Nebraska Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season
Nebraska football fans will be studying the depth chart, looking to see who will be making an impact. While the established stars look pretty clear, success in college football depends on a constant influx of talent. So a good measure of a program’s health is seeing what incoming freshmen will be able to compete for starting positions.
Now, I will admit to cheating a little on this particular assignment. I’m not limiting my discussion to true incoming freshman, but broadening the base to include players who will be new to Nebraska’s roster in 2014. Yeah, it’s not quite the barometer of Nebraska’s recruiting acumen. But if the idea is to discuss how new faces for Nebraska’s roster will help shape the team next year, this criteria should work just fine.
If there’s any incoming freshman who has the clearest path to starting, it’s Brown. Mauro Bondi has excelled as a kickoff specialist, but he has struggled mightily as a placekicker. With no one else on the roster looking to challenge, look for Brown to arrive on campus and compete right away for the starting placekicking position.
OK, I know this is cheating a little bit because Cockrell is a junior college transfer and not a freshman. But he’s new to the Nebraska program, and he looks to be locked in a tight struggle with Jonathan Rose to start at corner opposite Josh Mitchell. While I expect Rose to win the starting position, Cockrell is certainly in position to be a starter.
Much like with Cockrell, putting Keels on this list is kind of cheating because he’s a junior college transfer and not a freshman. But Nebraska will be looking for a starting defensive end opposite Randy Gregory. If the cliché about junior college transfers not being made to ride the bench is true, then Keels should be in line to compete for a place on the starting roster.
Finally we get back to an actual freshman (although a redshirt) in Natter, who should have every opportunity to compete for the defensive end position opposite Randy Gregory. Natter is 6'5" and 240 pounds, and Nebraska’s coaching staff would be thrilled if Natter was able to step up and win a starting position as a freshman. While he is less likely than a player like Keels to win that starting defensive end position, Natter is one of the strongest true freshman candidates (outside of Brown) to win a starting position.
Putting Lewis on this list really is cheating, as he is merely a transfer from Colorado. But he is a new addition to Nebraska’s roster, and his addition could very well be the difference if NU finally turns the corner and avoids another four-loss season. Lewis arrived in camp and beat out a very talented David Knevel at left tackle, with reports having him going toe-to-toe with Randy Gregory in spring practice.
If Lewis is able to bring that type of production to the field in 2014 and solidify Nebraska’s left tackle position, he could provide a lynchpin for NU’s offensive attack next season.
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