The Big Ten released the list of attendees for the conference’s upcoming Media Days in Chicago on Monday, and two of the Huskers were no-brainers — senior linebacker Mohamed Barry and sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez.
The third name was a bit out of left field, however. It was senior defensive lineman Khalil Davis.
Barry is one of the most vocal players on the team and is one of the most productive returning defenders in the Big Ten. Most people that follow the team had Barry pegged as a future team captain midway through last season. Martinez is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and Scott Frost is challenging him to emerge as a team leader. The only thing working against him is his age as media day spots often go to upperclassmen.
Ahead of Monday’s announcement, the Hail Varsity staff was tossing out candidates and assigning odds for each of them. We went seven deep, and Davis wasn’t among them.
Coming out of high school, Khalil’s twin brother Carlos was more highly-rated. Both players redshirted during their first year at Nebraska. Carlos played more in 2016, logging four starts and 24 tackles while Khalil was a reserve all season, notching just five tackles.
Carlos emerged as a full-time starter as a redshirt sophomore, recording 42 tackles including 2.5 sacks. Khalil saw more playing time than the previous season but still played off the bench, contributing 15 tackles and 2.0 sacks.
Though Carlos still saw more playing time — logging nine starts — last season, it was a breakout year for Khalil. He played in all 12 games off the bench and led the defensive line with eight tackles for loss and was second in sacks with 3.0. He added four quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. For the first time, he out-tackled his brother 41 to 27, though Carlos was asked to spend much of the season at nose tackle after Mick Stoltenberg suffered an injury.
Now Khalil will get the chance to represent the defensive line, the Blackshirts and the entire team in Chicago.
This season, a lot of the defensive linemen began holding post-practice interviews as a group. Khalil was part of that group including Carlos, Damion Daniels and Deontre Thomas primarily. Now he’ll get a chance to speak on his own. Davis is fairly soft-spoken but thoughtful in his responses.
The defensive line is arguably the deepest position group on the team, so it makes sense to have a player from that group head to Chicago. Darrion Daniels won the respect of that room almost immediately after he arrived as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, but he’s still only been in Lincoln for a few months and has yet to play a game for the Huskers. Ben Stille has delivered a few note-worthy quotes in the past and has grown into a key part of that line, but he’s not generally a big talker.
Matt Farniok has emerged as the most vocal person in the offensive line room and he would have been a solid choice. Lamar Jackson is always entertaining if nothing else. JD Spielman is one of the best players on the team but isn’t a fan of talking to the media.
All in all, Nebraska has a pretty solid crew heading to Chicago, and Hail Varsity will be there as well to bring you plenty of coverage as we gear up for Year 2 of the Scott Frost era in Lincoln.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.