NU 2004 Freshmen forecast (Defense)

On to part two of our freshmen forecast where the theme here is almost the opposite to the offense. Basically, if you want on this field this year you had better bring a lot of speed or have an acceptance to coming off the bench, because this starting unit is good. That doesn't mean nobody sees the field as you'll see in our defensive forecast of the freshmen to be.

Defensive End

Ty Steinkuhler - While his name gives him more recognition than his achievements, this is one young man that I think shouldn't be underrated in what he can potentially do. His size and speed are ok, but what this Nebraska kid brings to the table is what has been so typical of the solid Nebraska rush ends in recent history - a motor that never quits. Ty has that and he'll show that once he hits the field, but it probably won't be this year. With the deepest RE unit in years, playing time at this position is going to be hard to come by if your last name isn't Thomas, Moore, Carriker or Muhammad.

Adam Blankenship - From the powerhouse Union high school team, this son of the Union head coach brings to the table a lot of what you might expect from the son of a head coach. Adam is very smart, knows his angles and is very aggressive to the ball. Not what I would classify as your typical "edge-rusher", Blankenship still possesses some very nice burst off the line. Like Steinkuhler though, Adam will probably sit his first year, watching coach John Blake and how he manages this ultra-deep unit they currently have. It will be good though as both Ty and Adam can do nothing but benefit from watching just how it should be done.


Michael Keenan - One of the bigger questions about Keenan isn't as to when he'll play, but where. Keenan is a solid athlete in about every respect, possessing both size and speed. Point of fact, Keenan just barely missed the 2,000 yard mark in rushing and standing over 6'2" and weighing over 220 pounds, the realm of fullback might not be totally out of the question. If it weren't for the depth at running back, Keenan might even get a hard look there, but there's quite a few places that Keenan can fit and quite well. The linebacking core, while pretty solid at starter isn't heavy on depth. With Keenan's speed, he could feasibly slot behind any one of the starters and contribute to a certain degree. I do see Keenan getting some time this year however it works out though and wherever they decide to put him. One way or another, Michael should see the field.

Lance Brandenburgh - If it's tackles you want, you came to the right person. "Ballhawk" doesn't even begin to describe this young man, Lance amassing over 300 total tackles in his final two seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park, Kansas. Part of the reason is just the simple fact that he's smart and knows how to read plays at the line. Another is, is that he pursues extremely well to the ball, can fight off blocks very well and has better than average speed. Speed could be the issue though in that while Lance is a runner, does he possess the sheer blazing type of wheels that would almost assure him a shot to play his first year? I'm not sure that he does, but Lance isn't far off and in a year's time he should be more than up to speed.


Santino Panico - The Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year brings his ability and tenacity to the table. I include tenacity because when you watch Panico on film that's exactly what you see. He's that type of player that just refuses to give up on a play and has some pretty solid athleticism to motor him along. Projecting him at safety, that tenaciousness becomes aggression and this Chicago boy isn't going to disappoint in that arena either. Panico will be a solid contributor at one point during his career at NU. It's not this year though. With the Bullock twins firmly cemented as not just starters but stars, while there will be players getting some time, this probably isn't the time where Nebraska will try breaking a lot of people in. Then again, it's perhaps the best time, but I figure Santino is going to have at least a year to wait.


Cortney Grixby - He's getting on the field. I could stop right there and I would be happy with that, but like other players, the question isn't about "if" it's "when" and yes, even "where". While Grixby is smallish in size, his ability is monumental and this kid's got all the athleticism you need and more. At DB, WR and on special teams, Grixby is a young man that can give your team a boost in just about every facet of his game. He's the kind that you don't just think about getting on the field, you design a way to get him out there. He's a playmaker and every team needs plenty of those. There may be depth at a lot of positions, but the question won't be about depth ,it will be about what type of depth. Grixby's type is just what Nebraska needs. Heck, it's what anyone needs and just one of the reasons he was ranked as one of The Insiders' top 5 DBs in the country.

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