BigRedReport.com is going to take a position-by-position look of what we learned about the Huskers from spring practices heading into the bulk of the offseason.
Senior Corey Cooper spent the spring on the sidelines nursing turf toe, but returns as a potential player who could earn first-team all-conference honors next season. In his absence, the bulk of the reps went to sophomore Nathan Gerry, who was transitioning back to his high school position after spending time at the BUCK linebacker spot in 2013. Gerry looked more comfortable at safety and proved the Huskers will have a more than capable replacement when Cooper leaves down the road. It's likely Gerry will still factor in and get key reps in 2014.
"I feel a lot more comfortable back there. Linebacker is too close for me, it's up there on the ball and bang-bang," said a smiling Gerry this spring. "With those big guys, it was tough. Now I get a little more depth and get to see things develop, so I can come downhill and make a play."
LeRoy Alexander (Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Alongside Cooper on the back-end will be redshirt sophomore LeRoy Alexander, who continued to build off his 13 appearances from last season. If the Huskers make a big jump on defense this season, Alexander will likely be a big reason why. The Ohio native was faster this spring as he settles into his third-year in the Nebraska defensive scheme.
With the top three pretty set, a group of talented younger classmen battled it out to be the next in line this fall. The list included redshirt freshman D.J. Singleton and redshirt freshman Drake Martinez, who did miss time due to his tonsils. Both will likely be big contributors special teams in the fall.
Joining the mix this summer will be two contributors: Luke Gifford (3-star) and Josh Kalu (3-star). Kalu has been slotted to practice the nickel position, but ultimately we feel grades out as a safety down the road. Gifford is a hard-hitting local prospect that will need a redshirt year, but reminds us of former safety Austin Cassidy – high football IQ and loves to hit.
PROJECTED BRR FALL DEPTH CHART
1st team: Corey Cooper – senior and LeRoy Alexander – redshirt sophomore
2nd team: Nathan Gerry – sophomore and D.J. Singleton – redshirt freshman