Nebraska Football: 5 Cornhuskers Who Could Surprise This Spring
For Nebraska football fans, one of the great joys of spring practice is to see which players emerge. There’s little doubt about what you are going to get from established contributors like Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory. But the fun of spring practice is to find those new names, ones you did not expect, to start contributing on a regular basis for Nebraska.
Here are five names to watch out for this spring that may be some of those surprise performers.
With a wealth of young talent, it’s tough to stand out at linebacker for Nebraska. But of the entire corps, senior Zaire Anderson may be the most talented. He has been hampered by injuries over the last two years since he arrived as a junior college transfer, so he hasn’t been able to fully shine.
Now healthy, Anderson could really make a mark on the depth chart and on Nebraska fans this spring.
When Taylor Martinez was injured last year, Tommy Armstrong was pressed into service and became Nebraska’s de facto starting quarterback (for the most part). While there were a lot of impressive moments, most notably the game-winning drive in Ann Arbor, Armstrong also struggle with inconsistent passing accuracy and turnovers.
But remember that not only was Armstrong pressed into service without the benefit of a full spring practice as a starter, he was also running an offense that was built around the skill-set of Martinez. This spring, with an offense more tailored towards his skills (and those of Johnny Stanton, of course), Armstrong really has a chance to succeed.
Nebraska’s starting I-back position is pretty well sewn up. But competition for the backup spot looks to be fierce this year. Junior Imani Cross has the experience, but has failed to impress in his two years on campus. Sophomore Terrell Newby showed flashes of brilliance with his speed last year, but was wildly inconsistent and struggled with turnovers.
So the door is wide open for Adam Taylor, coming off a redshirt year, to make a name for himself. With a combination of size and speed, Taylor could very well end up earning quite a bit of playing time this spring.
One of the great cliches in sports is that you can’t coach speed. Sophomore wide receiver Alonzo Moore has that uncoachable trait in abundance. Injuries have hampered his development as a wide receiver, which has limited his ability to work his way up Nebraska’s depth chart at a position of strength.
But with the departure of Quincy Enunwa, and the inability of Jamal Turner to really break out and become a dominant offensive weapon, look for Moore to make a big mark on Nebraska’s wide receiver corps.
UPDATE: Per Corn Nation, Moore will not participate in spring practice due to a shoulder injury. Obviously that mean he won't have an impact this spring, but I would still tab him a player to watch this fall.
Another of the great cliches in football is that you don’t bring a junior college player in to ride the bench. And yet that’s exactly what happened with Matt Finnin, who was unable to crack the starting lineup on Nebraska’s offensive line last year. If a juco transfer can’t get a start, conventional wisdom says, he must not be very good.
Perhaps that’s true. But Finnin also had quite a bit of competition for his position at tackle last year, competition that is not present in 2014 with the departure of Brent Qvale and Jeremiah Sirles. This spring, look for Finnin to prove his talent and cement a spot as a starter on Nebraska’s offensive line.
If you'd like to contact Patrick, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.