Lost in the endless talk of the team's talented defense, which is composed of three All-Americans and multiple future NFL draft picks, along with the well-documented transition from the Big 12 to the Big Ten is the continued development of senior wide receiver Brandon Kinnie.
The Kansas City native finished his junior season with 44 receptions and 494 yards, as well as five scores. One of his most productive games came against Washington when he hauled in five receptions and eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career.
Simply put, Kinnie, when given the opportunity, was a valuable part of the Nebraska offense. Entering his senior season and final go-around in Lincoln, Kinnie is ready to rack up the numbers.
"You hear critics, is BK fast enough, is he this or that," said Kinnie. "I'm working hard to be a vocal leader and a player. I'm just sctaching the surface of the type of player I could be."
This offseason, Kinnie has been working to improve his game both physically and mentally on-and-off the field. He has even learned multiple wide receiver spots.
"The more positions you can learn, the move valuable you are," said Kinnie. "I have been learning different positions in the fall and summer camps. It's fun and you don't want to get locked into one spot."
Responsible for feeding him the ball is sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez. The dual-threat option is an incredible athlete, and when he is fully healthy, he is one of the best in the nation and creating plays out of nothing. With nearly 1,000 rushing yards and over 1,600 passing yards last season, Martinez is bound to improve upon those numbers.
"He's being more vocal, being more confident. He's walking around with a chip on his shoulder like he's got something to prove. When we break the huddles down, he's breaking it down. He never did that last year," said Kinnie. "He's more vocal and he's confident. He's controlling things at the line. He's calling plays and checks and stuff like that. I believe if your quarterback is confident, it makes your whole offense confident."
Because of this, Kinnie is beyond excited to be working with such an incredible player.
"It's great. He's grown up a lot," said Kinnie. "We have been throwing extra a lot, you can see his progress."
It's his senior season, and Kinnie, like every other player across the nation in his final year of eligibility, would love nothing else to win it all.
With a newly implemented Big Ten conference championship game, the odds of a Big Ten team earning a right in the final game is more likely than ever before – that is, if they finish undefeated or with just one-loss.
"Yeah. I think we've always been hungry for something," said Kinnie. "But going away and thinking that we should have two Big 12 Championships is huge for us. But at the same time, the past is the past. We just got to deal with what is now and move forward."
And as for those opposing Big Ten defenses, all of which will be seeing this Nebraska offense on a daily basis for the first time, Kinnie has a message for them.
***Edited by Josh Harvey***