OSI Nebraska football position preview: Defensive Backs

Posted at 4:39 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 17:39:49-04

One of the biggest storylines this offseason has been what Nebraska will do with its defensive backs after the injury to starting cornerback Chris Jones. Prior to Jones' injury, the Huskers had moved Joshua Kalu from corner to safety, but many wonder whether that switch will be permanent.

One thing is certain: the coaching staff loves what Kalu brings to the safety position.

"We haven't even wanted to have that conversation (about Kalu moving back to cornerback) yet," Nebraska Head Coach Mike Riley said. "We have some versatility with him and that's a real bonus for us right now. But we like the looks of him at our safety position."

Should Kalu stay at safety, the Huskers top three options at cornerback are (in no order) sophomore Eric Lee, redshirt freshman DiCaprio Bootle, and sophomore Lamar Jackson. 

Jackson played in each of Nebraska's 13 games last year as the third cornerback behind Jones and Kalu, but has no starting experience outside of the Huskers' Music City Bowl appearance.

Most of Lee's playing experience comes from his time on special teams, and Bootle redshirted his 2016 season. While the defensive back unit might not have as much experience as other position groups, Riley seems confident in what the Blackshirts are working with.

"They're all young and their experience isn't big, but they are talented and they are smart," Riley said. "What we'll just be looking for immediately is being sound, just being real smart. I think that's going to be the way that they give everybody the trust that everybody needs for them to play."

The safety spot opposite of Kalu will be occupied by Aaron Williams. Williams played in all 13 games last season, 11 of them as a starter. The junior safety is easily the most seasoned veteran of the secondary, as he racked up 62 tackles and three interceptions in 2016.

As far as the nickel position is concerned, Riley said his staff is still working through that as they go. He also brought up a memory of when he was coaching in the CFL where he didn't necessarily have enough depth to play the nickel set, so the team stuck with base coverage.

Riley said that's not what the Huskers plan to do, but the fact that he mentioned it makes you wonder whether or not it's a possibility here at Nebraska.

Look for sophomores Avery Anderson and Jeremiah Stovall to mix in with the cornerbacks as well. 

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Twitter: @TylerMartinOSI