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  1. 2010 Mar 24

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 1

    6,330 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DT Jared Crick, 6-6, 285, Jr.

    Easily one of the most likable Huskers in recent history, Crick is now the anchor of the Nebraska defensive line, which, so long as the Brothers Pelini are at Nebraska, will be the new prestige job of the Blackshirts. Crick is a good fit for the job, a tough, old-school, surprisingly funny kid from Cozad who doesn’t remind us of Ndamukong Suh so much as a John Parrella. Crick is a throwback, in other words, an explosive, disruptive force who may surpass Suh, by the time he’s done, in sacks.

    It won’t be easy for Nebraska to replace Suh - Crick can be built around. He’s also learned well from his former teammates. Adept at getting his hands up to block passes, Crick’s leverage and raw strength also makes him one of the nation’s best interior pass rushers. He may also be faster than Suh in pursuit situations. While he lacks Suh’s freakish athleticism and sheer ball skills - more humans do - Crick is more of a prototypical - albeit giant - defensive tackle. Carl Pelini will turn the kid loose in 2010.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, jared crick

  2. 2010 Mar 24

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 2

    5,183 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    WR Niles Paul, 6-1, 215, Sr.

    Once Paul set aside some of his boneheaded mistakes in the Texas Tech and Iowa State games, he became a more aggressive, daring, dominant receiver and return man. While Paul still needs to work on inside routes and catching the ball over the middle in traffic, he’s now one of the Big 12’s best - if not the best - deep-ball threat, plus NU’s best multi-purpose returner since DeJuan Groce.

    But, more importantly, Paul is a leader of this 2010 offense and team - both in personality and work ethic - and he’ll be counted upon to speak for and to the team on several occasions. We suspect he’ll take well to the role, and be one of the “faces” of Nebraska’s run toward a Big 12 and national title.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, niles paul

  3. 2010 Mar 24

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 3

    5,375 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    QB Cody Green, 6-4, 220, So.

    Here’s the moment for the Dayton, Texas native. Although Green can’t officially win the job in the spring, he can put injured incumbent Zac Lee is a fairly deep hole. That happening hinges, in our view, on two things:

    1. Green consistently completes the short curls, slants and sideline outs that are a staple of most passing offenses, but especially so in a West Coast passing attack.

    2. He is allowed to show off the running ability that makes him a more dangerous option than Lee.

    Over the last half of the season, Green appeared tentative and uncertain running the ball, which contrasted with his bolder play at the beginning of the year. Green played best when he seemed to have little to lose. When the game was on the line, he suddenly appeared robotic and uncertain.

    Quarterback is, mentally, the toughest job on the football field, but some element of it has to be instinctive, effortless. And Green has to be a good enough leader to prove to an offensive coordinator like Shawn Watson that his skills trump scheme.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, cody green

  4. 2010 Mar 22

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 4

    5,030 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DB Dejon Gomes, 6-0, 190, Sr.

    The playmaker. Gomes isn’t the biggest, fastest or most experienced defensive back on Nebraska’s team, but he caused seven turnovers in what amounted to just ten starts. Outstanding.

    Gomes’ ball skills saved a touchdown in the Kansas game, and set up big scores in the Missouri and Texas games. Aggressive and undaunted, he rarely gives up on a play, and makes life miserable for slot receivers. He’s also a surprisingly good tackler for a kid his size, and Nebraska coaches trust him to absorb a block and go after a ballcarrier.

    Where Gomes fits in the NFL remains a question. In college, he’s a perfect fit for Pelini’s match-zone defense. Soft-spoken and canny, he’s nevertheless the Blackshirts’ best game-changer.

    The Best - And Worst - Coaches in the Big 12.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, dejon gomes

  5. 2010 Mar 22

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 5

    4,442 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    K/P Alex Henery, 6-2, 175, Sr.

    Bo Pelini loves this guy for his attention to detail and steely competitiveness (within the body and mind of a kicker, of course). Henery saved Pelini’s hide in that 2008 Colorado game with that 57-yard field goal, and he kept NU alive in 2009 losses to Virginia Tech and Texas.

    As a punter, Henery is already skilled at downing punts inside the 20 and 10-yard line. He has worked on shortening his steps, and that will be the final piece of the puzzle this spring. At times Henery seemed out of rhythm on longer punts, and kicked some clunkers as a result.

    Nevertheless, Henery rarely kicks a “returnable” punt, which is about the worst thing a punter can do. As a field goal kicker, he’s Robbie Gould of the Chicago Bears, only with more range. He is poised, after this season, to instantly be one of the best kickers in the NFL, where tighter hash marks should make his accuracy close to 100 percent.

    The Best - And Worst - Coaches in the Big 12.


