Steinkuhler now the clear cut leader

Gone are the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick, despite their shadows remaining. The defensive tackle position leader is now Baker Steinkuhler.

Lincoln, NE - Nebraska senior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler can't be labeled the silent type. He will do interviews with the media when asked, but would rather have his play do the talking.

After starting 26 games in the last two seasons, with 13 appearances in 2009, one could say it feels like Steinkuhler has been around forever. But 2012 is his senior year. Gone are the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick, despite their shadows remaining. This defensive line belongs to Steinkuhler and fellow senior Cameron Meredith. And the senior defensive tackle is relishing in the role.

"You can look at it on paper and look at it on the screen while it's paused, but when it's out there and guys are flying, you got 22 players at full tempo, you are going to miss some things," said new Nebraska defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski. "That's where those experienced guys like Baker and Cam Meredith help me by coaching on the field.

"Baker's a guy who has had tons of success. As a coach, there are guys who have been in that room for three or four years and had tons of success on and off the field, so for those younger guys, just follow Baker...Just do what he does and you will be okay."

Steinkuhler recorded 40 tackles and two sacks last season – both categories seeing a small dip from 2010. But it's not numbers that jump out to Kaczenski. It's Steinkuhler's approach to every play.

"He goes hard every snap and doesn't take a play off. When you hustle, it doesn't guarantee success, but at least it gives you a chance. When you take a play off, don't hustle, you have no chance," said Kaczenski. "That's what is great about Baker. He is the guy offensive lineman hate to play against, because he keeps coming snap after snap after snap.

"He's also a technique guy and coachable. You tell him one time and he's going to execute it all day long. He's easy to coach."

One could argue that Steinkuhler is the defensive tackle with the least to gain from extra spring reps this offseason. But with an injury plagued position, he's getting those reps, and Big Red Report expects him to have a better 2012 season because of it.

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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