Fall camp is underway, and it’s been too stale lately. There hasn’t been any new recruits since Joshua Moore, and all we’ve been hearing about this season from “experts” is Nebraska is going to go 6-6 or 7-5.
The question we all have is the hype we’ve made as a fanbase just being biased, or is there truth to what we believe. If you’re someone who is pessimistic about this season I’ll give you five players to be excited about, and who could be the difference between a 6-6 record compared to a 10-2 season.
Tanner Lee: Tanner Lee has the potential to become the next great quarterback at Nebraska. At Tulane he started 19 games, and threw for over 3,000 yards. The big question mark with Lee is his completion percentage and interception count. He only completed 54% of his passes and he only had two interceptions less than touchdowns, 23-21.
However, the hype for Tanner Lee is already reaching a point where if he doesn’t succeed in the first couple of games the fanbase will be unhappy. Everyone is excited because scouts have said he’s a potential first round QB. The general consensus of the fanbase is that he’s NFL bound if he has a breakout season. If Tanner Lee isn’t someone that will get you excited for this season, I don’t know what will.
De’Mornay Pierson-El: Probably the most electric player on this team, Pierson-El has had some bad luck as a Husker. As a freshman he was a standout, but some ball security issues plagued him as the season came to a close. He finished 2014 with 596 yards on punt returns, which led the nation. As a receiver he caught 23 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns. Before his sophomore season started he suffered a foot injury that put him out until the Illinois game. He was in a limited role throughout most of October, but his season came to an end during the Purdue game on Halloween.
He was celebrating with his teammates and went down and wasn’t able to leave the field under his own power. He finished 2015 with 12 receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown. As a junior he showed signs of explosiveness, but still seemed a little held back by the fear of getting injured again. Pierson-El has a decent season, which was close to his freshman numbers, catching 20 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown. Husker Nation hopes Pierson-El can return to his dynamic playmaking days of his freshman year. Mike Riley has said in the past that he believes Pierson-El is finally at full speed, and it would be a huge help to the team if that was the case.
Avery Roberts: It would be very easy to sit here and talk up everyone in the 2017 recruiting class, but Avery Roberts might be the player that makes the most impact this year. Roberts reminds me of Lavonte David in many ways, but the most important is that he is he’s always near the ball. We got to see glimpses of this during the spring game. He’s a guy who has the opportunity to come in and be a star within his first year or two. The big question about Roberts is his health. He was in a walking boot earlier this summer, but coach Riley said that there’s a chance he’s out of it during fall camp. Hopefully we get to see him out on the field this year, but I wouldn’t be opposed to see him get redshirted and have four more years of eligibility.
Carlos Davis: Nebraska has been looking for the next Ndamukong Suh since his departure after the 2009 season. When Mike Riley took over it was huge that he was able to keep the Davis twins committed. This year is when Carlos Davis needs to step up, especially since last year he showed signs of becoming a force on the Defensive Line. He finished the 2016 season with 24 tackles, 11 of them were solo. It’s no secret that with Bob Diaco’s new 3-4 scheme defensive lineman won’t be getting a many numbers, but with Carlos Davis moving to defensive end there’s still a potential for him to make a huge impact.
Tre Bryant: Nebraska fans were spoiled when we got to watch Ameer Abdullah run up and down the field on opponents from 2011-2014. Ameer was a guy who we got to see growth in every single year. It seems like all of his hair from his dreadlocks went into his biceps by his senior year. My hope is that Tre Bryant turns out to be the next Ameer Abdullah. They are both small backs, but run very well. Bryant showed flashes as a true freshman last year, and if he keeps improving he’ll be the number one back going forward. Bryant carried the ball 43 times for 172 yards with one touchdown, and he caught eight passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. It’s going to be very interesting to see if Bryant can grow like Ameer, and become a standout back. The next three seasons with him are going to be very fun.