In Big Red Report's next magazine, our recruiting yearbook, we also take a look at spring practices, breaking down each position in a media roundtable. What are some of the things to watch? Who might be ready to step up? For a sneak peak, here is a look at the offensive line group.
We would like to thank the Lincoln Journal Star's Steve Sipple and Brian Christopherson for participating with our own Josh Harvey and Bryan Munson.
Sipple: The center position I wonder about. I like Mark Pelini, he's a tough kid and smart as hell. He's proven he could probably be an every-down type of guy. I wonder what their plan there is though. I like Mike Moudy and am interested in his development – he took such a big jump last year before the injury. You wonder about (Zach) Sterup - can he step up? It's time now. He's a junior and has to hold down one of those tackle spots. If you are Nebraska, you also hope David Knevel becomes a player that can contribute. I think Alex Lewis is ultimately your starting tackle, but if the rotation is Lewis, Knevel, and Sterup, I think you have something there.Jake Cotton really needs to have a big part at left guard. He had an okay last year, but I think there is another level he feels he can hit. The center spot is interesting because you have to replace Cole Pensick, who I think at times was under-appreciated. Is it Mark Pelini that wins the job? Chongo Kondolo is a guy you have to keep an eye on, because he can play center or guard. I think overall there are a bunch of guys we have sort of heard about, who will now get their chance.
Munson: I am very interested to see what a couple of last season's redshirts will do this spring on the offensive line. I am going to pay close attention to Chongo Kondolo and David Knevel in particular. There is good reason to believe Kondolo could have played last season and a redshirt year was what the doctor ordered for Knevel. Opposite, I want to see if Zach Sterup can take one of the tackle spots and I am wondering if a guy like Matt Finnin or Alex Lewis factors in. Then there is what is going to happen at center. Is it another walk-on with Mark Pelini or is that Kondolo's spot? What about Paul Thurston? At guard you have guys like Jake Cotton and Mike Moudy that seem to be the frontrunners while players like Ryne Reeves and Givens Price that will be solid contributors as backups. This is a fairly deep and talented group that is lacking some experience.
Harvey: It's obvious the front five's rotation will look drastically different than in years past, but for me I think the biggest question really comes more on the leadership side of things on the offensive line. Spencer Long and Jeremaih Sirles last year weren't just veterans, they were old guys. They spewed leadership, not that they really had to with other veterans like Cole Pensick, Andrew Rodriguez, and Brent Qvale playing beside them. Now, who steps up and becomes a leader? Is it Jake Cototn, who has the most playing time of any returner? What about the senior Mark Pelini? I think leadership is crucial at the OL position - it really sets the tone.