50 Huskers in Review: Nos. 50-46

By at January 5, 2010 | 12:06 PM | Print

In the summer and fall, Husker Locker created its “50 Huskers to Know” list for the 2009 season. We now review our list by examining production, injuries and depth chart position.

We’ll present these in five-player increments. Here we go!

No. 50 Lester Ward and Austin Jones: Both backs were leapfrogged by true freshmen Rex Burkhead and Traye Robinson during the season; Ward appeared to be the No. 4 back based on his late appearance in the Holiday Bowl, while Jones slightly more time in midseason against Texas Tech and Iowa State. With the recruitment of Braylon Heard, Jones’ playing time seems limited in 2010. Ward actually looks like a capable running back; it’s the other stuff – pass-blocking, play recognition – holding him back.

No. 49 Brandon Kinnie: We predicted a slow start for Kinnie despite the hype and noise. His season was indeed quiet – 15 catches for 141 yards – but Kinnie seemed to emerge as the No. 2 receiver toward the end of the season. His ball skills aren’t in question – Kinnie knows how to catch and run – and he possesses a positive, infectious attitude. We forsee a leap forward for Kinnie in 2010, presuming health and continued development.

No. 48 PJ Mangieri: The freshman walk-on became NU’s starting long snapper and, after a poor performance at Missouri – along with a severe tongue-lashing from head coach Bo Pelini – Mangieri settled into a successful season. And, given Nebraska’s frequent punts and field goal attempts, he got plenty of work. The Huskers have a keeper in this kid for the next three years.

No. 47 Alonzo Whaley: We also predicted a muted impact from Whaley, who struggled during 2009 spring ball to pick up defensive concepts and get on the field. That proved true during the season, as Whaley, a red shirt freshman, rarely saw the field on defense. He didn’t play a significant role on special teams, either. Whaley better catch up in preparation – before he gets left behind.

No. 46 Derek Meyer: The fifth-year transfer from Kansas State got a scholarship in his senior year, and served as an important backup at both guard positions, especially for Keith Williams, who missed chunks of the first two games. Meyer, a solid pass-blocker, helped NU protect Zac Lee while the Huskers were still running the spread passing offense; his playing time dropped off a bit as the year wore on, but Meyer played a role on special teams and was well-liked among his peers. A success story – any way you slice it.

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