August 5, 2010

Five players who need big fall camps

When Nebraska opens its fall camp on Saturday, there will be several different players who need to perform especially well to ensure their spots on the depth chart.

As continues our fall camp previews, today we feature the five players who need to have big camps over the next few weeks.

Zac Lee, QB, 6-2, 215, Sr.

No player on Nebraska's roster needs to have a better fall camp showing than senior quarterback Zac Lee. In the midst of one of the most publicized and highly contested position battles on the team, Lee must find a way to dig himself out of the hole he put himself in by missing all of spring practice after undergoing offseason surgery. In his absence, sophomore Cody Green and redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez both had breakout springs and all but erased any advantage Lee may have gained at the end of last season. If he is going to have any shot as reclaiming his starting job, Lee is going to have to show significant improvement as well as no signs of any setbacks following his surgery.
Eric Martin, LB, 6-2, 240, So.

Considering all the competition for just two linebacker spots in Nebraska's new peso defense, sophomore Eric Martin is going to have to turn some of that potential in to proven performance if he's going to earn himself any significant playing time this season. At the moment, it looks as if sophomores Will Compton and Sean Fisher are the frontrunners for the Mike and Will linebacker spots, respectively, and with guys like juco star Lavonte David entering the mix, playing time will come at a premium.
Baker Steinkuhler, DT, 6-6, 290, So.

While junior Jared Crick is stuck with the daunting task of trying to replace the great Ndamukong Suh, someone else is going to have to try and fill Crick's shoes at the other defensive tackle spot this season. That job looks to be in the hands of sophomore Baker Steinkuhler. With two years in head coach Bo Pelini's system under his belt and seeing action in 13 games last year, Steinkuhler needs to take the next step in his development to make sure the Huskers' front four doesn't see a significant drop in production. If he doesn't, junior Terrence Moore will be right behind him to take over.

Jermarcus Hardrick, OL, 6-7, 320, Jr.

Junior offensive tackle Jermarcus Hardrick was one of the most talked about newcomers of the spring, and he's been expected to come in and compete for the starting left tackle job since the day he arrived on campus. Physically, Hardrick has all the tools to be a monster for the Huskers, but the broken hand he suffered in the spring slowed his development somewhat. As a result, redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles ended up claiming the No. 1 spot at the end of spring ball. Hardrick will have to come out and immediately impress if he's going to win the starting role, as the reps he missed this spring left him with some ground to make up mentally.
PJ Smith, S, 6-2, 210, So.

Maybe one of the more forgotten about issues facing Nebraska's defense this offseason is replacing Larry Asante as the leader of the secondary. Not only will the Huskers have to make up for the loss of Asante's physical talents, they'll also need to have someone step up and fill his leadership presence. Sophomore PJ Smith was tabbed by Asante himself as the heir apparent, but Smith will have to prove he's capable of being both a playmaker and the quarterback of the secondary when it comes to making coverage adjustments on the field.

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