World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon breaks down the Husker offense position-by-position.
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Big Ten rank: 2
Latest word: Taylor Martinez enters his senior year as a record-setting captain who has burned nearly every Big Ten defense either with his legs or his arm. Given more freedom by offensive coordinator Tim Beck to run the offense, Martinez showed last season he was adept at diagnosing the defense and switching into the right plays at the line of scrimmage. Martinez's final task to tackle: limiting his turnovers, especially fumbles brought on by poor ball security in the pocket. With all the hits he takes, Martinez hasn't missed a start in two years. Still, he needs a backup.
Who can help: Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong spent his first year impressing coaches in practice. He flashed a good arm and shifty running skills in the spring. True freshman Johnny Stanton appears recovered from a torn ACL suffered last fall. On film, he's a bigger, stronger runner than Armstrong, but his passing motion may need to be tweaked. Senior Ron Kellogg knows the offense as well as any Husker, but is best suited as a game manager, not a zone read expert.
Taylor Martinez, No. 3, Sr., 6-1, 210: NU's career leader in total offense, passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns.
Tommy Armstrong, No. 4, RFr., 6-1, 220: He's earned an early rep for being a vocal leader among underclassmen.
Johnny Stanton, No. 5, Fr., 6-2, 220: Selected as an Elite 11 QB last summer, wowing ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer with his knowledge of the offense.
Tyson Broekemeier, No. 9, So., 6-1, 190: Aurora walk-on has work to do to move on the depth chart.
Ron Kellogg, No. 12, Sr., 6-1, 220: Omaha Westside graduate threw his first career touchdown last season.
Evan Williams, No. 16, RFr., 5-11, 175: Son of former Husker tight end and current NU administrator Jamie Williams.
Ryker Fyfe, No. 17, RFr., 6-2, 190: Grand Island walk-on was NU's primary scout team quarterback in 2012. May have the most accurate arm.
Big Ten rank: 2
Latest word: Ameer Abdullah is ready for his close-up. After two years of toiling as Rex Burkhead's top backup, Abdullah has built on his game, bulked up his frame and polished his pass-blocking skill. Has he worked on a fumbling tendency? It's the only weakness in Abdullah's game. His backups are gifted, if relatively untested. At fullback, a battle between two local kids — C.J. Zimmerer and Andy Janovich — should continue through the season. Both are suitably tough.
Who can help: NU doesn't lack for options. Sophomore Imani Cross is the short-yardage specialist, while true freshmen Adam Taylor and Terrell Newby bring plenty of flash to the table. But don't count out King Frazier, a walk-on who played well in the spring game. Frazier is a low-to-the-ground, shifty runner with decent size.
Ameer Abdullah, No. 8, Jr., 5-9, 190: Has 2,915 career all-purpose yards, including rushing and receiving yards and returns.
King Frazier, No. 23 RFr., 6-0, 220: Turned down a scholarship offer to Indiana to walk on at Nebraska.
Murat Kuzu, No. 24, So., 5-11, 200: Hails from the same high school as former Husker Rex Burkhead.
Adam Taylor, No. 28, Fr., 6-2, 200: The Katy, Texas, star rebounded from a knee injury with 2,754 yards and 45 touchdowns as a senior.
Graham Nabity, No. 29, RFr., 6-0, 210: Elkhorn walk-on ran for 33 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
C.J. Zimmerer, No. 31, Sr., 6-0, 230: Omaha Gross graduate became NU's most dependable blocking back by the end of last season.
Imani Cross, No. 32, So., 6-1, 225: Ran for 324 yards and seven touchdowns as NU's short-yardage specialist in 2012.
Terrell Newby, No. 34, Fr., 5-10, 180: Four-star recruit from Los Angeles who ran for 2,305 yards and 45 touchdowns last year.
Andy Janovich, No. 35, So., 6-1, 225: Former Gretna star played in the final 11 games, becoming the first true freshman walk-on to start since 2008.
Harrison Jordan, No. 38, Fr., 5-10, 230: True freshman who starred at linebacker at Omaha Westside.
Jordan Nelson, No. 39, RFr., 5-7, 180: Omaha Burke walk-on can also work out of the slot if needed.
Mitch McCann, No. 44, RFr., 6-0, 220: Omaha Burke walk-on moved to offense after spending 2012 at linebacker and the spring at defensive end.
Big Ten rank: 1
The latest word: NU has its best, most-experienced receiving trio, since, well, ever. Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner combined for 124 catches, 1,750 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, and they seem poised to push that yardage total over 2,000 with the departure of experienced tight ends. NU may never be a pass-first program, but if it were, the receivers could handle the heat.
