With fall camp less than 24 hours away, the competition is on at many different positions for the Huskers. Head coach Mike Riley thinks that the battle for snaps will make each position better.
"(We need to) let them practice and see where they are, and what they do, and how consistent they can be," Riley said. "I think the competition will raise the level of this team that way."
Not every position will have a battle for starting jobs, but the position groups to watch during fall camp will be the linebackers, running backs, wide receivers and offensive and defensive lines.
A season ago, the Huskers had depth issues at the linebacker position. With some more experience under their belt, the linebackers should emerge as one of the deeper positions for Nebraska and could make for some interesting position battles.
Senior Josh Banderas will likely start at inside linebacker, but Riley mentioned that he thought junior Chris Weber could fight him for that position this season.
Dedrick Young, Michael Rose-Ivey and Marcus Newby will fight for starting position at outside linebacker. Riley said with the offseason that sophomore Luke Gifford has had, he could factor into that position as well.
The three-headed monster in the backfield for the Huskers will include Terrell Newby, Devine Ozigbo, and Mikale Wilbon.
The question that has yet to be answered at the running back position is whether there will be "the guy" at running back, or if it will be a "committee" position. That's a question even Mike Riley can not answer just yet.
"Does somebody win that job convincingly to where he's going to be a guy that plays more plays than the other guy, or do we get into a deal where we play them situationally, or we play them evenly," Riley said. "We don't have to make that decision today, and I think it's fair to them to not make that decision today."
The wide receiver group is without question the strongest position group for Nebraska. With that being said, there are a lot of different options for Nebraska at this position moving forward.
"Guys that surfaced during the season last year that didn't have much production prior to that are all of a sudden viable, real guys and there's more than three of them," Riley said. "The starting competition is alive and well at that position too."
Brandon Rielly, Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore and De'Mornay Pierson-El will all return as viable weapons for the Huskers this year, which should make things easier on Tommy Armstrong.
The Huskers lost former starters Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins to the NFL Draft. Former starter Greg McMullen decided not to come back for his senior season, and back-up Kevin Williams transferred to conference foe Michigan State.
With that many holes to fill, less-experienced players will need to step up and fill those shoes. Nebraska will look to senior Kevin Maurice will be the veteran anchoring the defensive line. Redshirt freshmen Carlos and Khalil Davis have a lot of hype surrounding their potential to become playmakers for the Huskers as well.
Mike Riley also mentioned Gretna native Mick Stoltenberg as an exciting prospect at the defensive line position. Stoltenberg suffered a knee injury prior to the Foster Farms Bowl, but is cleared to start fall camp.
Senior Logan Rath and sophomore Peyton Newell are guys that Riley said have shown that they could earn some playing time at defensive line as well.
"We will need more growth. We'll need that right in camp, we'll need that right into the season," Riley said. "They'll need to play hard and smart, so that's our big chore as we go through fall camp"
The Huskers begin fall camp Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
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