Nebraska Football: Athlete QBs Aren't the Cornhuskers' Best Big Ten Bet

Brandon Cavanaugh@ IApril 29, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is tackled by Ronnell Lewis #56 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the Big 12 Championship at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The quarterback depth chart at Nebraska is like a porcelain vase sitting in a glass case strung up by a system of levers and pulleys.

If the slightest thing goes wrong, the whole thing will shatter to pieces. It doesn’t help that recruiting for the position appears to be going down a very dangerous road: Turning athletes into quarterbacks rather than gaining actual quarterbacks.

Let’s assume dual-sport sensation Bubba Starling doesn’t make it to campus. This seems a foregone conclusion to many Nebraska fans, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

That leaves the Cornhuskers with a shaky Taylor Martinez, a player out of position in Cody Green, a potential starter in Brion Carnes and a serviceable backup in Ron Kellogg. That’s not exactly the type of situation you want going into a physical conference like the Big Ten.

This problem only gets magnified if Nebraska intends to run an offense that is somewhat dedicated to option football. There does have to be the risk of a quarterback running and taking a hit.

Looking past the current problem, what steps are Bo Pelini and company taking to ensure that they’re not in these dire straits come 2012?

Offers have been made to three uncommitted quarterbacks: Jameis Winston, Anthony Alford and Devin Fuller.

Winston and Alford play baseball in addition to football. Are you starting to notice any parallels in recent recruiting? Fuller isn’t even technically considered a quarterback by at this point.

It might not seem to be a big deal, especially when dual-sport athletes are so common anymore...not to mention the fact that all three of these prospects are highly coveted.

The problem arises when in Starling’s case, for example: despite amazing speed and acceleration, he does have throwing mechanics that need to be corrected.

He isn’t a “true” quarterback right now and neither are any of Nebraska’s current offers.

Are they excellent athletes and could they contribute at a high level? Absolutely, but when you have supposed quarterbacks coming in with whom you have to teach simple concepts like throwing a football properly, this should throw up a red flag.

Winston's and Fuller's highlight videos look amazingly similar to that of current Cornhusker Taylor Martinez, from waiting for their offensive lines to clear the way so that they can take off downfield to a throwing motion that looks like the ball’s being delivered on a tight zip-line.

If you didn’t know the three weren’t from the same school, you’d swear that they had the same coach or at least used a similar playbook.

Alford’s the exception in this case. He’s blazing fast, has a cannon for an arm and looks like the type of quarterback that can lead a true dual-threat system.

At 6’0” and 205 pounds, he’s at a decent size for a senior in high school to excel in such an offense at that level. He’ll need a good 10-15 pounds of lean muscle to withstand the pummeling that the Big Ten will throw at Nebraska.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the Cornhuskers sign Alford and Fuller. Alford can work with Tim Beck on perfecting what he already knows.

With Fuller, Beck has to essentially reinvent the wheel. This is assuming that Martinez picks up better throwing mechanics quickly, but it’s still a burden.

It’s hard to imagine that Nebraska’s offensive coordinator wouldn’t rather start teaching his new charges where to throw rather than how to throw.

The Cornhuskers are walking a dangerous tightrope with this type of recruiting. If they don’t start targeting more athletes who are already in a true quarterback mold, those who take snaps for Nebraska will take punishment that they likely cannot handle.

Despite what his highlights may lead you to believe, running back Rex Burkhead can’t do everything for the Cornhusker offense.

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