Big 12: Colton Koehler

LB Williams granted release by Nebraska

December, 18, 2009
12/18/09
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One of the most heralded recruits in Nebraska's 2009 freshman class has been granted his release from the program, several Nebraska newspapers reported.

Linebacker Chris Williams was named the Texas Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year while at Abilene High School, making him he most heralded defensive recruit for coach Bo Pelini in his tenure at Nebraska.

The 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker sat out this season for the Cornhuskers as a redshirt. He had struggled in recovery from a knee injury that was sustained in the 10th game of his senior season.

The injury kept him from being included on the Cornhuskers' 105-man roster this fall as he rehabilitated during his redshirt season.

The Huskers beat out Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and LSU when they first recruited Williams.

If he's healthy, he would be an attractive recruit for all of those Big 12 programs and many others across the country.

It's a big loss for the Cornhuskers' program that will need some depth at linebacker with the loss of senior weakside starting linebacker Phillip Dillard and senior backup middle linebacker Colton Koehler after the Holiday Bowl.

Henery finally gets his Nebraska scholarship

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin It's been a long time in coming, but Nebraska coach Bo Pelini rewarded the player who might be the most deserving walk-on with a scholarship after a strong season of production. Kicker/punter Alex Henery was among the six Cornhusker walk-on players who have been added to the school's scholarship list, Pelini announced after practice on Saturday. Other Cornhuskers who were put on scholarship include senior wide receiver Wes Cammack, senior linebacker Colton Koehler, senior offensive lineman Derek Meyer, junior tight end Dreu Young and sophomore center Mike Caputo. "It shows that if you come in here and you do the right things, for the football team and yourself, you have a good chance of being rewarded for your efforts," Pelini told reporters after Saturday's practice. "That shows with those six young men.'' The most obvious was Henery, who arguably was one of the most valuable Cornhuskers last season. His dramatic school-record 57-yard field goal against Colorado -- one of four in a 40-31 triumph over the Buffaloes -- helped boost the Cornhuskers into the Gator Bowl. Henery then added four field goals in the bowl game, providing the margin of victory in a 26-21 triumph over Clemson. It capped a season when he converted 26 of 29 field goals. Koehler produced 16 tackles in seven games last season. Young snagged nine passes. And Cammack has been a key producer for the Cornhuskers on special teams each of the past two seasons. Meyer, a recent transfer from Kansas State, and Caputo both are in the two-deep for the Huskers' offensive line. "This is a great group of guys and it is great to be able to have the ability to recognize their contributions by placing them on scholarship," Pelini said. "Each of those guys has shown a great commitment to our football program, and they do things the right way on and off the field."

Nebraska spring wrap

May, 14, 2009
5/14/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2008 overall record: 9-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

I-back Roy Helu Jr., I-back Quentin Castille, G Jacob Hickman, TE Mike McNeill, DE Pierre Allen, DT Ndamukong Suh, S Larry Asante, K Alex Henery.

Key losses

QB Joe Ganz, I-back Marlon Lucky, WR Todd Peterson, WR Nate Swift, G Matt Slauson, DT Ty Steinkuhler, CB Armando Murillo

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Roy Helu Jr. * (803 yards)
Passing: Joe Ganz (3,568 yards)
Receiving: Nate Swift (941 yards)
Tackles: Ndamukong Suh* (76)
Sacks: Ndamukong Suh* (7.5)
Interceptions: Ndamukong Suh*, Zach Potter, Anthony West* (2)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 12 Arkansas State
Sept. 19 at Virginia Tech
Sept. 26 Louisiana-Lafayette
Oct. 8 at Missouri
Oct. 17 Texas Tech
Oct. 24 Iowa State
Oct. 31 at Baylor
Nov. 7 Oklahoma
Nov. 14 at Kansas
Nov. 21 Kansas State
Nov. 27 at Colorado

1. Zac Lee: There were some serious doubts before spring practice at quarterback, but Lee appeared to dispel most of those fears as he replaced Joe Ganz. Lee looked comfortable in his role as starter, passing for 214 yards and three TDs in the spring game. His development over the spring has clearly stamped him as the most likely starter for the Cornhuskers in August when heralded freshman Cody Green will be more comfortable in the offense.

2. Tight ends: Mike McNeill already was one of the conference's most underrated players after breaking the school record for catches at the position last season. But the Cornhuskers will have outstanding depth at the position after strong springs by junior Dreu Young, sophomore Ryan Hill and freshmen Kyle Reed and Ben Cotton. Their growth at the position might lessen some of the worries at wide receiver. Don't be surprised if the Cornhuskers regularly feature two-tight end sets as part of their basic offensive strategy.

3. Antonio Bell: The suspension of Niles Paul was supposed to aggravate the Cornhuskers' iffy depth at wide receiver. But Bell developed into a strong playmaker at the position and even showed some flashes as a kick returner at the spring game. He'll be in the mix for playing time at the start of the season.

