We've got a pretty good idea now of what Nebraska's roster will look like when they tee it up against Chattanooga on Sept. 3. Now the fun begins, to look at the roster and decide who we think will take the field. In Nebraska, defense comes first, so let's take a look at who we think are the likeliest candidates to be eligible for their Blackshirts in 2011.
Starters: Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler
Backups: Thaddeus Randle, Terrence Moore
Certainly the most settled position, Nebraska will have two clear-cut returning starters in Crick and Steinkuhler. Randle and Moore will provide solid depth and reserve for the position. Whether incoming freshman Todd Peat will red shirt or not will likely depend on his performance in fall camp and whether NU suffers any injuries to shake up the depth chart.
Starters: Eric Martin, Cameron Meredith
Backups: Josh Williams, Jason Ankrah, Joseph Carter.
The coaching staff moved Martin from linebacker to end for a reason, and he seems the likeliest candidate to win the position over Williams. Ankrah provides experienced backup, and JUCO transfer Carter was signed with the intent of seeing at least some playing time.
Starter: Lavonte David
Backups: Graham Stoddard, Alonzo Whaley
Another no-brainer here. David was the surprise star of the defense in 2010, without an offseason as the starter to prepare. With an offseason’s work and with the added weight he’s reported to have put on, David is set for a monster 2011. Stoddard and Whaley will provide solid depth throughout the linebacker corps.
Starters: Sean Fisher, Will Compton
Backups: Graham Stoddard, Matthew May, Alonzo Whaley
Fisher will likely be penciled in as the starting Sam LB after injuries robbed him of his 2010 season. Compton should start at the Will LB spot, with Stoddard, May and Whaley plugging in as needed in relief. Freshman David Santos has the talent to see playing time in 2011 if the need arises.
And do I get any credit for avoiding the "Will Compton at Will Linebacker" joke? Probably not.
Starter: Austin Cassidy
Backup: Corey Cooper
Cassidy established himself at the end of 2010 as a smart, playmaking safety and should earn himself a starting role in 2011. Cooper provides solid depth in relief, and JUCO transfer Daimion Stafford is likely to see playing time at the position as well.
Starter: Courtney Osborne
Backup: P.J. Smith
Towards the end of 2010, it was clear that the coaching staff had more faith in Osborne than Smith at safety, which means that Osborne will likely get the starting nod at the 2011 season.
Starters: Alfonzo Dennard, Ciante Evans
Backups: Dijon Washington, Antonio Bell, Andrew Green
A half-settled position, with Dennard returning to provide leadership of Nebraska’s secondary. Evans proved himself when pressed into a starting role as a true freshman due to injuries in 2010. Washington, Bell and Green provide strong depth at the position. Incoming freshman Charles Jackson will likely see playing time if he makes it to campus, but eligibility questions still swirl around him.
Starter: Brett Maher
Backup: Jon Damkroger
A position in huge flux with the graduation of Alex Henery, Maher likely edges out Damkroger for the punting duties based on Spring Game performances. However, fall camp will likely give both players an opportunity to win the starting position.
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