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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, alex henery

  6. 2010 Mar 22

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 6

    4,318 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    RB Roy Helu, 6-0, 215. Sr.

    As physically gifted - in terms of moves and instincts - as any running back in the Big 12, and possibly the nation. What Helu needs is health, health and more health. If he stays healthy, he’ll achieve the consistency that eluded him in 2009.

    The question is: Can Helu stay healthy? Is it crucial that he get banged around in this spring practice in preparation for the 2010 season?

    Unfortunately, maybe. Nebraska is changing its offense enough that Helu can’t just sit out whole days of practice. And with a stud like Rex Burkhead nipping at his heels, Helu won’t let up, either.

    Helu is still an elusive runner who breaks tackles on the second level and instinctively knows how to found open space. As a pass-catcher, he’s improved. Helu needs work as a pass-blocker, which is why Burkhead may find a permanent place as the third-down guy.

    Mostly, Helu - when healthy - is a bellcow who gets with each carry, threatens to break runs just about every time he gets the ball, and rarely takes a loss. His runs in the Kansas and Missouri games, where he bounced broken plays all the way to the sideline for huge gains, are simply not runs Burkhead can make. Burkhead is a good, straight-on runner, but Helu is able to plot his moves two or three defenders ahead of time. That’s a rare, key commodity to have, and Shawn Watson knows it.

    The Best - And Worst - Coaches in the Big 12.


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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, roy helu

  7. 2010 Mar 19

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 7

    4,429 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    RB Rex Burkhead, 5-11, 200, So.

    If he isn’t already, Burkhead is on his way to becoming the most popular Nebraska player among NU fan. His character and humble demeanor is part of it, but it’s more Burkhead’s style and game.

    As a runner, he’s tough and doesn’t quit. He doesn’t lose yards. He makes one move, hits the hole and barrels confidently. Concerns - we had them, too - that Burkhead wouldn’t be durable were completely unfounded and wrong. A freak foot break may have sideline Burkhead for a good chunk of the season, but the guy who came back at the end of year was better than the guy who got hurt.

    We’ll see if Burkhead remains the Wildcat quarterback, or if that job is passed to Taylor Martinez. Because the Wildcat is essentially a power running game out of the shotgun, we have a hunch Burkhead will still man the role some of the time. He’s likely to become NU’s third-down back, as well, because of his superior hands and better pass-blocking skills.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, rex burkhead

  8. 2010 Mar 19

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 8

    4,030 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DB Prince Amukamara, 6-1, 200, Sr.

    At the beginning of Prince Amukamara’s career, fans rightly wondered whether a guy who had been so dazzling on offense in high school was best kept on the defensive side of the ball. Through two average seasons at cornerback, those bleats got a little louder.

    Amukamara shut down all such concerns last year like he did many of the Big 12’s best receivers. Though far from a finished product in 2009, Amukamara had flashes of brilliance, aggression and great coverage skill for the Huskers - enough to get NFL Draftniks buzzing about a potential early entry to the league. Amukamara wisely stayed, however, for his senior season, where he’ll try to couple even more knowledge with his prodigious physical talents.

    As an athlete, Amukamara might be the best on the team - friend Roy Helu calls him a “freak” - and he developed better timing in 2009. Fast enough for deep routes - with a big enough to body up taller receivers, Amukamara is pretty everything you want in a boundary corner: Rangy and speedy. He’s also become a better tackler.

    So what’s left? Amukamara has to become better on jump ball situations - he was burned a few times in the Texas Tech and Texas games - and needs to work on not face-guarding his opponent. The more film study he does, the better he’ll be. Amukamara has a real chance to be Nebraska’s best pure corner since Ralph Brown.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, prince amukamara

  9. 2010 Mar 19

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 9

    4,459 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DE Pierre Allen, 6-5, 265, Sr.

    After a sophomore season that had a few pundits thinking Allen might be ready for the NFL very soon, a nasty turf toe injury limited the Colorado native throughout 2009. Allen was still productive on the field, but, unsurprisingly, he seemed to have lost a step.

    Presuming that step has returned, look out in 2010.

    With long arms and upper-body strength, Allen is already a powerful defensive end who’s technically proficient. With the toe healed after the offseason, expect to see Allen contend for double-digit sacks - if Cameron Meredith doesn’t get there first, anyway.

    Allen, a silent partner last season who rarely talked to the media (much like his buddy Barry Turner) will likely open up this year as he takes on more of a leadership role on the defense. Between he, Meredith and Jared Crick (still to come on our list) Nebraska should have another excellent defensive line.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, pierre allen

  10. 2010 Mar 17

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 10

    5,060 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    LG Keith Williams, 6-5, 315, Sr.

