Nebraska Football: Getting to Know the Cornhuskers' Defensive Line

Patrick Runge@@patrickrungeCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2013

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Defensive end Jason Ankrah #9 and linebacker Will Compton #51 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers wraps up running back Melvin Gordon #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Nebraska football fans know that spring practice is well underway, with the spring game being not too far behind. So now is definitely the time to get familiar with all facets of the team, to help tide the Children of the Corn through baseball season and a long summer until fall camp begins.

We’ve already gotten to know Nebraska’s backup running backs, wide receivers and offensive line. Now, it’s time to switch sides of the ball and take a look at the defensive line. In the style of Stephen Colbert, it’s time to better know Nebraska’s defensive line.


Defensive End

Senior Jason Ankrah (6’4”, 265 pounds) returns as a starter at defensive end for Nebraska.

That’s it, that’s the list in terms of starters. So head coach Bo Pelini will have his work cut out for him in determining the rotation for Nebraska’s ends—assuming Nebraska sticks with a base 4-3 defensive alignment, of course.

Junior college transfer Randy Gregory (6’6”, 230 pounds) appears to be well set to start opposite Ankrah at defensive end. Nebraska’s highest-ranked recruit from the 2013 class, according to, Gregory is a pass-rush specialist and looks to fill the Eric Martin role of disrupting an opponent’s backfield next season.

Currently on Nebraska’s roster are redshirt freshman Avery Moss (6’2”, 260 pounds) and Greg McMullin (6’3”, 280 pounds), along with Ross Dzuris (6’3”, 235 pounds) who will be looking for playing time. Juniors Donovan Vestal (6’5”, 260 pounds) and Walker Ashburn (6’2”, 255 pounds) have failed to make an impact up to now, and may be running out of time to find themselves on the field.

Incoming scholarship recruits A.J. Natter (6’5”, 240 pounds), Dimarya Mixon (6’4”, 250 pounds) and Ernest Suttles (6’5”, 240 pounds), along with walk-on Jordan Ackerman (6’3”, 240 pounds), will be looking to establish if any redshirts are handed out at defensive end.


Defensive Tackle

Did things seem thin when Nebraska had just one player with significant experience returning at defensive end? That’s spoiled for choice compared to Nebraska’s options at defensive tackle. With the graduation of Baker Steinkuhler and the departure of Chase Rome, Nebraska will need to grow up in a hurry at defensive tackle.

Senior Thaddeus Randle (6’1”, 295 pounds) will attempt to return from injury and lead the tackles for Nebraska. Sophomores Aaron Curry (6’1”, 280 pounds) and Kevin Williams (6’2”, 265 pounds) will hope to take the limited playing time they received last season and parlay it into a bigger role in 2013. Redshirt freshman Vincent Valentine (6’3”, 320 pounds) will have a lot of hopes pinned on his success in his first year on the field.

Underachieving juniors Tobi Okuyemi (6’2”, 275 pounds), Jay Guy (6’1”, 290 pounds), and Jeff Uher (6’1”, 280 pounds) will be hoping to seize what may be their last opportunity to earn a spot on the depth chart.

And scholarship signees Kevin Maurice (6’3”, 270 pounds) and Maliek Collins (6’2”, 285 pounds), along with walk-on Steve Graeber (6’1”, 250 pounds), will try to convince the coaches to let them see the field in 2013. For the new signees, though, a redshirt season seems likely.

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