The Tale of the Tape: Our Spring MVPs

The Spring Game has come and gone. What does it all mean? Well, it's hard to say, but we got a glimpse of a lot of players, some we have seen, but many who we are just getting to really know. Well, here are some picks from some of our staff members on who we thought stood out and who might shine down the road.

Chris Emma - Big Red Report Writer

Offensive MVP: Zac Lee

It was hard not to be impressed by Quarterback Zac Lee.  With his Red Team down 10-0, Lee guided his team to two touchdowns in the span of 26 seconds, giving his team a lead they would never look back from.  Lee finished the day going 15-18 for 214 yards and three touchdown passes.  "We had success as a unit with the red offense, and I feel like I did pretty well out there today." said Zac Lee.  Lee enters the season as the projected starter at Quarterback, and will undoubtedly make an impact for the offense. 

Steve Ryan -
Big Red Report Publisher

Offensive MVP: Zac Lee

It wasn't a quick start for the junior quarterback, but he finished nicely. After the Red Team fell down 10-0, Lee and company stormed back to score 31 unanswered points as his team ran off with the win, the White team adding a late touchdown to make the final, 31-17. One of Lee's particularly good passes was a touchdown to sophomore Marcus Mendoza, where Lee had to lay the ball in just over the outstretched fingers of RS freshman linebacker Will Compton, but not too high so that Mendoza couldn't bring it in, which he did, twisting his body so that he fell over the goal line. We didn't get to see a lot of deep balls from Lee, but we know he has the arm for that. What I particularly liked about him in this game was that he was patient, and he didn't try to press the ball into too many inadvisable locations. He's obviously the starter come Fall. The question now is, who's the back up?

Shane Gilster -
Big Red Report Executive of Sales and Marketing

Offensive MVP : Zac Lee: 

I was very impressed with his calmness and smooth direction of the Husker offense.  He was 15-18 for 214 yards and three touchdowns.  Doesn't try to do too much and makes some really nice throws like the ones he made on his touchdown passes.  The quarterbacks didn't run much as they wore the green jerseys for protection so you really didn't get to see what he could do running the ball.  Lee is the clear-cut number one at quarterback going into the fall and in my opinion will be the starter against Florida Atlantic.

Chris Emma

Defensive MVP: Ndamukong Suh

It's never a surprise when Suh makes a play.  The senior DT impressed once again today, finishing the game with four tackles, including three solo tackles, two tackles for a loss, and one sack.  Suh is a player who brings heavy pressure each play, and gives offensive lines a tough battle.  However, Coach Barney Cotton appreciates having his offensive line challenged by one of the best.  "Big Suh give our guys up front an opportunity to go

Suh makes a tackle on junior running back Quentin Castille
against the best every day in practice.  Suh is a good practice player and he's a good effort guy."  Don't expect a let up anytime soon, Suh was recently named to the Lott Trophy Watch List as one of the nation's top defensive performers.  Expect another big year out of Ndamukong Suh.

Steve Ryan

Defensive MVP: Will Compton

When you have the kind of athleticism the redshirt freshman linebacker has, people expect you to be more smart than you are freakish. Compton doesn't have blazing speed, knock-you-back explosiveness. But he understands the game. Former Husker and NFL stud linebacker Barrett Ruud broke records galore at Nebraska, because he understood the game. He was just one heck of a football player. Now, it's way too early to tell if Compton has those kinds of instincts, and we'd never put the pressure on him to try and come even close to the level Ruud attained while at Nebraska. But he understands the game, and while his game-high seven tackles says he's got a nose for the ball, I think he just has good instincts for the sport itself.

Shane Gilster

Defensive MVP: Ndamukong Suh: 

Ask Ricky Henry about blocking Suh.  Suh didn't have anything to prove to us but had a fine game with a sack and two tackles for losses.  He looks leaner and quicker than last year.  Which means he is going to be a monster along the defensive line for the Huskers.  He could even line-up at defensive end and be great.  If this kid doesn't make first-team All-Big 12 and land on the first or second All-American team this fall, I am going to be disappointed.

