USA TODAY Sports
Can Nebraka be better on the defensive line next season? Maybe, but that's far from a given. Considering the loss in experience, it's also very possible that Nebraska could be even worse.
The defensive line is a huge question mark. Nebraska returns a few role players from last season, and seems to be banking on a touted group of redshirt freshman to reverse a downward slide. What happens up front this offseason may define the 2013 season. How many new players will contribute this season? And will there be a change in scheme this season? Nebraska has traditionally ran a 4-3, but there have been rumors that the Huskers are considering a 3-4 alignment.
2013 Previews* Quarterbacks
* Running Backs
* Wide Receivers
* Tight Ends
* Offensive Line
* Special Teams
Returning: Thad Randle, Sr. DT; Chase Rome, Jr. DT; Kevin Williams, So. DT; Jason Ankrah, Sr. DE; Vincent Valentine, RFr. DT; Aaron Curry, So. DT; Avery Moss, RFr. DE; Greg McMullen, RFr. DE; Jay Guy, Jr. DT; Tobi Okuyemi, Jr. DT; Walker Ashburn, Jr. DE; Donovan Westal, Jr. DE
Incoming: Randy Gregory, JuCo DE Verbal; Maliek Collins, DT Verbal; Kevin Maurice, DT Verbal; A.J. Natter, DE Verbal; Earnest Suttles, DE Verbal
Departing: Baker Steinkuhler, DT; Cameron Meredith, DE; Eric Martin, DE; Joseph Carter, DE
Salt Creek: The first thing that jumps out at you is the...um...youth movement on the line. Our returning experienced players are Randle, Rome, Williams and Ankrah. At this point, you kind of look at it and scratch your head. We've been told that some of the young guys probably should've played this season (and Curry would've had he not been injured) so that's promising. But I can't really guess where this is headed right now - there's really no depth chart here. Every spot is open.
Mike: Everybody inside the program appears to be really high on Vincent Valentine. Greg McMullen got a few mentions as well. I do believe that Nebraska CAN be better on the defensive line next season, but that's far from a given. Considering the loss in experience, it's also very possible that Nebraska could be even worse. And if you are Bo Pelini, you really can't afford to have that happen.
Billgrip: The best part about the defensive line next year is that Bo will be forced to step outside his comfort zone and put talent over trust. Hopefully. Baker Steinkuhler was very underrated last year, and everyone saw what happened when he went out. Bo's scheme relies heavily on a stud at defensive tackle- someone who is just as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer. Of the guys we've seen (Rome, Randle, and Ankrah), I'm not sure that any are capable of being that guy. Valentine will only be a redshirt freshman, so assuming he is a cure all is kool-aid drinking at best. That said, there's still plenty of reason for optimism here. An experienced secondary and soft schedule should mask the inexperience for most of the season. Bo has a history of recruiting JUCOS who make an impact, and incoming DE Randy Gregroy is the #1 rated Juco DE in the country.
Brandon Cavanaugh: I like BG's line about talent over trust because quite honestly, the youngin's are going to be needed, especially on the interior. Randle's a hard worker, but I'm not sure he'll ever be 100 percent again and I still feel Rome hasn't tapped into his true potential.
I expect Vince Valentine to compete for a starting spot early and at least rotate in during the out of conference slate if not start at some point. Kevin Williams is a guy that I expect big things from. He was a great get, somewhat under the radar, but Nebraska got a steal.
Moving outside, Jason Ankrah finally broke through and showed the potential I saw when he was initially brought in. I could see he and Randy Gregory being the starters with Greg McMullen and Avery Moss jumping in to spell them.