Movers and Shakers of Fall

Nebraska is only a week into Fall camp, but when you are this close to the season things better start to happen quickly as a revamped team has to find itself quickly, so it has a chance to come out of the gate quickly for the 2008 campaign. Well, some players are following that lead and we look at a few of the movers and shakers from week one of the Fall session.

Whether it's building off the momentum from Spring or simply finding their stride in the Fall, some players on both sides of the ball have really started to emerge. For the team itself it's good, because there are certain areas with big questions and these players could be the answers for the 2008 season.

WR – Menelik Holt

Replacing Maurice Purify is a lot more than simply throwing one big body in for the one which departed. You have to be able to not just run your routes, but prove to be a playmaker when a play really needs to be made.

That was Purify's rep, because while he wasn't the starter at any one point, he made as much impact on games as any starter for the Huskers in years.

Holt has slowly progressed his physical make up to get closer to the Purify mold. But over the course of the first week in Fall camp he's reportedly taking his game up another level. Wide Receivers Coach Ted Gilmore offered the obligatory comment that each receiver has a long ways to go, but admitted that Holt has had a strong camp thus far. "Today he probably had his best practice since he's been here," Gilmore said on Tuesday. "He made plays with guys hanging on him and around him. He made plays when he was supposed to and even when the play wasn't there, he somehow came up with the ball. If he can continue to build upon that, we got something,"

If there is an honorable mention for wide receivers it's sophomore Niles Paul who Gilmore said has progressed in his consistency and has had a solid camp thus far.

Paul could be significant as could a host of newcomers as they try to fill the void not left only by Maurice Purify, but the after-the-catch-types which Nebraska lost with the graduation of Terrence Nunn and Frantz Hardy.

DT – Jared Crick

It's ironic that the Nebraska-native moved inside from the defensive end spot, if only to add a little depth. The player he's figuring on competing with for time (Ty Steinkuhler) did almost the exact same thing two seasons ago. However, with Steinkuhler's durability a slight question mark going into the season stemming from him sitting out the last three days as he nurses a chronic back issue, the back up roles become that much more important.

Crick actually had to gain a little weight moving inside, putting on about 10 pounds of muscle. He's still by no means an Ola Dagunduro type, where he simply looks like a guy who could plug holes. But Crick is moving the way of becoming a more versatile lineman, and according to the Defensive Line Coach, yesterday was a solid day for Crick as he got to roll with the ones. "I am excited as heck about Jared Crick. He earned his way up with the ones, and he had another good day today," Pelini said. "Jared has had a great week of practice."

Crick is one piece, but the battle goes on at that DT-spot as redshirt freshman Terrance Moore competes for time, gaining approximately 10 to 15 pounds himself over the off-season, as well as true freshman Baker Steinkuhler.

RB – Quentin Castille

Quentin Castille

It wasn't that he couldn't run. We all saw the flashes where the sophomore running back could accelerate at a pace which defied his impressive size and he could move laterally with the adeptness you would expect of a much smaller back. Then there was, of course, the way the Texas native could steamroll just about anything and everything in his way once he got turned upfield.

That wasn't the question. The question was whether or not once that contact was made or those cuts were executed, if he still had the ball.

Stricken with fumbilitis, this potent back was relegated to sitting on the bench in situations where he probably would have helped the team. For new Running Backs Coach Tim Beck, he reminded Castille that, that was just where he'd be if he didn't get a handle on losing the handle of the ball. "I told him the quickest way to standing beside me was not holding onto the ball. But it's something that you have to remind them of, but not press, because he'll start pressing and that could make this issue get even worse," he said.

Through the first week of Fall camp Castille has impressed Beck, both with his ability to run, which is now even more improved with Castille dropping some of that extra weight, and, of course, his ability to hold onto the ball. Truthfully, that's about the only question mark surrounding Castille as his ability to run and destroy defenders is obvious. If he can become reliable with the football, the battle for number one could be more than a Helu vs Lucky affair. "Everyone keeps talking about those two and nobody is talking about "Q". I'd say that's a mistake," Beck said. "He has had a good camp so far, so don't forget about him. The kid has a lot of potential."

DB – Prince Amukamara

Amukamara proved during the course of Spring that the finesse he was so well known for in high school as a return man and offensive player, could be replaced by a very physical player, who had as much tenaciousness to hit someone as he did gracefulness when he had the ball.

Since the Spring Amukamara has found himself listed as a back up at either corner spot along with the starter in nickel situations. Sanders said of the talented sophomore that like everyone else he has a long ways to go, but he's on his way. "He shows a lot of promise. I'm happy with how he is improving, but he's still got so far to go," Sanders said. "All of these kids have an understanding of concepts and how we want them to always be moving toward the ball. But we're a ways from really seeing what these kids can do. I am excited about Prince and what he brings to the table, but that's something he and the rest of these guys need to

Will Compton

realize as they learn a lot more about what we want them to do."

LB – Will Compton

There's no shortage of bodies at the linebacker spots, but there is a vast shortage of experience. So much so that freshmen like Will Compton might not just be asked to contribute, but demanded as they could need him over the long haul of a season.

Junior Phillip Dillard is the obvious starter, but as we have seen over the last few years with this particular group being decimated by injuries, you are only one hit away from being experience to being full of fresh faces. Compton has managed to engross himself into the system as they are asked to, which Dillard says has him progressing nicely, and it only helps that Compton is just as eager to listen as he is to get out there and show what he can do. "He's progressing really well. He takes constructive criticism really well," Dillard said.

Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler isn't ready to say that anyone has really mastered anything, because in his mind nobody is even close. But he said that Compton is on his way. "He's a really sharp guy, and he's eager to learn," he said. "That's good, because all these guys have a long-long ways to go.

"But Will is doing good so far."

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