Who can help: Position coach Rich Fisher made an emphasis of building depth in the spring behind his top group, and redshirt freshmen Alonzo Moore and Jordan Westerkamp seem well-suited to inherit the legacy that the top trio will eventually leave them. If Taariq Allen is fully recovered from a torn ACL, put him in the bunch, too.
Jordan Westerkamp, No. 1, RFr., 6-0, 200: Sure-handed talent sat out first year, but should back up Jamal Turner in the slot.
Alonzo Moore, No. 2, RFr., 6-2, 185: Explosive, quick-footed athlete will push for playing time. Caught two passes for 59 yards in the spring game.
Taariq Allen, No. 7, So., 6-3, 195: Of his two catches last year, one was for a key touchdown at Northwestern.
Jamal Turner, No. 10, Jr., 6-1, 185: Had a whole new confidence after catching his first touchdown pass at Michigan State. Poised for big season.
Sam Burtch, No. 13, So., 6-3, 195: Elmwood-Murdock walk-on impressed coaches in the spring with his route running.
Quincy Enunwa, No. 18, Sr., 6-2, 225: One of the best perimeter blockers in Husker history. Captain.
Alex Balke, No. 21, Fr., 6-2, 190: Walk-on from Iowa City caught 51 passes for 845 yards as a high school senior.
Richard Wynne, No. 30, So., 5-9, 180: Creighton Prep walk-on moved from running back to here.
Christian Bailey, No. 33, Fr., 5-11, 195: Followed high school teammate Johnny Stanton to NU. Made the 105-man roster as a freshman walk-on.
Lane Hovey, No. 45, RFr., 6-4, 205: The Adel, Iowa, walk-on is the tallest wide receiver on the roster.
Kenny Bell, No. 80, Jr., 6-1, 185: The first-team All-Big Ten performer has 1,324 career receiving yards and 11 career touchdowns.
Kevin Gladney, No. 81, Fr., 6-1, 185: Deep threat recruit who averaged 18.6 yards per catch during the final two years of high school.
Tyler Wullenwaber, No. 82, Jr., 6-1, 195: Utica walk-on is one of the fastest Huskers and reputedly recovered from a severe knee injury.
Brandon Reilly, No. 87, RFr., 6-1, 180: Lincoln Southwest walk-on had good first year on scout team. Might be a factor on special teams.
Tyler Evans, No 88, Jr., 6-1, 195: After two catches last year, the Waverly product needs to make a move.
Big Ten rank: 8
The latest word: Competition abounds as Nebraska must replace four-year contributors Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed while expected starter Jake Long missed much of the preseason with an injury. There is talent here — especially in the form of two 2013 recruits — but until these guys play in a game, it's hard to gauge just how consistent they'll be.
Who can help: Anybody's who's willing. It might well be an open-casting call. Nebraska likes to use two and sometimes three tight ends, so walk-ons, freshmen, anyone has a shot in this environment. At first blush, redshirt freshman Sam Cotton looks like an option, as does big sophomore David Sutton. Freshmen Greg Hart and Cethan Carter are in the mix, too.
Cethan Carter, No. 11, Fr., 6-4, 230: Sleeper recruit whom LSU tried to nab away from NU late. Can swing among H-back, fullback and tight end.
Max Pirman, No. 40, So., 6-5, 230:Trying out tight end after two years at linebacker. Pirman needs to make a move.
Jake Long, No. 41, Sr., 6-4, 240: Brother of Spencer Long who's favored to win the starting tight end job. Seven career receptions.
Trey Foster, No. 42, RFr., 6-0, 240: Squat and strong, the Lincoln Southeast graduate looks like a good blocker and decent receiver.
Erik Evans, No. 49, Fr., 6-3, 220: Younger brother of receiver Tyler Evans played four positions in high school.
Jared Blum, No. 83, RFr., 6-4, 240: Gretna walk-on was making progress before season-ending knee injury. Bright future ahead.
Sam Cotton, No. 84, RFr., 6-4, 235: Youngest son of coach Barney Cotton is quick off the ball and has good hands. Could push to start.
Greg Hart, No. 85, Fr., 6-5, 225: Three-star recruit who's tall and fast enough to play slot receiver in a pinch. Good downfield speed.
Connor Ketter, No. 89, Fr., 6-5, 220: Norfolk Catholic all-stater will move to tight end full time after starring on defense.
