Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

Joshua Kalu (at Safety) and the Running Backs Stand Out Early

July 30, 2017
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Joshua Kalu is one of the Huskers’ starting safeties.

At least, that’s what it looked like after the Huskers’ first full day of fall camp Sunday morning. Kalu spent the entirety of his time on the field at the safety position for head coach Mike Riley.

“We understand we have a little bit of versatility there with Josh (Kalu) and his experience at corner is good,” Riley said. “But we have been excited about his fit at safety and what he brings in that area. We like that look and we are hesitant to move it.”

While Kalu stayed at safety alongside junior Aaron Williams, several young guys stood out at the cornerback spot. Eric Lee Jr. and Lamar Jackson took the field first for seven-on-seven drills on the perimeter, and redshirt freshman Dicaprio Bootle rotated in.

“We feel like with three guys right now, when you’re talking about Lamar, Eric Lee and Bootle, we will have those guys and see who else breaks into it that are sound, smart, good football players. That’s our first option,” Riley said.

Riley acknowledged that his cornerback spots are lacking in depth and game experience following injuries to Chris Jones and JoJo Domann, but said the staff will be looking for guys that can earn their trust more than anything else.

“Just being really sound and smart,” he said. “I think that’s going to be the way that they give everybody the trust that we need for them to play. That they understand their assignment, they understand what they have to take away at their position and that they are really smart down the field.”

And when it comes to playing a little nickel? Don’t hold your breath. Riley talked about his experience with a depleted roster in the Canadian Football League the last time he ran a 3-4 defense, saying he would choose to stay away from the look if he didn’t feel he had the right personnel to be effective. While Nebraska has a bigger roster than the 37-man ones Riley got in the CFL, their depth at corner right now is probably more comparable, and it doesn’t sound like Riley is too excited to try out the nickel package now just for the sake of it.

>> If the secondary took home the prize as the top storyline from day one of fall camp, the tailback group came up just short. From the veterans Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon to freshman Jaylin Bradley and sophomore Tre Bryant, Riley was impressed with the entire group.

“I was impressed with the backs,” he said when asked about the offense as a whole. “I think they’re all in good shape. It appeared to me like it was all workman-like with those backs. They went in, they did their job and looked good.”

Bradley, the youngster of the group, caught his new coach's eye, showing off his athleticism.

“I think that room is rising as far as what we might get out of them and I’m excited about it,” Riley said.

The Huskers will be back in action on Tuesday as fall camp continues.
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