Bo Pelini announced at Big 12 media days that Jaivorio Burkes was no longer with the Husker football team. It wasn't news as much as a confirmation of what was already suspected - that Burkes medical condition would keep him from playing this year. There was hope that things would work out for the best, but it just wasn't to be.
Unfortunately, the news leaves the Huskers looking for a right tackle, as Burkes had proved himself to be more of an adequate replacement for Lydon Murtha. Burkes' departure puts Marcel Jones in position to be the starting right tackle.
Right guard remains unsettled - in the spring, Jacob Hickman had moved to the right guard position with walk-on Mike Caputo playing well enough to take over center due to Hickman's move. Hickman stated that he'd start fall at the center position, meaning Ricky Henry must step up into the right guard spot. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hickman back at guard with Caputo starting at center.
As it stands now, the starting line would look like:
- Left Tackle - Mike Smith
- Left Guard - Keith Williams
- Center - Jacob Hickman/Mike Caputo
- Right Guard - Jacob Hickman/Ricky Henry
- Right Tackle - Marcel Jones
Those would appear to be Barney Cotton's best five players at this point. Obviously more linemen are needed to provide time in rotation and to provide depth should there be more injuries. With a 12-game regular season, injuries are to be expected.
Fall practice will find the Cotton searching for the players who are going to step up and fill in the rotation. Ricky Henry needs to prove himself capable of playing a guard position, while DJ Jones can provide time at either guard or tackle. Derek Meyer, a transfer from Kansas State could fill in nicely here, and an added bonus would be Andy Christensen's return. Redshirt freshman Brandon Thompson should see more playing time should he get his act together in the fall.
It was also announced that linebacker Matt Holt would sit 2009 out and take a redshirt year due to a shoulder injury. Given the number of players vying for playing time at linebacker this isn't earth-shattering news, unless, of course, you're Matt Holt. Holt played well in 2008, getting a start against Texas Tech when he had a career-high nine tackles. Unfortunately, he was injured against Kansas and missed the rest of the 2008 season.