photo and story by Patrick Runge
Nebraska football fans know already that new head coach Mike Riley won’t be putting out a two-deep after spring practice. So apparently it’s up to us to fill that urgent need. Of course, this is filled with speculation in terms of where the players stand now in the eyes of the new coaching staff, and could change dramatically by September.
But, come on, it’s April. Let’s live a little given how long we have to wait for football to come back.
Alex Lewis might be the only certain starter of the bunch, so this position group looks to be in flux between now and fall camp. The return of Ryne Reeves will make a particular difference both for depth and competition at center.
LT: Alex Lewis, Zach Sterup
LG: Zach Sterup, DJ Foster
C: Paul Thurston, Ryne Reeves
RG: Chongo Kondolo, Zach Hannon
RT: Givens Mordi Price, David Knevel
It’s still Tommy Armstrong’s world, until and unless one of the contenders can step up and take the job away from him. As for I-back, being the starter might not mean a lot as the position will likely be a committee rather than one bell-cow back.
QB: Tommy Armstrong, Zack Darlington
IB: Terrell Newby, Adam Taylor
FB: Andy Janovich, Mitch McCann
The starting receivers actually look pretty settled, although there could be quite a bit of competition for the next man up. Cethan Carter’s return should make Nebraska’s offense much more dangerous with what he provides at tight end.
WR X: Jordan Westerkamp, Brandon Reilly
WR Y: Jamal Turner, Jariah Tolbert
WR A: De’Mornay Pierson-El, Alonzo Moore
TE: Cethan Carter, Sam Cotton
Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine could be the best defensive end pairing in the Big Ten this season. But who will be in the rotation at defensive end—as well as behind Collins and Valentine—could be quite a question to answer
DE: Jack Gangwish, A.J. Natter
DE: Greg McMullen, Freedom Akinmoladun
DT: Maliek Collins, Kevin Maurice
DT: Vincent Valentine, Kevin Williams
If nothing else, the linebacker position might make Riley feel right at home. Given Nebraska’s depth problems, a two-deep at linebacker could prove challenging for NU to field, particularly if there are any injuries of significance.
MIKE: Josh Banderas, David Santos
WILL: Michael Rose-Ivey, Luke Gifford
SAM: Marcus Newby, Dedrick Young
It will look a little strange to not see “Nickel” as part of a two-deep for Nebraska, but new defensive coordinator Mark Banker’s quarters system will usually keep all three linebackers on the field. Given the depth at this position, the two-deep is likely to exclude a number of talented players.
CB: Daniel Davie, Josh Kalu
CB: Byerson Cockrell, Jonathan Rose
S: Nate Gerry, Charles Jackson
S: LeRoy Alexander, Kieron Williams
Not a lot of competition at most of these positions, but excelling on special teams could be a huge competitive advantage for Nebraska in 2015. Assuming it can get the placekicking position sorted out …
PK: Drew Brown, Mauro Bondi
P: Sam Foltz, Mauro Bondi
KOS: Mauro Bondi, Drew Brown
LS: Jordan Ober, Josh Faulkenberry
Punt Return: De’Mornay Pierson-El, Jamal Turner
Kick Return: De’Mornay Pierson-El, Jamal Turner