Outlook: Nebraska’s interior defensive line received a lot of criticism in 2007. But with both starters playing hurt and little in ready reserve, a subpar year should probably have been expected. This season, the group looks to enter the season healthier and deeper than a year ago. There’s also a chance that superior conditioning and coaching could transform the defensive interior into a team strength. The emerging depth at the position may well have contributed to four-star recruit Seth Jensen’s decision to leave.
Incumbents: Assuming all goes well with his recovery, Ndamukong Suh should be the top nose man and at his best he’s very good. Ty Steinkuhler is likely to line up alongside Suh, and can hopefully shake the injuries he played through in 2007.
Rising Stars: Terrence Moore redshirted a year ago but stood out in the spring game amassing 5 tackles including a sack. Whether he cracks the two-deep in 2008 or not he’s one to watch in the years to come.
In-The-Mix: Shukree Barfield is likely to be the #2 nose-man behind Suh. Kevin Dixon made four starts in place of Steinkuhler in 2007 and is sure to be featured heavily in the rotation.
Enigma: Jared Crick was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle. It could be that the coaches plan to use him now or it might be that with three seniors at the top of the depth chart, they’re grooming him to contribute in 2009.
Odd Man Out?: Injuries forced Ben Martin into early duty as a freshman. He gained valuable experience which may help him get back on the field in 2008. But it’s easy to think he might see less playing time than a year ago if the players ahead of him stay healthy and if new additions like Moore and Crick steal time.
On The Horizon: Quentin Toailoa was the lone tackle recruit in the class of 2008. He’ll likely redshirt but could easily find himself playing in 2009. Scout.com’s Scott Kennedy selected Toailoa as one of the three-star recruits you could build a national championship team with.