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Fantasy football: Early top 50 rankings

We are still four days from the start of preseason football and players have barely been in camp a week. Yet the fantasy football bug is already starting to bite, and owners have started preparing for their draft.

Most leagues will draft in mid-August, giving time to see how preseason position battles unfold. However, some battles are already won. That being said, here's an early look at the Top 50 fantasy players for this season.

The trend, much like the last few years, is grabbing running backs early. Ten of my top 13 players are running backs, with Peyton Manning, Calvin J...

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Husker Camp Countdown: No. 14 Maliek Collins

From now until the start of fall camp, The World-Herald will be counting down the top 50 players you need to know heading into the 2014 football season.

Maliek Collins  |  6-2  |  300  |  Sophomore  |  Defensive tackle

Under the radar for most of his high school career, Collins is front and center now as he begins his sophomore season.

Athletic and strong enough for Bo Pelini to compare him to Glenn Dorsey, Collins has the flexibility to play nose tackle or defensive end, and his wrestling background allows him to play with good leverage and footwork.

If Collins s...

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B1G media days: Pelini says Armstrong's in typical growth process

While the Huskers were on spring break, taking a week off from practice, coach Bo Pelini said he took some time to review every single pass thrown by Nebraska's quarterbacks during the first half of workouts.

Pelini had a point to make.

According to Pelini, it's not uncommon for young quarterbacks to spend too much time surveying defenses, standing in the pocket for far too long as they wait for routes to open up. Such was the case for sophomore Tommy Armstrong, redshirt freshman Johnny Stanton and sophomore Ryker Fyfe.

So when the team returned from break, Pelini playe...

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B1G media days: Pelini says SEC dominance exaggerated by media

One surefire way for a reporter to receive a Bo Pelini death stare at Big Ten media days: ask a question implying that football in the SEC is far better than every other conference.

The Nebraska coach got a bit agitated at the topic last year. It happened again Tuesday morning.

The SEC has seven of the past eight national titles. It has led all conferences in NFL draft picks for eight years. It has six of the country’s 12 highest-paid coaches.

Pelini won’t dispute that.

“I’m not saying the SEC’s not a great conference,” he said.

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B1G media days: Bo Pelini on 'Veronica', alternate uniforms, seniors and more

CHICAGO — Nebraska coach Bo Pelini arrived a few minutes before 8 a.m. at his designated table for day two of the Big Ten media days. 

"Am I the first coach in here?" he asked Husker reporters already dutifully stationed around him. 

He was. After a few minutes of chitchat about the Cubs-Rockies baseball game the night before — Pelini is an avowed baseball fan — his session was underway. 

Two hours later, as Pelini was wrapping up, he insisted with a smile that his phrase "going Veronica" wasn't made up. He asked each reporter if they'd heard of the phrase before. That'...

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Husker Camp Countdown: No. 15 Imani Cross

From now until the start of fall camp, The World-Herald will be counting down the top 50 players you need to know heading into the 2014 football season.

Imani Cross  |  6-1  |  230  |  Junior  |  Running back

Nebraska’s biggest back certainly wasn’t willing to step aside for younger backs Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor this spring, putting together his strongest spring camp and outperforming both youngsters.

Cross still excels inside the red zone and in short-yardage situations, and this spring he flashed more talent to pull away from defenders and change directions in t...

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Video: Nebraska's Kenny Bell on "The Bottom Line"

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell joined Mike'l Severe on "The Bottom Line" Monday during Big Ten media days.

Watch the full interview below:

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What should a Wisconsin-NU trophy look like? Readers weigh in

Nebraska and Wisconsin will unveil a rivalry trophy, perhaps this fall. Tom Shatel has the scoop in his column.

We asked for trophy design ideas and our Twitter users delivered. It received plenty of discussion Facebook as well. Here are some the best ideas:

.@OWHbigred No trophy. Loser forfeits the right to wear red jerseys or pants in conference games. — Zach Hunnicutt (@zjhunn) July 28, 2014

//

@zjhunn @OWHbigred #Huskers v Badgers rivalry trophy... "The Cheeseburger" sponsored by @OmahaSteaks — Chris Vasek (@ChrisVasek) July 28, 2014

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Video: Nebraska's Corey Cooper on "The Bottom Line"

Nebraska defensive back Corey Cooper joined Mike'l Sever at Big Ten media days in Chicago.

Watch the full interview here:

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B1G media days: Day one odds and ends

A final sampling of the sights and sounds at Big Ten Media Days on Monday:

>> Wisconsin really is committed to a quarterback competition, which could mean shelving two-year starter Joel Stave for Tanner McAvoy, who played safety last year.

"Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy will come in and split the reps,” UW coach Gary Andersen said. "Those first four practices when we're split, obviously one's going to be a 1 in the morning and one will be a 1 in the afternoon... It's going to be interesting to watch. It was a great, competitive battle in spring as even though Joel was ve...