Chris Emma

Offensive Player to Watch: Collins Okafor

With talented names like Helu and Castille at RB, it's easy to ignore the rest of the batch.  However, one guy to watch out for this season will be Redshirt Freshman Collins Okafor.  Okafor has shown his skills all spring, and finished his spring with 79 yards on 11 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.  Okafor will surely see carries this season, and is a threat for a big run whenever he touches the ball. 

Steve Ryan

Offensive Player to Watch: Antonio Bell

Whether it was in the return game or as a wide receiver, you saw today just a glimpse of what this young man brings to the table. In the return game, he combines legit burner-speed with absolutely no fear about bringing the ball out from deep within the end zone. On the offensive side he's got a great burst off the line, uses his hands fairly well, but the real highlights come when the ball is anywhere close to him, as he illustrated today.
Bell makes a circus catch over redshirt freshman corner Jase Dean
Junior quarterback Latravis Washington tossed up a deep floater, that had the cornerback been looking it could have been an easy pick. It was behind Bell, but after spotting it, he came back underneath the corner then jumped up and made a stellar grab at the highest point of his leap. He got the wind knocked out of him for his trouble, but you don't often see burners who go 6-2, who are also as tenacious going after the ball as they are fast when they have it. This kid is going to be fun to watch.

Chris Emma

Defensive Player to Watch: Alfonzo Dennard

There is undoubtedly a lot of depth at the cornerback position, and quite a bit of talent returning from last season.  But one player who shouldn't get lost in the mix is sophomore Alfonzo Dennard.  Dennard shined during the spring game with five tackles, including two solo tackles, and also broke up two passes.  After a very good spring, Dennard still finds himself in a battle for playing time with guys like Anthony West, Prince Amukamara, and Anthony Blue among others.  Dennard has a bright future at Nebraska, and is one of the most talented athletes on the team.  It will be tough for Dennard to win over playing time, but when he sees the field, expect to see many good things.

Steve Ryan

Defensive Player to Watch: Courtney Osborne

I remember his high school highlight, and the first play was one where Osborne, a redshirt freshman at Nebraska, read the quarterback who was running to his left, and off the right of the screen flashed Osborne, tackling the signal-caller for a seven-yard loss. Osborne didn't get into the backfield today, but from the point Osborne recognizes a play to the point where he arrives at the ball-carrier, that's not a long of time elapsing. He simply has solid instincts for the ball, and when he gets it in his head he's taking someone off their cleats, that's exactly what he does. An athletic player, he's a ferocious hitter and someone people will just enjoy watching play. He's a gamer, and he's got all the skills to boot.

Shane Gilster -
Big Red Report Executive of Marketing and Sales

Newcomer Impact
: Latravis Washington:  His stat-line looks great: 13 of 21 for 190 yards and two touchdowns.  For Washington, the Spring Game highlighted his arm strength and ability to throw the ball very well at times.  The converted linebacker and former high school quarterback looked brilliant on a second quarter drive, guiding the white offense on a 67-yard, 7 play drive, that ended with a Washington to Chris Brooks touchdown pass.  But Washington still has a ways to go as his arm strength got the better of him on some throws and he wasn't as consistent as Lee was behind center.  Nevertheless, Washington should go into fall camp as the No. 2 quarterback. Antonio Bell:  This kid is going to help the return game and make some plays as a receiver.  He only had two catches for 38 yards for the White team but one was a leaping acrobatic 27-yard catch.  He looks to be one of the main returners going into fall camp as he returned 5 kickoffs for 107 yards (21.4 average) in the Spring Game.  Freshman Linebackers (Will Compton, Alonzo Whaley): I was impressed with these two guys. Whaley was all over the field and Compton led all tacklers in the Spring Game with 7.

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