Some analysts (like this dope) limit their prognostication to the near term, like what Nebraska’s recruiting class of 2015 will look like. But you expect more. Like peering into the future and seeing what Nebraska’s starting lineup will be—not in 2014, or even 2015, but in 2016.
The obvious caveats apply, of course, in that there is no way to forecast injuries or additions to the roster between now and then. But given what we know now, and understanding all the perils of making such a prediction, here are your 2016 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Guard: Tanner Farmer (Jr.), D.J. Foster (Jr.)
Tackle: David Knevel (Jr.), Nick Gates (Jr.)
Center: Paul Thurston (Sr.)
The class of 2014 pays off in a big way for Nebraska going forward, with three members (Farmer, Foster, and Gates) in the starting lineup by 2016. With only Thurston as a senior, the offensive line has the potential to grow together and be solid for quite some time going forward.
Quarterback: Johnny Stanton (Jr.)
I-Back: Adam Taylor (Jr.)
Fullback: Mitch McCann (Sr.)
Yes, that’s right, I’m making the call that Johnny Stanton wins the quarterback duel of 2014 and is Nebraska’s signal-caller going forward. While I love Terrell Newby’s elusiveness, I think Taylor’s size will ultimately give him the advantage as a starting I-back. And while McCann is the best option at present, don’t be surprised if Nebraska’s 2016 starting fullback is not currently on the roster.
Wide Receiver (X): Monte Harrison (Jr.)
Wide Receiver (Z): Jariah Tolbert (Jr.)
Wide Receiver (A): Alonzo Moore (Sr.)
Tight End: Cethan Carter (Sr.)
If Harrison decides to forego professional baseball, he has the kind of size and athletic ability to be a true game-changer for Nebraska, and instantly becomes one of its most dangerous offensive weapons. If he can stay healthy, Moore has the speed and the size to be a devastating option opposite a kid like Harrison. Tolbert’s size make him a perfect candidate to take the Quincy Enunwa role, and Carter as a senior could blossom into an amazing weapon.
Defensive End: Greg McMullen (Sr.), A.J. Natter (Jr.)
Defensive Tackle: Vincent Valentine (Sr.), Kevin Maurice (Sr.)
The fact that Nebraska’s projected 2016 defensive line is largely players on the current roster speaks volumes to the success—or, more accurately, the lack thereof—in defensive line recruiting. Peyton Newell from the 2014 class would very likely be in the rotation at tackle, but is the only one of the younger prospects that looks to really contend for a starting role in 2016.
Outside Linebacker: Marcus Newby (Jr.), Courtney Love (Jr.)
Middle Linebacker: Michael Rose (Sr.)
The success in 2012 and 2013 in stocking the linebacker corps shines out in 2016, with the roster filled with kids from those two classes. With depth behind those players (including Josh Banderas) providing protection, linebacker is one of the best-stocked positions on Nebraska’s roster.
Safety: LeRoy Alexander (Sr.), Nathan Gerry (Sr.)
Cornerback: Trai Mosely (Jr.), Eric Lee (So.)
Gerry is currently listed as a linebacker, but given the depth at the position and Gerry’s size and skill set, a move to safety makes a lot more sense. Nebraska’s recent success in recruiting cornerbacks should help stock the shelves for NU by the time 2016 rolls around.
Punter: Sam Foltz (Sr.)
Placekicker: Drew Brown (Jr.)
Long Snapper: Gabriel Miller (Sr.)
Brown could very well win the placekicking job in 2014 as a true freshman, giving him three years of experience by 2016. With the experience of Foltz and Miller, that would give Nebraska invaluable experience in that critical area.
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