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B1G media days: Devin Gardner's bad rap

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner amassed 3,443 total yards and 32 total touchdowns last year for the Wolverines.

That's better statistically than any year Chad Henne had at Michigan. Or Todd Collins. Or Tom Brady. Or Brian Griese. Or Jim Harbaugh. Or Elvis Grbac.

But those Michigan quarterbacks – most of them legends within the program – led teams that won big. Gardner's Michigan team went 7-6 in 2013. And he took a chunk of the heat for it, enough that some pundits suggested the fifth-year senior might lose his job to true sophomore Shane Morris, despite the fact that Morr...

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Video: Big Ten coaches speak at media days

Watch each football coach's appearance at Big Ten media days on Monday:

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B1G media days: James Franklin's 'Scream, Hug Em, Go Crazy' brand

James Franklin said he was like this as a kid. Loud. Excited. Emotional. Franklin doesn't add “hyper-aware,” but perhaps he was that, too, because he was particularly locked in during Big Ten Media Days sessions Monday, giving sharp, substantive answers to a variety of questions from reporters. 

“I'm emotional, passionate guy,” Franklin said on the second floor of the Hilton Chicago. “I think a lot of times people get into these roles – whether it's management, whether it's a CEO, whether it's a head coach, and they try to act 'like a head coach is supposed to act.' And I'm going t...

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6 Husker notes you may have missed from Big Ten media days

Big Ten media days is kind of like a firehose of information. Through the first day, we've heard from all 14 coaches, commissioner Jim Delany and had countless interviews with players, coaches and analysts in Chicago for the event.

Here are six of the Husker-related news items you may have missed:

>> Apparently Nebraska and Wisconsin are working on a rivalry trophy.

>> The Huskers' trip from Lincoln to Chicago was made in style, including a private jet and a tricked-out Mercedes.

>> NU I-back Ameer Abullah said at first he didn't track the Big Te...

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B1G media days: NU players approve of possible practice changes

CHICAGO – Nothing's set in stone yet. And not too many specifics have been revealed. But Bo Pelini mentioned Monday that he and the Nebraska coaches are looking at lessening the players' physical and mental workload this fall.

The Huskers in attendance at Big Ten media days have no problem with that.

“We struggled with injuries last season. I think he took that into account,” safety Corey Cooper said. “His goal is to keep guys healthy and make sure we're just as strong in November as we are in August.”

And there's a mental aspect involved, too. They have team meetings, ...

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Shoulder injury had NU's Kenny Bell feeling 'terrible' in late 2013

In one of Kenny Bell's various appearance at Big Ten media day on Monday, the Husker receiver talked about injuries, his advice for Ameer Abdullah and more.

Check out the video and read the highlights below:

On advice for Ameer Abdullah, who is delivering a keynote speech at the event Tuesday:

"I've never given a speech like that," said Bell, laughing and shrugging. "I just said good luck. I couldn't give him any advice."

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B1G media days: Boss Jim Delany takes the stage

CHICAGO -- Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is an unabashed fan of his league and lofty decrees. He's the last of the Power 5 commissioners to give his state of the union address to reporters, and his language is considerably more measured than some of his colleagues. Highlights from Delany's opening remarks and Q&A session with reporters:

>>Delany expects a NCAA proposal to give Power 5 conferences more autonomy to govern themselves will pass on Aug. 7.  

>>Does "cheating pay," as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby suggested? Delany wouldn't bite, but he did call...

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B1G media days: Bo Pelini wants more efficiency

CHICAGO – The buzz word of Bo Pelini's chat with the press at Big Ten Media Days: Efficiency.

More efficient on offense. More efficient with turnovers. And more efficient in practice. Pelini told reporters he's considering changes to the way the Huskers practice after doing “research” in the offseason.

“I'm leaning toward staying with the practice on Sunday with Monday off and we're strongly considering flipping Thursday and Friday for a lot of different reasons,” Pelini said.

Nebraska may shorten the amount of time the players are on the practice field, as well.

...

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They said it: A full transcript of Bo Pelini's Big Ten media day address

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini addressed the media Monday afternoon and then took part in a Q&A session at Big Ten media days.

Check out the entire transcript below, covering topics including Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory, recruiting, offseason work, and, of course, his cat.

Also, check out Lee Barfknecht's column on Abdullah and track live updates here.

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The complete transcript:

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Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini at Big Ten media days

Watch Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's address and Q&A session during Monday's Big Ten media day event:

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Abdullah, Gregory among 10 B1G players to watch

Nebraska football standouts Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory were named to the Big Ten preseason players to watch list Monday. The 10-player list, selected by a media panel, features five student-athletes each from the East and West divisions.

Abdullah earned first-team All-Big Ten honors when he rushed for 1,690 yards in 2013, the most of any player returning for 2014. Abdullah owns 2,977 career rushing yards to rank third among active returning players in career rushing yards, and he leads all active players with 4,914 career all-purpose yards.

Gregory became one of the Big...

