10 Darkhorse Players for Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2010
If you pay attention to recruiting, you may have known who Dejon Gomes was prior to the 2009 season, but you probably didn't know that he would make as much of an impact as he did last year.
The six-foot JUCO transfer turned a game around late in Columbia, Mo., with an interception return to the five yard line of the enemy.
Likewise, the small defensive back also stole the ball from Texas wide receiver Dan Buckner late in the game in the Big 12 championship to give Nebraska a chance to go to the Fiesta Bowl.
So who will be this year's dark horse contributor? Will he come on defense or on offense? The following are ten viable dark horse candidates for Nebraska's 2010 season.
Remember dark horse candidates won't include players like Lavonte David, Jermarcus Hardrick, or Niles Paul, these are players that aren't supposed to make an impact but will in a surprising fashion.
Enjoy the list and add to it as you see fit.
10. Curenski Gilleylen (WR - Jr.)
Okay, I know that I just said this list should be for players who aren't expected to play great next season, and you might be confused by my putting Curenski on here, but bear with me a moment.
Gilleylen has proven that he has the speed and the route-running abilities to get open. The problem he has is the problem no receiver can have if they want to start at any level.
Curenski can't catch.
At the beginning of the season in 2009 it looked like all those dropped passes had only been Freshman jitters for the speedster at wide out.
However, soon after the Virginia Tech game Gilleylen's numbers plummeted to unprecedented lows.
In the first four games of the season Curenski wowed Husker fans by snagging seven balls for 255 yards and a touchdown. He was on his way to a seemingly good season.
However, in Nebraska's final ten games Gilleylen only caught nine balls for 47 yards and no touchdowns. In fact he played so poorly that he even got demoted to the practice squad for a few weeks.
Players like Brandon Kinnie, Niles Paul, Kihry Cooper and now Mike McNeill who was moved to wide receiver for the spring look like they are overtaking Gilleylen.
Don't sleep on the junior, though. He is fast and contains good playmaking ability if he can catch the ball. If Curenski can right the ship with his hands, you may be looking at a breakout player in the Big 12 North in 2010.
9. Taylor Martinez (QB - Fr.)
With all the controversy surrounding the quarterback position on this team, you just had to know that this is where I was going to go next.
Sure, Brion Carnes could go on here, Cody Green is expected to start by some and still Lee by others. To be honest, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see Kody Spano push for time, either.
But one name that is popping up in all the media circles is Taylor Martinez. Some think he should be moved to receiver, still others moved to safety.
I'm here to say though, that I think Martinez could make a push for not just a back up position at quarterback but for the whole cigar. The coaches like him a lot; he can improvise well and throw on the run.
The only problem is he is not battle tested. Don't be surprised if by the time fall ball rolls around Martinez is being talked about as one of the top three for the position of main signal caller in 2010.
8. Kyler Reed (TE/WR - So.)
Kyler Reed was supposed to be something last year.
He got injured and didn't produce as thought, but he is athletic enough to do some damage.
Reed may be moved to slot receiver by the fall with McNeill. Adding some size and route running ability on those crossing routes, he is also fast enough to beat linebackers and safeties over the top.
It looks to me like they are thinning out the Tight End position for blockers like Chase Harper next season and that Reed could be a good third down receiver in 2010.
Don't sleep on Reed, because he is an explosive player with good hands that is stronger than he looks. 2010 could be a break out year for this athletic kid from Overland Park, Kan.
7. Corey Cooper (S - Fr.)
It might be odd to put Cooper in this line up since Nebraska's depth in the secondary is so spectacular. But every good safety needs a good back up and at the very least Cooper can be this.
In fact, I expect Cooper to push Ricky Thenarse for playing time if he can grasp the defensive scheme quickly and become a smart player. Thenarse is known for his hard hitting but also for some bone head plays in the defense.
Cooper brings speed, athleticism, and a high football IQ to the table for Nebraska and could push for playing time by mid season like Dejon Gomes did.
Don't expect him to start out of the gate, but if he has too he is definitely capable of doing so.
6. Jay Guy (DT - Fr.)
It's hard to know who will step up to replace Ndamukong Suh at the defensive tackle spot for Nebraska, but if anyone could ease our minds over the next few seasons, Jay Guy could.
Looking at his tape, Guy is already built like a defensive tackle for Big 12 football, he has a quick first step and can recognize plays well.
Guy is also a good two-gap defensive tackle, able to split double teams and penetrate the backfield when needed.
The knock on Guy is that he has a tendency to take plays off, however that will stop quickly if he wants to see the field at all under Bo Pelini.
Guy could make a significant impact his rookie season, but there is another interior lineman who might be more poised to make an impact.
5. Jason Ankrah (DE - Fr.)
The loss of Barry Turner was sad, but the addition of players like Jason Ankrah will soon make you forget.
Nebraska may be deeper on the defensive end spot than anyone realizes next season with Pierre Allen coming back, as well as Cameron Meredith and players like Josh Williams and Donavon Vestal ready to make an impact.
One guy though, looks like he could be in the starting line up talk early in 2010.
Jason Ankrah has the side, speed, strength and agility to turn into an All-American defensive end by his senior season. He must first make an impact though and getting through the position battle will be tough.
Ankrah was thought to contribute last season if they needed him too, however, Nebraska stayed relatively injury free throughout the season and didn't need to burn his red shirt. He's itching to make an impact, though, and don't be surprised if you hear his name early and often in 2010.
4. Dijon Washington (DB - Fr.)
Dijon Washington was a highly touted four star recruit coming out of high school in 2009. How quickly we forget and look forward to new players like Ciante Evans and a few others for the 2010 class.
However, Washington is the only DB on the roster that looks to have a chance at seeing field next season that didn't play last year.
Nebraska's secondary might be the best and deepest in the nation, and Washington could factor in early against spread teams like Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma State.
3. Chase Rome (DT - Fr.)
Defensive tackle is a position of great concern going into next season for Nebraska.
Sure, they are returning Jared Crick, and Baker Steinkuhler looks like he could be a load inside as well, but beyond those two it's hard to say who will step up.
Enter Chase Rome.
We already saw a man by the name of Jay Guy on this list, but Chase Rome has the speed, quickness, size and strength to compete for starting job in 2010, let alone a back up placement.
Rome has a quick inside move and is good at reading the quarterbacks count and eyes while the play is starting. He is smart player with a tenacity that comes from a pure winning attitude.
Rome is a winner, and winners sometimes make up for a lot of short comings in their games with sheer will.
2. KC Hyland (WR - So.)
Who said the walk-on program is dead?
First Matt O'Hanlon now...KC Hyland?
The 6'6" sophomore from Lincoln has the size and the hands to become a legitimate red zone threat in 2010.
Hyland won't wow you with his speed, but he is a smart player and makes the most of his size on offense. He's my dark horse to make a few big grabs in key games this season. Look for No. 85 inside the 20 this spring, he may surprise you.
1. Quincy Enunwa (WR - Fr.)
Quincy Enunwa was nabbed early by Husker recruiters before Rivals.com even placed a rating on the outstanding wide receiver from California.
Enunwa has good speed, great hands and relentless legs that will only stop when you make them stop. His attitude is that of a winner and he will push for playing time early if he doesn't red shirt.
Enunwa can run perfect double moves and isn't afraid to get hit running over the middle.
If some of the other receivers can't step up this season, don't be surprised if Enunwa gets a shot opposite Niles Paul.