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Nebraska Football 2016: It’s Now Or Never For These Players

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These players may disappear into the abyss if they can’t perform in ‘16.

Gallery: Practice!

One of my biggest issues with recruiting is that, no matter how many accolades are bestowed on some kids when they sign, some simply won’t make a difference on the team and become dead weight.

There are different ways that programs take care of this “dead weight”. The program might ship them to a JUCO or another school, or keep them and help the APR score with a big GPA.

Nebraska is no different, and there are kids that need to either get into starting or the two-deep rotation, or just be prepared to be a kid who gets passed by others on the depth chart.

I have compiled a list here with the help of the CN staff after I asked who they would put on. There’s an argument to be made for and against most of these players staying or going.

The requirements of the list is that 1) said player was signed to a scholarship out of High School (no walk-on’s to scholarship) and 2) they have been in Lincoln two or more years and have either not contributed yet, or may not be able to if better players have been recruited to their position.

Gallery: Practice!

Zack Darlington: It’s hard to put a guy that has gone through a lot on this list, but the position change he’s made in Spring ball justifies it. Darlington looked pretty good in the ‘15 Scrimmage, but with Tommy Armstrong starting, Ryker Fyfe and Patrick O’Brien above him and Tristan Gebbia coming in, Darlington made the decision to go to WR.

So, why put him on this list now? For the simple fact that if Darlington doesn’t get in the two-deep rotation now, the WR talent that Keith Williams is bringing in will circulate around him. That’s not saying that Darlington couldn’t serve a purpose now, but if a Joseph Lewis/Tyjon Lindsey/Jamire Calvin comes in, with a JD Speilman/Derrion Grim being introduced... well, you see my point.

There’s always a need for a coaches son on a team, but I just can’t see Darlington giving something to the program if he can’t get on the field this year.

Adam Taylor: Taylor came to Nebraska setting records of all kind at Katy HS in Texas. I still contend that his performance in the 5A title game his Senior year vs Cedar Hill was the best performance I’ve ever seen. 277 yards rushing and 5 TD’s against one of the top 3 programs in the State with 8-9 in the box? Incredible.

Unfortunately, Taylor also brought an injury bug with him to Lincoln. A torn ACL with losing all of 2014 to a broken ankle has set Taylor back, and some folks have passed him, specifically, Devine Ozigbo and Mikale Wilbon.

Now, to be fair to Taylor, he’s made a living at Nebraska contributing on Special Teams, so it’s not like he’s not getting on the field. However, with the way that Taylor just hasn’t seemed to pass folks and with the addition of Tre Bryant, Taylor is a guy that is facing now or never time as a Running Back in the traditional mode.

BYU v Nebraska Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Mikale Wilbon: Speaking of Wilbon, do you remember this guy? He had a whole grand total of 9 carries last year, and nothing past the South Alabama game. His 8 carries in the Spring game a couple months ago was a lot.

With the way that Ozigbo went off for 80 yards on 20 carries during the Foster Farms Bowl, Wilbon is a guy that needs to show the ability to get on the field. With the aforementioned Taylor & Bryant competing for playing time behind Terrell Newby and Ozigbo as well, Wilbon needs to show Nebraska something.

David Knevel: The Junior from Canada helped Nebraska in ways last year, being dressed as a extra Tight End in some games. He also was listed behind Alex Lewis for most of the season at Left Tackle.

However, there is a big time youth movement on Nebraska’s OL, and if Knevel isn’t trusted in any main rotation, then when will he? As a Senior, if you haven’t passed the likes of Christian Gaylord, Matt Farniok, Jalin Barnett, John Raridon... you get my drift.

Jon had him as a starter in our Spring prospectus earlier this year. That’s a fair place to start, but one has to wonder what will happen if Knevel can’t keep the job due to performance.

Zach Hannon: Another Junior from the Kansas City area, Hannon didn’t play one snap last year, and only played on the Punt team, being a shield for Sam Foltz. For being a all-state selection in the state of Missouri in his Senior year, we should expect more from Hannon. He was nowhere to be found in the two-deep before the Foster Farms Bowl last year, and like Knevel, there’s talent coming up behind him.

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Do you agree or disagree? Who else would you put on? Talk about it in the comments.