Nebraska has a lot of uncertainty ahead in its future. Nebraska will move to the Big Ten next year. Nebraska will have at least four new coaches next year. Nebraska will have a new offensive coordinator next year. But more importantly, Nebraska will have new faces and names playing on Saturday next year.
The recruiting is done, the seniors are gone and Nebraska has holes to fill in its team. A total of six starters on offense, and four on defense as well as losing Alex Henrey and Adi Kunalic.
Nebraska will have new players filling in the spots left by the seniors, as well as some supplanting the former starters. After three years, Bo's recruits will now be taking the spotlight away from the players from the Callahan era. It is this season that we find out how good of a coach Bo is, he has his recruits and his coaches, in his program.
It is time to get familiar with some names that will become second nature to Nebraska fans, what will the depth chart look like in 2011?
Starter: Taylor Martinez
Second String: Brion Carnes
Third String: Cody Green
Redshirt: Bubba Starling. Jamal Turner.
Incoming recruit Ameer Abdullah said in an interview that Bo Pelini wants an offense designed specifically to take advantage of Taylor Martinez's speed. I see that as a pretty good indication of who the favorite is for next year. Martinez was a redshirt freshman last year, and still has room for improvement, but what can you expect from a first year starter?
Brion Carnes is a relative to Husker royalty, he is the cousin of Nebraska legend and possible favorite player, Tommie Frazier. He was one of the best dual threat QB's in last years class, and might have a shot at the starting job.
Cody Green may be a nice a guy and a team player, but from watching him play and listening to interviews, he does not fit Bo Pelini's vision for the offense. Sorry, but he is too slow.
Incoming Freshmen, Turner and Starling will probably redshirt, unless one shows they are better than anyone in the system, which is hard to do against players who know the system and plays. Also, odds are Starling may not even get to Nebraska. I would give an edge to Turner if one were to get playing time. He enrolled early to compete for the job and came from one of the top high school districts in Texas. Add in the fact that Tim Beck, recruited him and is the new Offensive coordinator, and he has a good shot.
Starter: Rex Burkhead
Second String: Aaron Green
Third String: Ameer Abdullah
Rex Burkhead is Nebraska's Swiss Army knife. He can do it all. He can play running back, wide reciever, and quarterback out of the wildcat. He is Nebraska's most experienced back, and has both speed and power. He currently ranks 43rd on Nebraska's all time rushing list, and if he keeps his same production as last year, he could break into the top five.
Quick name Nebraska's number four leading rusher last year. Can't think of it? It was Cody Green with 96. Number five? Dontrayveous Robinson with 67, who has transferred. Sixth? will be Senior Austin Jones with 58. Nebraska has almost no depth behind Burkhead. The other two running backs on scholarship had two yards a piece last year.
Green and Abdullah both have speed, and that is what Nebraska needs. Power back Robinson transferred because he does not fit the system Bo wants of speedy running backs instead of power backs. Green and Abdullah fit the system. Considering Tim Beck is the new Offensive coordinator, he will want his own stamp on the program with the backs he personally got.
Starter: Brandon Kinnie
Second String: Kenny Bell
Starter: Khiry Cooper
Second String: Tim Marlowe
Starter: Qunicy Enunwa
Second String: Tariq Allen
New Receivers coach Rich Fisher has his work cut out for him. He loses Mike McNeill and Niles Paul, and only returns Brandon Kinnie out of any receivers that had an impact last year. Not good. The poor receiving corps is a big reason why Nebraska's offense sputtered so much last year. In the Texas game, they dropped several touchdown passes, and were almost non-existent the rest of the year, except for the Oklahoma State game.
Khiry Cooper and Quincy Enunwa are supposed to be fast, but saw little action last year. Kenny Bell was redshirted, but apparently turned heads on the scout team. Tariq Allen is a freshman, but Rich Fisher has coached him for two years now as his high school coach, he knows him very well and how he can perform on the field.
Anyone else wishing that Peterson and Swift were back at Nebraska?
Starter: Kyler Reed
Second String: Ben Cotton
Third String: Jake Long
Anyone know who is coaching the tight ends? Because whoever it is has some issues, namely there are only really two tight ends. Kyler Reed is used for passing, and Ben Cotton is used for blocking. Reed was Martinez's go to guy last year, with a team high eight touchdown catches. Cotton is the son of Barney Cotton, the o-line coach, and is primarily used as a blocker.
Beyond those two, who else is there? Jake Long was a redshirt freshman and had one catch for 17 yards. Beyond him, there is no one. Odds are, that if Bo wants Oregon's offense, Reed will start. He has the speed and is a down field threat for the Huskers, but Nebraska needs more playmakers beyond that at tight end, and currently there are none.