    Now or never for Nebraska’s most talented interior offensive lineman. Injuries significantly slowed what should have been a breakout year for Williams; he was in and out of the lineup early in the year, and, because of NU’s thin depth at the position, never got a chance to rest his torn pectoral muscle. Playing with that is a bit like playing with a heart attack; it’s no joke. That Williams played some many games is a little amazing - it also speaks to how hard-up the Huskers really were.

    Health is the primary concern with Williams; if he has that, he’s a top-shelf guard in the Big 12, among the best. Physical and possessing good feet, Williams is also plenty tough and a good run blocker for a left guard. He pulls well and gets his hat on the right side of defenders in a zone scheme. He simply must stay healthy.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, keith williams

  11. 2010 Mar 17

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 11

    4,638 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    CB Alfonzo Dennard, 5-9, 190, Jr.

    Loves to compete out on the island. Dennard has incredible hops for a kid his size - his dunks on the basketball court are sometimes recounted by his teammates - but it’s Dennard’s instincts, his sense of timing, that are his biggest strengths. Although a double move will occasionally fool him, it’s very hard to get a go route past him, and he’ll battle the short routes with tenacity and technique. He breaks on the ball better than any Husker defensive back - yes, even better than Dejon Gomes - and he’s a decent open-field tackler.

    Dennard has to stay healthy, though, and we’ll see if, long-term, he’s able to do that and still take the risks that he does on jump balls. Dennard sometimes gets so vertical he goes horizontal, and that’s never a position you want to achieve in the air, for the results when you hit the ground are rarely good.

    Still, we can’t help but see a little Barron Miles - the former Husker all-conference player who just finished what appears to be a hall-of-fame career in the Canadian Football League - in Dennard. The kid sells out for the team - and we love that.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, alfonzo dennard

  12. 2010 Mar 17

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 12

    5,135 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DE Cameron Meredith, 6-4, 260, So.

    Big fan of the kid who wears Trev Alberts’ old number. Meredith has the frame, smarts and speed to be a great end at NU, a prototypical NFL base end with enough speed to cause pain for top-flight offensive tackles. After spending a year working a rotation with Pierre Allen and Barry Turner, Meredith should easily get the start - probably at rush end - where Husker fans will get to see his talents on a down-by-down basis.

    Good leverage, surprisingly quick in pursuit and decent at playing the run, Meredith will benefit, like Turner did, from having the impressive inside push of guy like Jared Crick. Because Meredith is strong enough to force his way across the face of a tackle, he may not always have to play outside contain like Turner appeared to do last year. As Meredith develops more pass-rushing moves, he’ll become a more dangerous weapon for defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. This is a future all-conference player waiting to happen - and all-conference in the Big 12 is NFL-worthy.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, cameron meredith

  13. 2010 Mar 16

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 13

    5,550 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    S Eric Hagg, 6-2, 205, Sr.

    Boy, is Carl Pelini going to miss this kid when he graduates in 2010. Hagg is one of the great gifts of the Callahan era, a safety with range to body up receivers up to 25 yards - he’s not so great in deep coverage - the size and toughness to make plays in run support, and the speed and athleticism to blitz off the edge. Hagg will likely stay at his nickel position in spring and perhaps throughout the fall; he’s just too important to the Brothers’ Pelini’s designs on stopping the spread. Hagg will find a spot in the NFL in some capacity.

    Where Hagg can improve is in deep coverage, where, at times, he loses track of the ball in flight and faceguards too much. Still - the kid is durable, dependable and a frequent playmaker. He’s one of the main reasons NU’s secondary is one of the best in the country.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, eric hagg

  14. 2010 Mar 16

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 14

    5,503 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    OT Jermarcus Hardrick, 6-7, 315, Jr.

    So here’s NU’s equivalent of a big free agent signing, a giant, tough, hard-driving right tackle who can anchor the running game and provide a key, immediate dose of depth. It helps that Hardrick is considered the best JUCO tackle recruit in the country. Nebraska is hoping for its own version of Phil Loadholt, frankly, who anchored Oklahoma’s right side and was a key catalyst for the Sooners’ success in the running game.

    We haven’t seen Hardrick in NU practice, so we won’t bestow too many hosannas on the kid, but his JUCO video shows an angry sort who can move pile - if not always with the best technique - and seems to play the position with a chip on his shoulder. Bo Pelini especially likes kids who play like they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, jermarcus hardrick

  15. 2010 Mar 16

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 15

    5,920 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    WR Brandon Kinnie, 6-3, 215, Jr.

