Top 10 Countdown: No. 9

Over the next 20 days, Big Red Report’s Josh Harvey and Bryan Munson will countdown their most important 10 players to Nebraska success in 2014.

Harvey’s pick:
OL – Jake Cotton
Sophomore / 6-foot-5, 305-pounds

It’s hard to express the growth Cotton showed in the spring as a leader of the front five. With guys like Jeremiah Sirles and Cole Pensick beside him last season, it wasn’t an area he had to worry about.

The Blackshirts were swarming in the spring, causing quite a few tackles behind the line of scrimmage. When an offensive lineman missed his assignment or just got beat, it was Cotton first that responded in a motivating way.

Playing alongside likely Colorado transfer Alex Lewis on the left side, expect offensive coordinator Tim Beck to rely heavily on the duo – especially early in the season.

Munson’s pick:
DB – Corey Cooper
Senior / 6-foot-1, 215-pounds

Arguably the most improved player on the Nebraska defense last year, Cooper will be looked upon this season to be a leader.

Gone are Harvey Jackson (transfer), Andrew Green, Ciante Evans, Mohammed Seisay and Stanley Jean-Baptiste from last year. Cooper has his hands full trying to “quarterback” a defense from his safety position, playing for a new position coach on a defense that has potential.

Quick, name who led the 2013 team in tackles? Yes, it would be Cooper. The first team all-Big Ten selection is built like a linebacker and plays like one too. You might anticipate Cooper to improve on his interceptions from 2013 (had one), but it won’t be Josh Bullocks type numbers.

Bottom line, Cooper just needs to keep big plays against the Nebraska defense from happening. Big plays are going to come at every level and Cooper will get his opportunities. Cooper’s name will need to be more synonymous this season with consistent than flashes if Nebraska is to have a successful season.

Big Red Report Top Stories