Nebraska Football: Cornhuskers' All-Decade Team
As we anxiously wait for the beginning of Nebraska's inaugural B1G season, let's have a little fun and take a look at the All-Cornhuskers team from the 2001 season through the 2010 season.
While the past decade had its ups and downs (mostly downs), there's no question the Nebraska football program produced some immensely talented players. Chances are you'll disagree with some of the selections, but that's the fun of it, right?
So, here is the Nebraska Cornhuskers All-Decade football team—ladies and gentlemen, let the debate begin.
Sources: HuskerMax.com, Huskers.com
Quarterback: Eric Crouch, 1998-2001
Eric Crouch had an outstanding senior season in 2001, leading the Cornhuskers to an 11-2 record and finishing the season with a Heisman Trophy.
Crouch also won the Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien Awards and was a first team All-American. He racked up an impressive 2,625 total yards and 25 total touchdowns as a senior and is regarded as one of the best option quarterbacks in the history of college football.
The 6'1", 200-pounder carried Nebraska on his back in his junior and senior years, and his departure marked a downturn in Nebraska football that lasted seven years.
Yeah, Crouch had that big an impact.
Second Team: Joe Ganz, 2004-2008
I-Back: Roy Helu Jr., 2007-2010
Roy Helu Jr. showed flashes of immense talent as a true freshman, and four full seasons later, Helu's 3,404 career yards sit fourth on Nebraska's all-time list.
Nebraska boasted one of its best running games in years last season, and Helu led the charge with 1,245 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Helu struggled with injuries at times during his sophomore and junior seasons, but his slashing style and breakaway speed made him a dangerous runner. Helu excelled when sharing carries and should have a tremendous NFL career doing the same thing.
Second Team: Cory Ross, 2001-2005
Fullback: Judd Davies, 1999-2003
Judd Davies was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2001 and finished his career atop Nebraska's list of fullbacks for career touchdowns, with 14.
He scored five touchdowns as a senior in a short-yardage role and was a strong run blocker throughotu his career. Seems pretty darn good to me, considering the Huskers' outstanding history at the fullback position.
What more do you want?
Wide Receiver: Nate Swift, 2004-2008
Nate Swift had a spectacular career with the Cornhuskers and was one of the few bright spots in Nebraska's forgettable mid-decade run with Bill Callahan.
Swift holds Nebraska records for career receptions, with 166, career receiving yards, with 2,476, season receptions, with 63, and season yards, with 941.
The 6'2", 200-pounder was a reliable possession receiver throughout his career but had deceptive athleticism and showed it with a punt return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech in 2008.
Second Team: Maurice Purify, 2006-2007
Wide Receiver: Todd Peterson, 2004-2008
Todd Peterson ranks fourth in career receptions and yardage at Nebraska, and in a decade that hasn't produced many good receivers, that easily qualifies Peterson for the list.
The 6'4", 215-pounder showed himself to be a reliable possession receiver and was one of Zac Taylor's favorite targets in 2006.
One of his shining moments came in the '06 game against Texas A&M, when he made a couple of clutch catches under heavy pressure to extend what ended up being the game-winning drive.
Second Team: Brandon Kinnie, 2009-Present
Offensive Guard: Toniu Fonoti, 1999-2001
Toniu Fonoti is one of the most dominant offensive linemen in Nebraska's storied history, and he leads Nebraska in career pancakes, with 379, despite playing only three seasons.
Fonoti was a bulldozer in 2001 and was chosen as a first team All-American and an Outland Trophy Finalist.
My only question is, who else?
Offensive Guard: Matt Slauson, 2005-2008
Matt Slauson had an outstanding career with the Huskers and started all 13 games at right guard as a senior.
Slauson was voted a first team All-Big 12 selection in 2008 and anchored a strong offensive line. Slauson is now starting at guard for the New York Jets.
Did I mention the 6'5", 320-pounder looks like an absolute beast?
Offensive Tackle: Richie Incognito, 2001-2003
Richie Incognito has a somewhat marred legacy as a Cornhusker, getting suspended before his junior season. However, his immense talent was undeniable.
Incognito was a first team All-Big 12 selection at tackle as just a redshirt sophomore and was on his way to being an All-American-caliber performer.
The 6'3", 310-pounder was the Huskers' top left tackle in both 2002 and 2003, anchoring a stout offensive line.
Offensive Tackle: Lydon Murtha, 2004-2008
Lydon Murtha anchored Nebraska's offensive line from 2005 through 2008 and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in both of his last two seasons.
Murtha's 6'7", 315-pound frame translates beautifully to the next level, but regardless of his NFL success, Murtha had a tremendous career with the Cornhuskers.
Center: Jacob Hickman, 2006-2009
Jacob Hickman was a fixture at center for the Huskers and made 36 consecutive starts in his career, earning second team All-Big 12 as a senior and All-Big 12 honorable mention as a sophomore and junior.
Hickman was a tough and underrated center who deserves this recognition.
Second Team: Brett Byford, 2003-2007
Tight End: Matt Herian, 2002-2006
Matt Herian is widely regarded as one of the best tight ends in Nebraska history, and his 65 receptions for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns are outstanding career numbers, especially for the offense Herian played in.
Herian garnered several All-Big 12 honors and was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award during his career.
He currently leads the school in career receptions and yards among tight ends.
Second Team: Kyler Reed, 2008-Present
Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh, 2005-2009
One of the most decorated players in Nebraska football history, Ndamukong Suh is a once-in-a-generation talent who was a pure dominant force in his junior and senior seasons.
Suh racked up an incredible 161 tackles, 43 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks in those two seasons alone.
His lengthy list of awards and recognitions include the Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarick and Walter Camp Awards, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Unanimous first team All-American, Heisman Trophy Finalist and AP College Football Player of the Year.
