The Nebraska media has been lucky to watch nine practices during fall camp and will conclude our run with No. 10 on Saturday. The Huskers are scheduled to scrimmage inside Memorial Stadium and it will be the last time the media is allowed to attend.
So who has caught our eye in fall camp? Big Red Report gives you 16 names who’s stock were altered to do our observations.
RB.) Mikale Wilbon – The redshirt freshman was often an afterthought this offseason going into fall camp. An intense focus this summer though has helped the former Illinois prep climb the depth chart. He looks like he’s the Huskers No. 2 running back right now behind Terrell Newby. He really fits well in Nebraska’s scheme and has improved his pass protection according to offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.
OG.) Dylan Utter – The junior was part of the Huskers’ starting front five in the spring, but many felt he could be passed up by redshirt freshman Jerald Foster or even senior Givens Price when fall camp started. Foster is still running with the second-team and Price is on defense. Utter has solidified himself at the left guard spot. It’s very likely a scholarship could be coming the walk-on’s way in the near future.
RB.) Devine Ozigbo – With a stable full of running backs, Ozigbo was supposed to redshirt in 2015. It still could happen, but the odds are on the true freshman to now play. The former Texas prep is constantly being mentioned by head coach Mike Riley as someone who just fits in. At 225-pounds, he’s a bigger back, but has more versatility than that of an Imani Cross when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield. Ozigbo is hard to bring down.
CB.) Joshua Kalu – In what was supposed to be a fierce battle at cornerback, but Kalu took control of the position the first practice and has never relinquished it. He’s also playing NICKEL, which means the sophomore will likely be on the field about every down. Kalu seemed to improve throughout fall camp.
WR.) Stanley Morgan – A whole story could be written about the true freshman wide receiver, who appears to be a lock to play – even before De’Mornay Pierson-El’s injury. Morgan can catch the ball in traffic. He can out jump corners downfield. And while he doesn’t possess blazing speed, his route running ability helps him get open often. The former Louisiana prep just looks polished. We thought he would play in 2015, but not at the level he is currently showing. He does not look like a freshman.
QB.) Ryker Fyfe – With rumors swirling that Fyfe wouldn’t even be on the roster in 2015, the Grand Island product has had a very solid fall camp and propelled himself into the backup role by Tommy Armstrong. Mike Riley even admits, while the junior’s throwing motion is a bit unorthodox, he gets the job done.
DT.) Kevin Williams – It would have been easy to put Williams on the stock down list, after his first practice rant to the media. But, the senior has looked great filling in for Vincent Valentine. There really hasn’t been much of a drop off, if at all. If he can stay healthy, he will be a big asset to the Nebraska defensive line.
K.) Drew Brown – A projected kicking battle hasn’t really turned out to be a battle at all. Brown has been impressive – looking more accurate and boasting a stronger leg than from a year ago. It took only a few practices to see the improvement by the former Texas prep. Special teams coach Bruce Read was very complimentary of Brown on Thursday.
WR.) De'Mornay Pierson-El – A Jones fracture will sideline the sophomore Big Ten Player to Watch for at least six weeks. Head coach Mike Riley on Thursday said the Huskers expect him back and expect him to play a lot of football in 2015, but who knows how long it will take to heal? DPE came to Nebraska very raw as a receiver, but definitely looked like he worked hard at his craft in the offseason.
OT.) Zach Sterup – A senior with 10 starts and 25 career appearances, Sterup returned to the practice field after missing the entire spring with a knee injury. At this point, it doesn’t look like the Hastings native is the same player he once was. Sterup is running with the second-team offense, behind redshirt freshman Nick Gates. If Nebraska’s offensive line is hit with injury bug, it’s nice to have a backup like Sterup, who has been in the fire.
RB.) Adam Taylor – Big Red Report projected the redshirt sophomore to be the No. 2 guy behind Newby once the season hit, but now it appears he will be fighting for carries after the rise of Wilbon and possibly even Ozigbo. If Nebraska goes with a running back by committee approach, Taylor will be in competition with Cross and Ozigbo for the third back spot.
QB.) Zack Darlington - Another guy Big Red Report projected to win the top backup job, Darlington looks like he will be the Huskers No. 4 quarterback going into the season, behind Armstrong, Fyfe, and A.J. Bush. This after coming on late in the spring and a nice Red-White game performance.
K.) Jamie Sutcliffe – The junior college transfer has a chance to be the Huskers’ kickoff specialist, but a projected position battle with Drew Brown to be Nebraska’s place-kicker never really got off the ground. Brown was just too good.
OG.) Tanner Farmer – The former Illinois prep is just a redshirt freshman, which means he has plenty of time to impress. Patience is key here. That being said, we figured we would have seen a strong push by the former high school All-American for a starting spot. Right now, Farmer’s spot on the second-team isn’t locked up. With the coaching staff’s plan to not rotate much on the offensive line, it’s doubtful he plays much in 2015.
DB.) Charles Jackson – The former four-star prospect a few years ago was set to be Nebraska’s starting nickel. Now, Jackson can been seen running with the third and fourth team defense at times, after missing most of the spring with an injury. Jackson has worked in the punt return game. The guy has a ton of talent.
OL/DL.) Givens Price - The senior has moved over to the defensive side of the football and will look to make contributions at defensive tackle. It will be a tough task, with guys like Maliek Collins, Vincent Valentine, Kevin Maurice, Williams, and Mick Stoltenberg likely ahead of him right now. Coming into the season, we thought he might contend for a starting spot at guard. A jumbo package of McMullen, Collins, Valentine, and Price might be fun to watch.