Nebraska Position Breakdowns: Offensive Line

Big Red NetworkSenior Writer IMay 2, 2008

Outlook: Nebraska’s offensive line hasn’t looked this deep in at least seven years and maybe ten or twelve. It’s still not as proven as past lines (e.g. Fonoti, Raiola, Hochstein, and Volk in 2000), but there’s clearly a number of good options at most every spot.

Incumbents: The Huskers can roll out five players with starting experience including tackles Lydon Murtha and Jaivorio Burkes, guards Matt Slauson and Mike Huff, and likely center Jacob Hickman who’s mostly been a guard prior to 2008.

Rising Stars: Keith Williams seems to be the most likely to displace a starter (and that would seem most likely to be Mike Huff at guard). Walk-on center Mike Caputo seems to be the walk-on most likely to displace a scholarship player on the two-deep.

In-The-Mix: D.J. Jones is sure to see time this year (at guard and perhaps at tackle). Mike Smith, in addition to tackle, guard, or even center, could also be used as a jumbo tight end in goal-line situations. Marcel Jones might need more seasoning but with his size and athleticism should at least get a taste of mop up duty.

Enigma: Andy Christensen has been a starter at guard and was perhaps NU’s best run blocker. But his July trial and Bo Pelini’s tough stance thus far toward the player make it highly questionable whether he’ll ever suit up again.

Odd Man Out?: Sophomore Cruz Barrett may become the only scholarship lineman (aside from those who have yet to arrive on campus) not to crack the two-deep. He’s still got time to climb the depth chart, but 2008 doesn’t appear likely to be a big year for him.

On The Horizon: Standout recruit Baker Steinkuhler may well be ready to contribute as a true freshman, but enough veteran talent should push him to the bench or to the defensive line. Tackles David Grant and Brandon Thompson seem likely to redshirt. Ricky Henry may also redshirt, but will then have just two years of eligibility remaining. He’s likely to become a center or guard.