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Phil Steele Names Pierson-El 1st Team Preseason All-American Punt Returner

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Too late...
Too late...
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Phil Steele has unveiled his preseason all-conference and all-American lists, and one Nebraska Cornhuskers received prominent mention.

De'Mornay Pierson-El was certainly electric last season in breaking open on the punt returns...so much so, in fact, that I suspect he'll have a hard time doing the same in 2015. I expect a lot of teams will follow Pierson-El's Twitter handle, and will instruct their punter to "DontPunt_15" this season.  Kick it out of bounds, kick it out the back of the end zone, or simply go for it on fourth and short.

Because, well....

Pierson-El was also Nebraska's only nominee on Steele's  first team all-Big Ten list as well. The Huskers did get plenty of mentions on the second, third and fourth teams, though:

  • Jordan Westerkamp, Second Team all-Big Ten Wide Receiver
  • Alex Lewis, Third Team all-Big Ten Offensive Line
  • Maliek Collins, Third Team all-Big Ten Defensive Tackle
  • Vincent Valentine, Third Team all-Big Ten Defensive Tackle
  • Nate Gerry, Third Team all-Big Ten Safety
  • Sam Foltz, Third Team all-Big Ten Punter
  • De'Mornay Pierson-El, Fourth Team all-Big Ten Wide Receiver
  • David Santos, Fourth Team all-Big Ten LInebacker

Collins and Gerry as only third team selections is a surprise to me...especially since both were on Steele's second team list last fall. Does this mean that Steele doesn't expect either player to improve much this season, or maybe even regress a bit? Preseason awards are typically an expectation as to where people will perform this season.

I also found the selection of Santos as a fourth team all-Big Ten linebacker to be interesting. While he's Nebraska's most experienced returning linebacker, I suspect most fans are expecting more production out of Michael Rose-Ivey or Josh Banderas this upcoming season.