Big Ten rank: 2
The latest word: One of the most-scrutinized position groups at Nebraska has matured into a seasoned, physical run-blocking unit that fought and won its share of battles in the rugged Big Ten. The pass blocking, by everyone's account, could get better, but with the potential of four seniors starting and several more upperclassmen as reserves, NU appears closer than it's been in years to the Pipeline-style unit that dominated for decades. Primary coach John Garrison has an energy and communication style the players embrace, and senior Spencer Long is the best Husker lineman in years.
Who can help: NU will likely not ask much from its youngest linemen, but there does appear to be room for junior-college transfers Matt Finnin and Chongo Kondolo to jump in and help. Another name to watch is redshirt freshman Paul Thurston, who's nominally Nebraska center of the future. If he's good enough to win the job now, or split time, it'd be a boon for NU's depth.
Landon Kubicek, No. 50, Fr., 6-4, 290: Walk-on from Lincoln Southeast joined the roster when school started.
Brandon Chapek, No. 51, Sr., 6-5, 305: Wahoo Neumann walk-on has been solid on scout team and as a backup.
Dustin Glaser, No. 52, Fr., 6-3, 285: Son of former Husker All-America tackle Doug Glaser.
Adam Kucera, No. 53, So., 6-6, 315: Litchfield walk-on appeared at guard in the win over Idaho State.
Robby Painter, No. 54, RFr., 6-4, 275: Walk-on tackle has gained 25 pounds since his arrival in Lincoln.
Paul Thurston, No. 55, RFr., 6-5, 280: After years of small centers, here's one who measures up. A year away, most likely.
Mark Pelini, No. 56, Jr., 6-0, 295: Nephew of Bo Pelini played in seven games last year at center. Likely backup at that spot this year.
Zach Sterup, No. 57, So., 6-8, 315: Hastings St. Cecilia grad will back up at tackle. His year is 2014.
Corey Whitaker, No. 58, RFr., 6-4, 275: Looking to rebound from knee surgery in an effort to back up — for now — at guard.
Matt Finnin, No. 59, Jr., 6-7, 305: Four-star junior-college recruit picked NU over Ohio State and Oklahoma.
Spencer Long, No. 61, Sr., 6-4, 315: NU's best All-America offensive lineman candidate in a decade. Aspiring doctor.
Cole Pensick, No. 62, Sr., 6-2, 275: Lincoln Northeast grad started two games last year at center and remains the front-runner to start there this year.
Andrew Rodriguez, No. 63, Sr., 6-6, 330: Smart, athletic tackle in search of more consistency in his final year. Has all of the tools.
Ryne Reeves, No. 65, So., 6-3, 295: Injuries have slowed the Crete product at guard. Could be No. 2 behind Spencer Long.
Dylan Utter, No. 66, RFr., 6-1, 275: Papillion-La Vista walk-on redshirted last year. He'll play inside at guard.
Scott Criss, No. 67, Sr., 6-3, 275: Creighton Prep walk-on appeared at center against Idaho State last year.
Jake Cotton, No. 68, Jr., 6-6, 305: Middle son of coach Barney Cotton has rep as one of NU's toughest linemen.
Chongo Kondolo, No. 70, Jr., 6-4, 290: Wide, strong junior-college recruit expected to compete immediately at guard for playing time.
Jeremiah Sirles, No. 71, Sr., 6-6, 310: A 28-game starter who will swing between right and left tackle. Versatile.
Zach Hannon, No. 72, Fr., 6-5, 295: Athletic guard recruit out of Kansas City. Appears to weigh more than listed.
Sam Hahn, No. 73, RFr., 6-6, 295: Tri County grad and North Dakota State transfer will battle at tackle for years to come.
Mike Moudy, No. 74, Jr., 6-5, 300: Former four-star recruit remains a backup guard. He needs to make a move this fall.
Chris Long, No. 75, So., 6-4, 280: Blair walk-on is backup interior lineman.
Brent Qvale, No. 76, Sr., 6-7, 315: Started 13 games last year at left tackle. Finally free of injury problems, he's in the best shape of his career.
David Knevel, No. 77, Fr., 6-9, 300: Top Canadian recruit picked NU over Alabama and Wisconsin. Needs a year to fill out frame.
Givens Price, No. 78, So., 6-4, 295: Now 18 years old, he finally has the weight to vie for more playing time.
Dwayne Johnson, No. 79, Fr., 6-6, 275: Late tackle commit to 2013 class is NU's best-looking freshman lineman.