Fall questions

1. Wide receiver: The loss of leading 2008 receivers Todd Peterson and Nate Swift robbed the Cornhuskers of much of their big-play capabilities at the position as well as a duo which contributed 125 combined catches last season. It will remain the biggest offensive liability of the Cornhuskers. Players like Menelik Holt and Paul will need to add production. Injury-prone Chris Brooks produced five catches in the spring game and much is expected from heralded junior-college standout Brandon Kinnie. And Marcus Mendoza looks to have adjusted after moving to wide receiver from I-back.

2. Right side of the offensive line: The loss of Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha robbed the Cornhuskers of solid producers familiar with playing together. Marcel Jones appears to have claimed the starting job at right tackle. And the development of center Mike Caputo allowed Nebraska line coach Barney Cotton to
experiment with moving starting center Jacob Hickman to right guard. But a bigger question will be replacing the veteran leadership they received with Murtha and Slauson over the last several years.

3. Linebackers: The Cornhuskers are talented but very young at linebacker. Colton Koehler and Matthew May both look to have earned starting positions during the spring. Redshirt freshmen Alonzo Whaley, Micah Kreikemeier, Sean Fisher and Will Compton all had their moments. But a key player in fall practice will be Blake Lawrence, who started quickly but suffered a concussion late in the spring.

Nebraska walk-on LB could see increased action against OU

October, 30, 2008
10/30/08
6:55
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

With the recent injury to Nebraska starting middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, walk-on Colton Koehler could see increased playing time against Oklahoma.

Koehler is an interesting story. He's a walk-on from tiny Harvard, Neb., who transferred to Nebraska after initially signing with Nebraska Wesleyan.

"When he's out there, he's focused and he concentrates because it means a ton to him," Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "He's always one of the guys watching extra film.

"He was born and raised here [in Nebraska]. He loves representing the university."

Koehler has appeared in three games this season and produced three tackles, including a safety last week against Baylor on his only snap of the game.

Interestingly, Koehler has declined all interview requests, the Journal-Star said.

"He doesn't want to say much because he feels he hasn't done much to this point," Ekeler said. "He wants to earn his stripes. He's just a very humble guy. Plus, he just has so much respect for Phillip. It's really just a respect thing.

"He told me after the Baylor game, 'Coach, I played only one snap. Let those other guys who were out there all game fighting their tails off do the talking.'

"He's humble, and it's genuine -- that's just who he is."

Perhaps most interestingly -- and a direct indictment of some of the heralded supposed talent that came to the program during Bill Callahan's much-ballyhooed recruiting success -- is the fact that Koehler is among five walk-ons currently listed on Nebraska's defensive two-deep roster. Others include defensive backs Matt O'Hanlon and Lance Thorell and linebackers Tyler Wortman and Matt Holt.

Big 12 internal affairs: Pregame pledges spark Missouri

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
9:10
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few tidbits from across the conference heading into this week's games.

1. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel evoked a deeper pledge of accountability from his team in the week between the Tigers' loss at Texas and last week's game at Colorado. The Missouri coach made each player visit his office and promise his best effort against Colorado. The ploy worked as the Tigers responded with a 58-0 shutout over the Buffaloes -- Missouri's first shutout in a conference game since 1986.

2. Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, projected by many to be the best back in the conference before the season, finally appears back to form after two strong weeks of play. The main reason, Murray said, is his confidence in making sharper cuts on the field is finally returning. Murray sustained a dislocated kneecap late last season and had trouble bouncing back from the injury for mental and physical reasons. But not any longer. Murray has accounted for 287 yards rushing and receiving and scored six TDs in victories over Kansas and Kansas State.

3. Texas Tech coaches are gaining confidence in walk-on kicker Matt Williams, who was used only for extra points last week against Kansas. Tech coaches are finding that Williams' range is strong for field goals of up to about 40 yards and may consider using him for those kicks in Saturday's South Division showdown against Texas. Donnie Carona remains their choice for longer field-goal attempts.

4. Expect converted freshman wide receiver Daymond Patterson to remain at cornerback for the foreseeable future at Kansas. Coach Mark Mangino said the position switch was made because of lack of personnel at the defensive position. Patterson got a tough baptism last week as he faced off against Texas Tech's high-powered aerial attack. And it won't get much easier this week when he faces Kansas State.

5. Nebraska linebacker Phillip Dillard's recurring ankle injury will result in a variety of players likely filling his position if he can't go Saturday against Oklahoma. Tyler Wortman, Colton Koehler and walk-on freshman Matt Holt will get some of the playing time. But the most likely scenario could be that Cody Glenn would slide to the position from his starting weak-side position. The Sooners' run-heavy philosophy likely will keep the Cornhuskers from sliding an extra defensive back into the position in their base defense.

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