    Kinnie appeared to wrest control of the second wide receiver spot toward the end of the 2009 season, making a clutch third-down catch in the Big 12 Championship game. He certainly has the frame and giant hands to be a good receiver; whether he’s fast enough, or a sharp route-runner, remains to be seen. Knnie will be the guy Nebraska goes to when Niles Paul is bracketed by coverage; his success, thus, is tied to helping Paul get open, too.

    Kinnie’s biggest strength may be his positive, infectious personality. He willingly took a lesser role in 2009 to learn blocking and route-running and quickly ingratiated himself into the wide receiving corps. His presence at NU will help open the recruiting doors for Ft. Scott (Kan.) JUCO; in fact, Nebraska has already landed Kinnie’s former teammates, Lavonte David and Yoshi Hardrick.

    We’re skeptical of Nebraska’s receiving corps - and NU’s earned that skepticism over time. Kinnie appears to be a 50-catch guy. But so did Menelik Holt. And Chris Brooks. We’ll reserve a heaping of praise until Kinnie actually performs on the field.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, brandon kinnie

  16. 2010 Mar 15

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 16

    6,134 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    TE Mike McNeill, 6-4, 240, Sr.

    There are rumblings that McNeill could see some time at wide receiver, or at least spend more time in a split position, catching passes in the slot. We wouldn’t put it past the Huskers to do that, because, at times, McNeill gets a bit lost in the middle of the field, and frankly doesn’t make a ton of catches down the seam. He’s effective in the short playaction game or down the field.

    At times, one wonders if McNeill is angry enough as a tight end. Despite being blessed with a perfect frame for the position, he doesn’t always use it on jump balls.

    McNeill improved as an edge blocker in 2009, but he won’t confuse any Husker fan with William Washington. Still - he doesn’t have to leave in heavy formations, which helps in the playaction game.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, mike mcneill

  17. 2010 Mar 15

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 17

    5,843 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    DT Terrence Moore, 6-3, 285, Jr.

    Moore struggled with foot injuries throughout the 2009 season, and qualified as one of the few defensive disappointments of the year. He’s explosive with his first step, but needs to refine his technique and learn how to fight off blockers once he’s engaged. A bit undersized, but strong. If Moore is healthy, he - not Baker Steinkuehler - is the preferable fit at the nose tackle. His lack of useful experience to this point in his career is a demerit.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, terrence moore

  18. 2010 Mar 15

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 18

    6,740 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    RG Ricky Henry, 6-4, 300, Sr.

    Most fans were expecting a snorting beast at right guard last year; what Ricky Henry provided, aside from a couple costly penalties - his holding call negated a NU touchdown in the Virginia Tech game and more or less cost the Huskers the win - a steady, healthy presence at right guard.

    A powerful, physical run blocker who led the team in pancakes, Henry became a better pass blocker as the season progressed. He still needs to get better at cut blocking should Nebraska choose to run more option in 2010 - which we suspect will be the case.

    Henry has put himself in position to potentially get picked in the NFL Draft - but it’s important he cut out mental mistakes and continue to develop his footwork. As a pulling guard on running plays, Henry can be devastating. Just ask Colorado’s defense.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, ricky henry

  19. 2010 Mar 10

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 19

    7,788 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    RB Dontrayevous Robinson 6-1, 215, So.

    We liked this kid before the 2009 season began. He seemed determined, angry in drills. He’s serious about being a complete back, and when pressed into service, he seemed chastened by his costly fumble in the Iowa State game (although it was only one of nine turnovers).

    Robinson is a strong, straight-ahead, no-fuss runner who needs to improve his speed and ball security. He could also stand to get a few moves, instead of attacking defenders like Christian Okoye. Once Robinson learns to run with a little patience and flow - while maintaining that tenacity, he’ll become what Quentin Castille was on his way to becoming before he got booted from the team.

    Another advantage of playing Robinson is that, because of his playing experience at Euless (Tex.) Trinity High School, he’s versatile. He can catch passes and pass block. That’s more than could be said of Roy Helu or Castille when they entered college.

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, traye robinson

  20. 2010 Mar 10

    50 Huskers to Know: No. 20

    6,479 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    LB Eric Martin 6-2, 215, So.

    A bullet of a special teams player, fearless and ferocious, Martin has to slow down and let the game come to him if he’s to supplant Sean Fisher or Will Compton at that nickel/dime linebacker position. Martin certain has the physical skills; he’s carries a big frame, packs a wallop and gets to his destination in a hurry. As a pass defender, he’s capable. Where Martin may struggled is with a playaction game or misdirection, zone read plays spread teams like so much.

    It’s inevitable that Martin will be a starting linebacker at NU, barring injuries. The question becomes: What’s the learning curve?

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    Tags: 50 huskers to know 2010, eric martin

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