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B1G media days: Pat Fitzgerald touts toughness, togetherness, QB

CHICAGO – Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald Monday casually dropped the “u” word to open Big Ten Media Days.

Not “union,” but “unified.” The Wildcats, who voted this spring to determine whether they'd form a union in the wake of a National Labor Relations Board hearing – the results of the vote are not yet known – are tighter than they've ever been.

“There's no more unified football program in the country,” Fitzgerald said during his usual polished apperance on the dais. “We've been through more since January than most. It's been nothing but positive in our locker room. I thi...

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Husker Camp Countdown: No. 16 Cethan Carter

From now until the start of fall camp, The World-Herald will be counting down the top 50 players you need to know heading into the 2014 football season.

Cethan Carter  |  6-4  |  240  |  Sophomore  |  Tight end

Potential seems to ooze from the talented second-year player who has the size of a tight end but runs like a receiver. The challenge will be for the offense to put him to better use — and take advantage of more mismatches — after Carter caught 10 passes as a true freshman but often seemed to be a target on plays that just didn’t work.

No doubt a full year in the ...

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Big Ten media days: The Chicago Way, and issues to watch

Located across the street from Grant Park and on one of the best-known streets in North America, the Hilton Chicago is a fitting locale for Big Ten media days and the ensuing luncheon.

Its Michigan Avenue address and old-school design fit the Big Ten’s idea of itself: A corporate player. And, indeed, the Big Ten is. According to the Lafayette Journal and Courier, the Big Ten projects schools will receive $44.5 million per year when the new TV deal rolls around in 2017. Those dollars will keep the league solvent in the long term.

Will the Big Ten win in the short term?

T...

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Husker Camp Countdown: No. 17 Jamal Turner

From now until the start of fall camp, The World-Herald will be counting down the top 50 players you need to know heading into the 2014 football season.

Jamal Turner  |  6-1  |  190 pounds  |  Senior  |  Wide receiver

It’s a repeated verse, but one of the keys for Turner will be staying healthy.

Last season’s problems with a hamstring and a leg injury limited him to eight games and 13 receptions. That spoiled the expectations that were brewing after a sophomore year in which Turner caught 32 passes, included the go-ahead scores against Michigan State and Penn State in 2...

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Husker Camp Countdown: No. 18 Zach Sterup

From now until the start of fall camp, The World-Herald will be counting down the top 50 players you need to know heading into the 2014 football season.

Zach Sterup  |  6-8  |  320  |  junior  |  offensive tackle

Never hard to spot with his height and hair, Sterup is about to be more visible than ever as Nebraska goes on without veteran tackles Jeremiah Sirles, Brent Qvale and Andrew Rodriguez.

Sterup spent all spring as the No. 1 right tackle as transfer Alex Lewis started taking over on the left side. Lack of experience isn’t a major concern. Line injuries led to Ster...

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Creighton assistant Spencer Allen leaves for Illinois

Creighton assistant baseball coach Spencer Allen has taken a job with Illinois. Allen served as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons at CU.

"I am very excited to be a part of the Illinois baseball program, this coaching staff and the athletic department," Allen said. "I am very familiar with this program and the success it has had recently and in its rich history. I look forward to meeting with the players and getting things going once I get on campus."

Allen was in his second stint in Omaha, returning to Creighton after three seasons servi...

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Former Husker Carl Nicks parts ways with Bucs, may retire

The Tampa Bay Bucs and Pro Bowler Carl Nicks have mutually agreed to part ways, with Nicks saying it's time "to step away from the game."

While it's unclear whether Nicks' decision is a permanent retirement or could be temporary, the offensive lineman has struggled in recent years to fully recover from an MRSA infection in his foot.

In a team press release, Nicks expressed gratitude toward the Buccaneers.

"I’d like to thank the Buccaneers organization for working with me as I have attempted to get myself back on the football field,” said Nicks. "However, after careful c...

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Trio of Huskers projected as 'breakout players' in 2014

Nebraska offensive lineman Alex Lewis and defensive tackles Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins are poised to make an impact in 2014.

At least that's what Athlon Sports predicts in its list of Big Ten breakout players to watch this upcoming season.

The NU defensive line won't give opposing offenses "much room to run on the interior," Athlon's Steven Lassan writes, adding that the Husker coaches have to be "excited about the talent in place."

More from Lassan on the defensive side:

"End Randy Gregory is one of the top defensive players in the nation, and the combi...

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Huskers offer Lincoln Christian tight end Jared Bubak

Lincoln Christian tight end Jared Bubak announced Friday that he has received a scholarship offer from Nebraska, and if Bubak's reaction is any indication of his future plans, it seems the 2016 prospect could indeed eventually be headed for Lincoln.

Bubak already holds an offer from South Dakota State, but the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Crusader said in a Twitter post that playing at Nebraska has been a longtime dream:

Just got offered by Nebraska!! God has totally blessed me! Been my dream since I was a kid to be a Husker! #c4c #GBR — Jared Bubak (@Bubaka_03) July 25, 2014 // <...

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