LINCOLN, Neb. -- As if the constant double-teams weren't enough, Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick doesn't have to stray far from Memorial Stadium for a big reminder that his partner on the interior of the defensive line won't be back next season.
Larger than life, in fact.
Only a few hundred yards away, Ndamukong Suh stands alongside Highway 34 looking chic in an ad for a local men's clothier on a billboard that reads, "Nice Suht!"
Though Suh's eye-popping tackle totals and highlight reel helped put him there, Crick isn't focusing on replacing either. Instead, he spent his spring beginning to replace Suh's role on the defense that didn't show up on "SportsCenter."
"He was huge for us with his talent level and his physicality, but it was more so his leadership on the field, getting guys revved up to go, getting us to believe we were going to get a three-and-out every single series," Crick said.
Early reviews? Rave.
"Jared is definitely the glue that keeps us together," said cornerback Prince Amukamara. "He has a big role, not only as a player, but as a leader and he’s definitely showing that this spring."
Crick estimates he was double-teamed on 25 percent of his snaps early in the season, and as his production grew, that number topped out around 50 percent with Suh still dominating the front line of the defense. Opponents might flirt with triple digits during his junior season, after Crick tallied 12.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last season.
"It’s expected. Until the guy next to me really shows he has the potential to win one-on-ones, I assume they’re going to focus on me more," Crick said. "I watch how teams attacked Suh and kind of expect that’s probably how they’ll attack me."
Crick knows the attention paid to Suh contributed to his impressive numbers, but as the headliner on the defensive line now, he hopes to provide young defensive tackles with the same opportunities for success the Heisman finalist provided him.
"He was such a great teammate," Crick said. "I still gotta prove myself a little more. I’m not the player Suh was last year, but I’m trying to get there."