One of Suh's brightest moments was his 12-tackle, 4.5-sack performance against the Texas Longhorns in the 2009 Big 12 Championship, a game in which he nearly beat the Longhorns single-handedly—and that's not even an exaggeration.
With 66 tackles, 10 sacks and a fumble return for a touchdown in an All-Pro rookie NFL season, Suh continues to pile onto his legendary legacy.
There will be some disagreements about some other players on this list, but nobody can or will debate that Ndamukong Suh is one of the greatest players in college football history.
Defensive Tackle: Jared Crick, 2007-Present
Jared Crick and Ndamukong Suh were two of the big reasons why Nebraska's 2009 defense ranked first in the nation in points allowed, with just 10.4 per game.
Crick clearly benefitted from Suh's dominant presence in '09 but showed that he could be a leader as a junior in 2010. Crick has racked up 19 sacks over the past two seasons and is just 10 sacks away from tying the career record for career sacks, set by Husker legend Trev Alberts.
In addition to his impressive numbers, Crick was recognized as an All-American and enters the 2011 season considered by many as the top defensive tackle in the nation.
Second Team: Le Kevin Smith, 2001-2005
Defensive End: Chris Kelsay, 1999-2002
Chris Kelsay played just eight games as a senior because of injuries, but his 5.5 sacks led the team and he garnered second team All-Big 12 honors.
As a junior, Kelsay recorded 52 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and five sacks, garnering second team All-American honors.
The 6'5", 260-pound former Blackshirt anchored Nebraska's defensive line for two years.
Second Team: Pierre Allen, 2006-2010
Defensive End: Adam Carriker, 2002-2006
Adam Carriker had an outstanding career with the Huskers and was a bright spot on a defense that gained a reputation for underperforming.
Carriker played in all four seasons, was an All-Big 12 performer and was named to several award watchlists.
His last two seasons saw him record 95 tackles, 33 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks, and his 6'6", 295-pound frame made him a uniquely massive and dominant force off the edge.
Second Team: Zach Potter
Linebacker: Barrett Ruud, 2001-2004
Barrett Ruud is one of the greatest linebackers in Nebraska history.
Ruud's 432 career tackles are the most in school history, and his single-season record of 149 was only recently broken by breakout star Lavonte David.
Ruud was a third team All-American as a senior and has had a tremendous NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
One of Bo Pelini's star defensive players in his lone season as defensive coordinator, nobody will ever forget chanting Ruuuuuuuuud. That's right, Barrett Ruud was the original Suuuuuuuuuuh.
Second Team: Phillip Dillard, 2005-2009
Linebacker: Demorrio Williams, 2002-2003
Demorrio Williams was a statistical machine for the Cornhuskers in both 2002 and 2003.
Williams recorded 92 tackles and a sack as a junior before breaking out in Bo Pelini's defense as a senior. His 128 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 11 sacks highlighted his dominance.
He also earned first team All-Big 12 honors and was a Butkus Award Semifinalist.
While he hasn't had as good a career in the NFL as he could have, Williams was one of the best Nebraska linebackers in years and formed an incredible tandem with Barrett Ruud.
Second Team: Bo Ruud, 2003-2007
Linebacker: Lavonte David, 2010-Present
Lavonte David used a couple injuries to his advantage in 2010. With Will Compton and Sean Fisher out, the first-year linebacker was given the reigns to the defense and responded by breaking Nebraska's single-season tackles record.
In addition to his 152 stops, David proved to be a phenomenal blitzer, recording six sacks.
David garnered All-American honors and was tabbed the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2010. With a full calender year in the system, expect big things from the senior in 2011.
Second Team: Steve Octavien, 2005-2007
Cornerback: Prince Amukamara, 2007-2010
Prince Amukamara emerged as a standout cornerback for the Huskers in 2009, in which he recorded 64 tackles and five interceptions.
As a senior, Amukamara didn't record eye-popping stats because quarterbacks were afraid to throw at him. In 52 attempts to his side, Amukamara allowed only 18 completions and deflected 13 more passes. He also added over 50 tackles.
Amukamara was a first team All American, Thorpe Award Finalist and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. He was selected 19th overall in the NFL draft.
Second Team: Fabian Washington, 2002-2004
Cornerback: Keyuo Craver, 1998-2001
Keyuo Craver was a solid shutdown cornerback and doubled as a dangerous return man during his time with the Huskers.
Craver made 38 consecutive starts in his career and loaded up on stats with 192 tackles, seven interceptions and 41 pass deflections in his career.
The 2001 first team All-American is one of the best defensive backs in Cornhusker history.
Second Team: Alfonzo Dennard, 2008-Present
Safety: Josh Bullocks, 2001-2004
Josh Bullocks may have been a product of the system, but he was nevertheless one of the best safeties the Cornhuskers have ever produced.
Bullocks had great career that was highlighted by his 2003 season, in which the sophomore recorded an incredible 10 interceptions. That year he earned first team All-American honors.
His 13 career interceptions rank second all time among Huskers.
Second Team: Larry Asante, 2007-2009
Safety: Eric Hagg, 2007-2010
Eric Hagg was the reason Bo Pelini created the "Peso" position.
The versatile Hagg excelled in the hybrid safety/linebacker role as a senior, on his way to registering 49 tackles and five interceptions.
He earned All-American honors as a senior and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. The 6'2", 210-pounder should have a very successful NFL career.
Second Team: Daniel Bullocks, 2001-2005
Kicker: Alex Henery, 2006-2010
Punter: Kyle Larson, 1999-2003
Kick Returner: Cortney Grixby, 2004-2007
Punt Returner: DeJuan Groce, 1998-2002