Center: Mike Caputo
Second string: Cole Pensick/Ryan Reeves
Guard: Andrew Rodriguez
Guard: Brent Qvale
Second String: Ryan Klachko, Mike Moudy
Tackle: Jeremiah Sirles
Tackle: Jemarcus Hardrick
Second String: Tyler Moore, Marcel Jones
The offensive line has a lot of talent, the only problem is that they are all relatively young, but Nebraska does seem to be returning its "Pipeline". In my opinion, it is really hard to tell who will be in the mix for offensive line. At guard and tackle, there are two good prospects at each spot. Out of the group of five, only Caputo and Sirles started last year.
The biggest problem with determining the depth chart of the offensive line, is that Nebraska just brought in three of the top offensive lineman in the country, so good luck trying to figure out if they are better than the sophomores that hold the starting jobs.
Defensive Tackle: Jared Crick
Defensive Tackle: Baker Stienkuhler
Second String: Terrence Moore, Jay Guy
Defensive End: Cameron Meredith
Defensive End: Joseph Carter
Second String: Jason Ankrah, Chase Rome
This could possibly be the biggest strength of the Blackshirts. The defensive line returns three out of the four starters, only losing Pierre Allen. Jared Crick is a beast and commands the defensive line, and could possibly have a breakout season like Suh did in his senior season. Stienkuhler is part of a Husker dynasty of lineman and is a good defender. Cameron Meredith has speed and power, both excellent qualities in a defensive end. Carter is a JUCO, and one would figure he would see immediate playing time, why else would you recruit a JUCO?
Behind Crick and Stienkuhler, is Moore who shared playing time with Baker last year, and Jay Guy, a standout recruit who will be a redshirt freshman. Behind Carter and Meredith is Ankrah who saw some playing time last year, and four star recruit Chase Rome who was one of Bo's best prospects in the 2010 class.
Starter: Lavonte David
Starter: Will Compton
Second String: Sean Fisher, Alfonzo Whaley, Eric Martin
Peso Back: Corey Cooper
Second String: I Don't Know
In 2010, there was only one linebacker that stood out, JUCO transfer Lavonte David. Originally going to be behind Fisher and Compton, but injuries pushed him to the front and he dominated, setting a school record for tackles. Compton came back and immediately took back his starting job form Whaley, but he was no where near as dominant as David.
Behind these two, are the only linebackers with experience. Fisher is supposed to be very athletic and could fit into a Peso role, Whaley was decent but not great and Eric Martin is the biggest of the three which could work in his favorite with the move to the Big Ten.
Will there be a Peso position? Who knows, Bo likes to be secretive like that. Personally I think they should switch to a 4-3-4, but it sounds like they will keep the Peso. Is there anyone with the athleticism that Eric Hagg? Corey Cooper might. Bo Pelini's biggest recruit in 2010, was dominant on the defensive scout team and has the speed and power to possibly pull off the Peso spot.
Starter: Alfonzo Dennard
Starter: Ciante Evans
Second String: Charles Jackson, Antonio Bell, Djion Washington
Unfortunately, Nebraska lose All-American corner Prince Amukamara, the good news is that we kept Dennard. When teams were afraid to throw Amukamara's way, Dennard made them pay for thinking he was the weaker corner. He will be joined by true Sophomore Ciante Evans, who was Amukamara's backup in 2010 as a true freshman. Evans served as a great replacement when Amukamara was injured and will be another great corner under Bo.
Behind them will be highly touted recruit Charles Jackson, and either Bell or Washington, both backed up Jackson last season. Behind them are some players who have been in the system for a while, but I do not think have the athleticism that the others have.
Starter: Damion Stafford
Starter: Austin Cassidy
Second String: P.J. Smith, Courtney Osborne
The safeties were an interesting position last year. Smith and Thenarse started the season, but were replaced by Cassidy and Osborne in the second half of the season. Cassdiy, in my opinion was the better one out of him and Osborne, but I thought Smith was doing a good job. Apparently Bo thought differently.
Cassidy I think will start as a Senior and will provide leadership. Damion Stafford was one of the best JUCO players in 2010, and will be playing for Nebraska in 2011. With a guy that good, there is no way that you do not play him.
Behind Stafford and Cassidy, will be Smith and Osborne. Both who have experience and can be great backups and possibly supplant a starter.
Kicker: Mauro Bondi
Punter: Brett Maher
Long Snapper: P.J. Mangieri
Sadly, Nebraska lost one of their best players last season, Alex Henrey. Henrey is the all time leading scorer for Nebraska, and was automatic at connecting on field goals, and will go down in history as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Oh, and Henrey also handled all of Nebraska's punting needs.
Trying to fill the enormous shoes left by Henrey, will be freshman Mauro Bondi, the 16th best kicking prospect in the country. It will be very hard for Bondi to live up to the legend of Henrey.
Junior Brett Maher will take over punting duties for Nebraska. Long snapper P.J. Mangieri will return as the long snapper. Behind both Bondi and Maher is sophomore walk-on Jason Dann.