photo and article by Patrick Runge
Nebraska football fans know that fall camp is about to start, and with fall camp comes the depth chart battles that will help define the 2014 season. So while there are no official depth charts, we can speculate as to where things are at least starting out as fall camp opens. Of course, the battles in fall camp will go a long way towards determining what Nebraska’s depth chart will look like on August 30 when NU tees the ball up against Florida Atlantic.
But until then, here’s at least a glimpse of where things might stand. Returning starters are in italics.
While the offensive line will be seeing a lot of new starters, thanks to the injuries many of this year’s pipeline will have gained valuable experience last year. Colorado transfer Alex Lewis, should he hold the job through fall camp, could be one of the most valuable additions to Nebraska’s roster in 2014.
Left Tackle: Alex Lewis, David Knevel
Left Guard: Jake Cotton, Chongo Kondolo
Center: Mark Pelini, Ryne Reeves
Right Guard: Mike Moudy, Dwayne Johnson
Right Tackle: Zach Sterup, Tanner Farmer
While Johnny Stanton may have the talent to be the next guy, it seems as if Ryker Fife has the inside track on the backup spot given his mastery of the playbook. Backups to Ameer Abdullah should be fluid, with Adam Taylor and Terrell Newby seeing packages specific for them.
Quarterback: Tommy Armstrong, Ryker Fife
I-Back: Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross
Fullback: Andy Janovic, Mitch McCann
Kenny Bell is the undisputed leader of Nebraska’s receiver corps, but after Bell the depth chart should be fluid throughout the season. Perhaps the most fascinating battle will be at the slot receiver position between Jamal Turner and Jordan Westerkamp—will Turner’s as-of-yet unrealized potential outweigh Westerkamp’s consistency?
Wide Receiver (X): Kenny Bell, Brandon Reilly
Wide Receiver (Z): Alonzo Moore, Taariq Allen
Wide Receiver (A): Jordan Westerkamp, Jamal Turner
Tight End: Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton
Randy Gregory will be the first name written on any depth chart, but behind him fall camp will go a long way to sort things out. Look for Vincent Valentine and Greg McMullen to take advantage of the time to solidify their positions
Defensive End: Randy Gregory, A.J. Natter
Defensive Tackle: Aaron Curry, Maliek Collins
Defensive Tackle: Vincent Valentine, Kevin Maurice
Defensive End: Greg McMullen, Joe Keels
Linebacker is a peculiar position for Nebraska. There is a lot of talent, but there is very little in terms of clearly-won positions. Zaire Anderson looks to be the strongest overall talent, and Michael Rose did a lot to win the MIKE position last year. After that, the depth chart could be in play throughout the linebacker corps.
BUCK Linebacker: Josh Banderas, Courtney Love
MIKE Linebacker: Michael Rose, Trevor Roach
WILL Linebacker: Zaire Anderson, David Santos
Nebraska does have some returning experience in the secondary with cornerback Josh Mitchell and safety Corey Cooper. The battle for the other starting cornerback position between Jonathan Rose and Byerson Cockrell could be one of the most entertaining of the fall camp. And seeing the amazing athletic talent of Charles Jackson replace Ciante Evans at NICKEL could be a difference-making change for the Blackshirts.
Cornerback: Josh Mitchell, Boaz Joseph
Safety: Corey Cooper, Nathan Gerry
Safety: LeRoy Alexander, D.J. Singleton
Cornerback: Jonathan Rose, Byerson Cockrell
NICKEL: Charles Jackson
Hold your breath, Nebraska fans, we’re likely to see a true freshman enter fall camp as the de facto starting placekicker. How Drew Brown holds up to the pressure could be a defining element of Nebraska’s 2014 campaign. And look for some game-breaking talent to take the reins of the return game, helping to improve from last season.
Placekicker: Drew Brown
Kickoff Specialist: Mauro Bondi
Punter: Sam Foltz
Holder: Sam Foltz
Long Snapper: Gabriel Miller
Punt Returner: Jamal Turner, Terrell Newby
Kick Returner: Jamal Turner, Terrell Newby