The safety position might be the most interesting one for the Huskers in 2008. NU head coach Bo Pelini has a history of making stars out of safeties with his defense, and he inherits some players that were highly regarded safety recruits.
But depth is a concern, making the position a real wild card.
Larry Asante had 10 starts last season at strong safety with mixed results after making fans drool over his recruiting film.
When Pelini says he applies eight-man front principles to his seven-man fronts, Asante will likely be that eighth man. His understanding and execution will be critical if the defense is going to make the kind of quantum leap that fans are hoping for.
Matt O’Hanlon seems like the walk-on most likely to crack the two-deep at safety. With a premium on safeties knowing where to be, a walk-on is hardly an uncommon sight.
Major Culbert is the kind of athlete that coaches simply can’t keep off the field. He seems sure to earn a two-deep spot at safety.
Rickey Thenarse is considered a frontrunner to win the starting free safety spot. His seek-and-destroy style has won fans over.
But there are clearly concerns about him executing his assignments. Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington went from Pro-bowler to bench player for the same reason. Thenarse could keep himself off the field despite his considerable talent if he can’t get on the same page as the coaches.
Odd Man Out?
Eric Hagg is the kind of athlete that could be a two-deep player or eventual starting safety.
But early indications seem to be that he trails the aforementioned players bidding for playing time at safety. However, he might see time at cornerback.
On The Horizon
P.J. Smith was ranked as one of the top 50 safety prospects in the country by Rivals.com. Friends who’ve seen John Levorson say he’s the real deal as well. Mason Wald is the kind of collision player that you love to see at safety.
Additionally, players like Justin Rogers and Courtney Osborne could wind up at safety.
Aside from special teams duty, you’d expect these recruits to redshirt. There’s so much that safeties need to know. Barring injury, you’d expect the recruits to sit and learn before seeing much playing time.