College Football

Nebraska Football: 4 Most Important Spring Practice Position Battles

Erin SorensenContributor IMarch 7, 2014

Nebraska Football: 4 Most Important Spring Practice Position Battles

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Spring practice is finally here for Nebraska. With it, battles at key positions begin.

    While the Huskers are set in most areas, there are a few spots that are wide open. Spring practice is when players can prove they deserve the starting role over anyone else.

    These positions were selected because of how uncertain the outcome will be. From quarterback to safety, these are roles that must be filled, and Nebraska has more than one key player to do it.

    Who will come out ahead by the end of spring practice? Read on to find out the four most important spring practice position battles. 

Quarterback

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    Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

    Spring Candidates: Tommy Armstrong (Soph.), Johnny Stanton (rFr.), Zack Darlington (Fr.)

     

    When former quarterback Taylor Martinez was injured in 2013, Tommy Armstrong stepped in. As a result, Armstrong has a big advantage with eight games as a starter under his belt.

    Regardless, that doesn’t guarantee him the starting role. With both Johnny Stanton and Zack Darlington competing in spring practice, he’ll have a lot to live up to.

    While Darlington will likely not get the starting spot, Stanton definitely could. He has been compared to Tim Tebow after being named the co-MVP at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in 2012, per Mitch Sherman of ESPN.

    Needless to say, the position is Armstrong’s to lose. 

Outside Linebacker

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Spring Candidates: Zaire Anderson (Sr.), David Santos (Jr.), Nathan Gerry (Soph.), Josh Banderas (Soph.), Marcus Newby (rFr.), Courtney Love (rFr.)

     

    With Michael Rose pretty much a lock in the middle, Banderas and Santos will be pushed to the outside. However, both started at least once at middle linebacker in 2013, which means it’s no guarantee this is what will happen.

    Additionally, Nathan Gerry may be pulled to play safety, which means he may not be up for consideration at linebacker in 2014. Courtney Love could make a case for outside linebacker, but he could also play inside, which might keep him there.

    In the end, the best bet is that Nebraska will have Santos and Zaire Anderson starting outside. As for Banderas, he could fit in many spots, making him more versatile in 2014. 

Offensive Tackle

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Spring Candidates: Matt Finnin (Jr.), Alex Lewis (Jr.), Zach Sterup (Jr.), David Knevel (rFr.)

     

    With the loss of Jeremiah Sirles, Brent Qvale and Andrew Rodriguez, Nebraska will be faced with a lot of inexperience at offensive tackle in 2014. Between those three players, all had been able to start every game at right and left tackle, even despite injuries.

    For spring practice, it’s crucial Matt Finnin, Alex Lewis and Zach Sterup step up. Finnin played a tiny bit in 2013, but it was nothing worth hanging his hat on. It’s just one example of the inexperience at this position.

    The offensive tackle position has to be addressed during spring practice. The one standout could be Lewis.

    A transfer from Colorado, Lewis did get sufficient playing time there. He can bring that experience to Nebraska. He seems to be the early favorite. 

Safety

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Spring Candidates: Corey Cooper (Sr.), Harvey Jackson (Sr.), Charles Jackson (Jr.), Byerson Cockrell (Jr.), LeRoy Alexander ( Soph.) D.J. Singleton (rFr.), Drake Martinez (rFr.)

     

    To be clear, the strong safety position belongs to Corey Cooper. The Nebraska coaches do not typically differentiate between the safety positions, but this one belongs to Cooper.

    As for his partner, it’s up in the air. Both Harvey Jackson and Charles Jackson are the front-runners for the position. Harvey has a slight advantage, as he started three games in 2013 and recorded a total of 33 tackles. As for Charles Jackson, he shows a lot of potential, but it’s truly up to him in spring practice to contend for the starting spot.

    While the other safeties will keep it competitive, it’s really going to come down to the two Jacksons. If spring ball goes as planned, the spot will be Harvey Jackson’s come fall. 

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