Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Revolving Door: Nebraska
By ESPN.com staff
Here, we'll take a look at a couple of key players going, staying and coming for each team in the Big 12.
Ndamukong Suh, DT
What's left to say about the House of Spears? Heisman finalist. No. 2 pick in the NFL draft. Future NFL star?
Suh dominated the college game last year and received plenty of accolades for it. The AP named him its player of the year. He took home the Bednarik, Lombardi, Outland and Nagurski awards. He was also the conference's defensive player of the year. Baker Steinkuhler will step in and help replace Suh, but his $2.6 million donation to the athletic department and university assures he won't be forgotten in Husker lore.
Larry Asante, S
Asante joined Matt O'Hanlon as the back line of the Blackshirts and helped the unit become the nation's best in 2009. Asante was drafted in the fifth round of last weekend's draft, one of three Nebraska defenders to be drafted. Suh and linebacker Phillip Dillard, who probably belongs on this list, too, will be playing in the NFL next season. The conference's coaches voted Asante to the All-Big 12 first team after Asante added 79 tackles in 2009, bringing his career total to 224. Asante picked off two passes as a senior, returning one for a touchdown against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Jared Crick, DT
Critics say Crick -- and his numbers -- benefited from playing alongside Suh. It certainly helped, but Crick wasn't gifted any of his 9.5 sacks in 2009. His highlight came in a win over Baylor, when he notched five sacks against the Bears. He enters 2010 as a possible preseason All-American and a big reason coach Bo Pelini is confident in his defense despite losing five starters from last year's unit.
Prince Amukamara, CB
Amukamara is one reason Pelini isn't scared of trusting in his new starters. A first-year starter in 2009, Amukamara emerged as one of the conference's best corners, intercepting five passes and breaking up 11 passes. He also added a pair of sacks, and has caught the eye of NFL scouts, who will be watching much closely as Amukamara joins Crick as two key pieces to a Nebraska defense hoping to validate high expectations in 2010.
Andrew Rodriguez, OL
Rodriguez, Nebraska's only ESPNU 150 recruit in 2010, comes to Lincoln as the No. 7 offensive guard in his class. Hardly lacking in size (6-foot-6, 298 pounds), the homegrown Nebraska product was the state's top prospect.
Corey Cooper, S
Don't look for Cooper on the field this season, but the 6-foot-1, 193-pound safety provides textbook size and 4.5 speed. He'll have a chance to learn from a group of safeties competing in front of him, and could blossom into another great Nebraska defender. A Proviso, Ill., native, Cooper also returned kicks in high school, but was ranked the No. 20 safety in the country.
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