Valentine stepping up

It sounds like a light-bulb turned on for redshirt-freshman Vincent Valentine, who could be starting this Saturday for Nebraska.

LINCOLN, Neb. - After hearing his position coach and defensive coordinator show concern in the spring, and his head coach challenge him to take his game to a new level at Big Ten Media Days, redshirt freshman Vincent Valentine has apparently gotten the message.

On Tuesday, Nebraska defensive coordinator John Papuchis said if their contest against Wyoming on Saturday was tomorrow, Valentine would likely be starting opposite of senior Thad Randle.

"He's more physically mature," Papuchis said. "He's in better shape. He's better prepared for what he has to do each and every day. The thing that held Vincent back in the spring was he wasn't in great shape and it's hard to get a good evaluation on a guy when he's sucking wind. So he's in much better shape and that's allowed him to play better.

"There is a learning curve or a conditioning curve for those young guys. When you are coming off that redshirt year, it takes a while to get yourself in really good football shape. Vincent was probably in good running shape, Coach Dobson would give good reports about him, but he wasn't in great football shape."

At 6-foot-3, 325-pounds, Valentine has the size to be a force inside and a difference-maker up front.

"I think that gave him a little confidence boost and will push him during the season to play that much better," said fellow redshirt freshman defensive end Avery Moss, who was asked if Valentine was motivated by Pelini's message at Big Ten Media Days. "We need Vince right now, so I have complete faith that's he's going to be good."

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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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