Notebook: WR talk

The wide receiver position is loaded this spring in Lincoln.

LINCOLN, Neb. - After a solid few practices with the second-team offense, Nebraska senior wide receiver Jamal Turner got the bulk of the first-team reps at the slot position on Monday afternoon.

"He's working harder and flashing more, so we reward playing time that way," said offensive coordinator Tim Beck. "It's nothing against Jordan [Westerkamp], because I think he's having a good spring as well, but we have to have depth."

Beck says the notion of a receiving being able to only catch from one quarterback is a misconception and it's the staff's goal to try to get everyone familiar with each other this spring.

"They better all be on the same page, because you have injuries and guys getting tired, those things happen," said Beck. "The last week or so, he's [Jamal Turner] had really good practices and were able to reward him for it."

Turner, who received time as a backup quarterback early in spring, has not worked the position since before the break. Beck said he had his reasons for the move, but did not elaborate any further.

Another walk-on vying for time:

Sam Burtch
As a walk-on in 2013, Sam Burtch came up big for the Huskers when his name was called. The Elmwood-Murdock high school product might have had only 13 catches, but filled in nicely when the wide receiver position was rattled with injuries. Now a junior, the former Nebraska prep is getting first-team reps and vying for a scholarship this next fall.

Sophomore Brandon Reilly appears to be on the same path.

Much like Burtch last spring, who was getting noticed by his teammates as a guy who could possibly step up in the fall, Reilly has impressed his peers the last few months with his ability to make the tough catch.

"That kid is a stud," said senior wide receiver Kenny Bell, the same Bell who is set to become one of Nebraska's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards in 2014. "You want to write about someone who is going to make plays here and will be big his last two years, talk about Reilly. The kid is a stud. He's talented. He's a walk-on guy, but he will be on scholarship next year. Mark my words."

With the graduation of Quincy Enunwa, valuable snaps are up for grabs among a handful of receivers this fall. Reilly says he already has confidence in his game, but comments from players like teammate Kenny Bell only fuel the fire.

"It gives me a boost that other people are seeing it to, but it's motivation that I can't give up and have to keep working at it," said Reilly. "I'm just trying to move up the charts and keep improving."


Jamal Turner (10) & Kenny Bell (80)
Despite dealing with a rash of injuries last fall, the wide receiver position was considered one of the deepest on the team going into the season.

While most would just look at the roster and figure the loss of potential NFL wide receiver Quincy Enunwa makes the group not quite as good as last year, it's not the case when talking to various wide receivers on the roster.

"We are deeper this year," said a smiling Bell. "We are deeper, at least by a couple guys. It's not even close. We are deep."

And it's not just the senior taking pride in his group.

"A lot of the young guys are starting to come up now," said Westerkamp. "Guys are just getting better as time goes on…we have a lot of guys stepping up and Kenny is really stepping into the Quincy type role as a leader. Everyone has had a good spring. It's been fun. It's been great to come out and compete."

With such a logjam at the position, practice reps become very valuable and likely hold extra weight compared to other groups.

"You try to go out there and be perfect. The competition is so high, you want to not make any mistakes and try to be perfect," said Westerkamp. "Coming out here it's really competitive and guys are doing big things."

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