New season starts today. Sorta. The players officially report for fall camp. There will be a press conference. Then the team will begin practice with a few days to itself –– no media access –– which makes some sense at the start of a new regime.
While it may not totally feel like the news cycle of a new season has started, the season itself has. New coach, new year, many new players, new, new, new. Every August is a little bit new-obsessed, but this one is particularly so given the drastic roster overhaul of the past months.
So let's run a counter play here on Day 1. We've all broken down the newcomers poised to have an impact in 2018, but what about the veterans that will be key for the Huskers this season? In some ways during a regime-change year those players can have a bigger challenge of unlearning things they knew (or even did well) in the past. Other players might benefit from a new set of eyes on them. While "new" might be more exciting, sometimes simple game experience is what a team needs.
Here are five guys entering at least their third year in the program that I'll be keeping a close eye on this August.
LB Mohamed Barry: The junior from Georgia has about everything you could want from an intangibles point of view. He's a smart player and eager learner with a strong desire to be great. He looks the part. Now we need to see the complete package come together, as Barry seems to have the tools to be more than a 3-tackles-per-game guy.
RB Tre Bryant: Scott Frost gave Bryant some big praise last month noting that the junior running back was one of the returning players who stood out on film from 2017. There wasn't a ton of film to review from last season, but Husker fans knew what Frost was talking about –– Bryant was one of the highlights from a 4-8 season and he didn't even play two full games. But how many other players did Frost say that about this offseason? Not many. Early reports from Bryant's return to workouts have been encouraging, but being game ready by Sept. 1 is still a different story.
DL Carlos Davis: Nebraska needs a breakout performer (or two) on the defensive line and Davis might be the best bet. It wouldn't be a surprise if he fully developed into the player he's shown flashes of being the past two seasons with a new staff in place. Davis was pretty good based on his ability alone, but it wouldn't surprise me if he develops into a great player by season's end.
LB Luke Gifford: With no injury and no regime-change we'd all be penciling in Gifford as one of Nebraska's best players in 2018. He can still be that, but the picture is still mostly cloudy at outside linebacker. Who will emerge? Who has the right mix of skill and knowledge needed at a position that needs versatility? There are some newcomers here who could fit the bill, but looking back at Gifford's injury-shortened 2017 he is going to be tough to keep off the field if he's fully recovered.
DL DaiShon Neal: He's bigger now and he was already pretty big (or at least tall) to begin with. Neal was a high-profile local prospect with a ton of expectations. Michigan was interested. More notably given the new head coach, Oregon was interested and you could see the similarity between Neal and some previous Duck defensive linemen of that era. But it hasn't fully come together for Neal yet. He's one of the players I'd put in the "new start" category. Nebraska has enough depth on the d-line that I think the stakes are fairly low here for the Huskers, but for Neal they're very, very high.
The Grab Bag
- News was coming fast and furious as Urban Meyer was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday. If you need a good recap Eleven Warriors has you covered.
- The big Nebraska news of the day? Maurice Washington isn't just academically eligible to enroll at Nebraska, he's eligible to play this season.
- Greg Smith looks at what we can learn from past quarterback battles under Scott Frost.
- Yesterday was the first day that official scholarship offers could go out to 2019 prospects. If you missed any news on that front we recapped it all here.
Today's Song of Today