The Newcomers: Who will play?

There are lots of new faces to the team, which have only just arrived, save for the January enrollees such as defensive tackles Chase Rome and Jay Guy as well as junior college transfer, offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick. So, who will play?

Well, let's break it down as far as the new scholarship players who have yet to take a snap in an actual game, and predict who by the time the WKU is over, will have gotten their FBS shoes wet for the first time.

Jermarcus Hardrick – He's the biggest no brainer of the lot as you don't bring in a junior college guy to sit. But with his size and the personnel situation at left tackle, there was probably no way in Hades, outside of an injury, that he wouldn't see the field in year one. Now does he start? That's a better question, because redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles has pushed him since the Spring. And whether it was his broken hand toward the end of Spring, the complications with cramps over the Fall or just being out a day because he was sick, every day he wasn't there was another day Sirles could establish himself. With that said I think Hardrick will still start, but he's no doubt going to play. I just don't see how he doesn't.

Lavonte David – Another junior college transfer, I have to admit that with him not making it in Spring, I wasn't all that sure he would play early on. But back to Hardrick, you bring in junior college players to play, not sit. And it seems he's made a real push in understanding the defense, but more than that, he's apparently a very instinctive football player, which in this system, can be half the battle. Add that to the loss of sophomore starting linebacker Sean Fisher, the door is wide open for someone to take that spot. I don't know if he'll start game on, but there has been nothing out there indicating that he won't see the field against Western Kentucky.

Chase Rome – A true freshman with the advantage of having arrived in Spring, Rome has garnered praise not just from his position coaches, but Pelini himself. He has said he's "in the mix", which by Pelini's standards for understatement, could almost mean his appearance is inevitable. Defensive Coordinator Carl Pelini has said that he's looking for a healthy rotation along the defensive line, especially along that interior. Rome could figure into that mix, depending on what happens at the other defensive tackle spot which features sophomore Baker Steinkuhler and junior Terrence Moore as the primary contributors. Rome has size and more importantly, the motor. And perhaps to even throw another factor in this, redshirt freshman Thaddeus Randle has missed at least two of the more recent practices this Fall due to an injury or condition of some sort. Against an opponent like Western Kentucky, where you have perhaps as much of a chance to evaluate as you do to get projected starters serious reps, Rome could fit in nicely and do well.

Quincy Enunwa – Again, this goes back to how much coaches seem to want to make sure that nobody thinks anyone has the advantage. You can't do anything about players like Niles Paul. He's so obvious that they simply go with it, because it would be ridiculous to try and pretend there's actually an open competition for the top spot where he lines up. But when it comes to almost everyone else, it's an alleged wide open competition. So, when a player like freshman receiver Enunwa gets mentioned as a candidate to play early by both his position coach and the head coach, you have to think it's just a matter of time until we see him this year.

And once again, let's get back to the opponent, and realize that if you are wanting to get guys reps in a situation that is as close to controllable as you can get, hello Western Kentucky. I know there are some who think that you should just get your starters reps, because going a full game together will give them some continuity. Yeah, that's great, but on a personal level, I would want to see what I have in a situation where I know their potential mistakes won't kill the team, because the opponent is that good. Do it when you are going against a team which will offer some resistance, but not too much. I think that means Enunwa plays in game one.

There are a host of other names which have drawn some interest as far as people considering them as serious contenders to play their first year. There is another junior transfer in receiver Stanley Jean-Baptiste. But he's an unusual JC transfer, because he actually has four years of eligibility. He's going to be going into this season as a redshirt freshman. So, there shouldn't be this need to get him on the field even if he isn't necessarily ready.

Another name floating around as possible is freshman lineman Andrew Rodriguez. It's true that he'll be at worst, third team at left guard. But I think that in order for any offensive lineman to play as a true freshman, either they better be freakishly good or the position will have to be freakishly thin. For right now I'd say he's still going to be a redshirt this season.

All in all, I think most of the class of 2010 redshirts, outside of those listed above. The Huskers have uncommon depth at most positions, when you consider just how shallow they were across the board just two years ago. It doesn't mean these newcomers won't play, but I've always believed that if you have a redshirt available to you, use it and come back next year even better.

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