Nebraska Football: 5 Players Who Should See Their Roles Expanded in 2014
Nebraska football fans will obsessively spend each offseason wondering which players they will be seeing more of.
Guessing the breakout star, the next great Cornhusker legend, keeps Nebraska fans going through the spring and summer until fall camp starts in earnest.
So let’s take a look at what we know now and pick out five players who could be those breakout stars to make names for themselves in 2014.
Spring practice for Nebraska started with a bang when we learned that wide receiver Jamal Turner was receiving snaps at quarterback.
No one really expects Turner to compete with Tommy Armstrong, Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe for time at quarterback. However, it does show a willingness from Nebraska to get Turner—an athlete with electric speed and impressive evasiveness—on the field in different ways.
Behind Ameer Abdullah at I-back, it’s hard not to be excited at the prospect of Adam Taylor coming off his redshirt season. Taylor has the size and speed, we’re led to believe, to be a real every-down back in offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s scheme.
However, in all of Nebraska’s deep corps of I-backs, Terrell Newby stands out for his pure and unadulterated speed. There’s a reason Newby saw the field in 2013 while Taylor redshirted, and it is largely due to that uncoachable speed he possesses.
With a year of experience to clean up some of his ball-handling issues, look for Newby to be featured more prominently in Nebraska’s offense next season.
It’s always looked like the breakthrough is around the corner for wide receiver Taariq Allen.
In 2012, Allen made a spectacular catch against Northwestern to help spark Nebraska’s improbable comeback win. Then he had his season ended the following week against Michigan with a knee injury.
Allen has struggled since then to get himself back on the field and able to compete for playing time.
This year, it appears that Allen is recovered from his injuries and looking the part of a seasoned veteran, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.
Even though Nebraska’s wide receiver corps is stacked, look for Allen to make his mark in 2014.
The graduation of Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans leaves a significant leadership gap in Nebraska’s secondary next season.
One of its smallest members at 5’11” and 160 pounds, senior cornerback Josh Mitchell may be filling that void in 2014.
Take a look at this practice report from Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star:
After the offense drove for a score in the first Saturday scrimmage, Mitchell called a huddle and delivered a pep talk with words not all fit for print. Let it be said the offense did not drive for a score on the next series.
Mitchell is the runaway favorite to be a starting cornerback next season. Don’t be surprised if you see a captain’s “C” on his chest as well.
The loss of defensive end Avery Moss for the 2014 season was a big problem for Nebraska’s defense.
Sure, there’s no doubt that Randy Gregory will be the anchor on one side of the line. However, without Moss, it was looking like NU would have to rely on the relatively untested Greg McMullen and the completely untested A.J. Natter and Joe Keels to contribute in that defensive end rotation.
Therefore, it was surprising and intriguing to see Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star report that sophomore defensive tackle Maliek Collins was getting some snaps at defensive end.
Yes, the 6'2", 300-pound Collins, apparently with enough speed and athleticism that coaches will at least give him a look coming around the end.
If that thought doesn’t excite you (or terrify you, if you’re an opposing quarterback), you’re not paying attention.
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