April 16, 2010

Your complete breakdown of the White squad

For the third year in a row, the Nebraska football team conducted a draft to pick the squads for this weekend's Red-White game in Lincoln.

HuskersIllustrated.com will break down the strengths and weaknesses of the Red and White squads leading into Saturday's Red-White game. Here, we have a complete breakdown of the White squad. Arguably a more defensive-oriented roster, the White team will be led by senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.


WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT THE WHITE OFFENSE

The White team definitely has a leg up as far as experience goes offensively, as it has players with starting experience at every single skill position. Leading the way will be sophomore quarterback Cody Green, senior running back Roy Helu, senior wide receiver Niles Paul and senior tight end/wide receiver Mike McNeill.

However, the offensive line won't have nearly as many familiar faces. Junior center Mike Caputo is the lone early projected starter on the line, and senior tackle D.J. Jones is the only other lineman who has seen significant playing time.

The offense is arguably the strength of the White squad, as it also features a slew of promising young players who could be poised for breakout spring performances. In particular, guys like sophomore running back Dontrayevous Robinson and sophomore wide out Antonio Bell could get plenty of chances to make some plays after the more experienced players head to the sideline later in the game.

Also, considering that senior Latravis Washington and redshirt freshman Ron Kellogg III - who is playing for both the Red and White teams - are the other quarterbacks on the roster, Green will get plenty of work early on.

WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT THE WHITE DEFENSE

While the offensive roster made stand out, the White team's defense certainly has its share of stars as well. The strength of the unit it undoubtedly on the defensive line, as junior defensive tackle Jared Crick and senior defensive end Pierre Allen will set the tone up front.

Next to them is junior defensive tackle Terrence Moore, who will be competing for a starting job this fall, and a couple of young talents in redshirt freshman defensive end Jason Ankrah and freshman defensive tackle Jay Guy, who will both be looking to show what they can do.

The secondary also has some star power, as senior DeJon Gomes makes his debut at safety along side fifth-year senior Rickey Thenarse and steadily improving junior Austin Cassidy. Junior Alfonzo Dennard is the only cornerback with real experience, but guys like junior Anthony Blue and redshirt freshman Dijon Washington should be capable of holding their own.

Linebacker is a little more shaky, as sophomore Sean Fisher - who recently had his Buck linebacker position removed from the base package - is the lone experienced player. However, the unit has at least two players who will be looking to prove themselves in sophomore Alonzo Whaley and senior Thomas Grove.

SLEEPER ON THE WHITE OFFENSE

My sleeper, if you can really call him that, has to be Robinson. The discussion at running back this spring has primarily focused around Helu and sophomore Rex Burkhead, but Robinson has had as good of a spring as any back on the roster. Along with adding more than 20 pounds of muscle this off-season, Robinson has greatly improved his vision with the football as well has his speed and agility in the open field. I expect the coaches to use Helu sparingly on Saturday, which means Robinson will the workhorse for the bulk of the first half.

SLEEPER ON THE WHITE DEFENSE

The guy I want to see the most on the White defense is Ankrah. This is a guy who physically looked NFL ready when he first stepped on campus last year as a true freshman, and now with a full year of experience under the Pelinis' tutelage, the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder is poised to start doing some big things. Playing along side Allen and Crick will obviously help his cause on Saturday, and I expect him to make at least a couple big time plays in the spring game.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE WHITE

Aside from a few positions, the White squad definitely has the advantage as far as star power is concerned. Green will have plenty of weapons at his disposal, and the backfield is pretty loaded with Helu and Robinson. The offensive line is a bit questionable, but the good news is NU's two best defensive lineman are wearing the same color jersey.

With Nebraska planning on keeping the game plan pretty simple, the White team will have a nice advantage if it can find a way to run the football effectively and throw in a few big plays from guys like Paul and McNeill.

PROJECTED WHITE OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART

Quarterback
Cody Green (6-4, 225), So.
Latravis Washington, (6-3, 230), Sr.
Ron Kellogg III, (6-1, 210), RFr.

Running back
Roy Helu (6-0, 220), Sr.
Dontrayevous Robinson (6-1, 230), So.
Collins Okafor (6-1, 225), So.

Fullback
Mike Hays (6-1, 235), Jr.
C.J. Zimmerer (6-0, 230), RFr.


Wide Receiver
Niles Paul (6-1, 220), Sr.
Mike McNeill (6-4, 235), Sr.
Antonio Bell (6-2, 190), So.
KC Hyland (6-6, 210), So.
Nick Failla (5-10, 185), So.

Tight end
Dreu Young (6-4, 255), Sr.
Mike McNeill (6-4, 235), Sr.
Mychael McClure (6-5, 245), So.
Jake Long (6-4, 235), RFr.

Offensive line starters
LT - Jeremiah Sirles (6-6, 310), RFr.
LG - Nick Ash (6-5, 275), RFr.
C - Mike Caputo (6-1, 275), Jr.
RG - Brandon Thompson (6-6, 290), So.
RT - D.J. Jones (6-5, 310), Sr.

Offensive line reserves
Seung Hoon Choi (6-2, 295), So.
Brian Thorson (6-3, 285), So.
Spencer Long (6-4, 285), RFr.
Brodrick Nickens (6-5, 285), RFr.

PROJECTED WHITE DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART

Defensive End
Pierre Allen (6-5, 265), Sr.
Jason Ankrah (6-4, 260), RFr.
Kevin Thomsen (6-2, 240), Jr.
Conor McDermott (6-2, 255), So.
Tyrone Fahie (6-3, 255), Sr.

Defensive Tackle
Jared Crick (6-6, 285), Jr.
Terrence Moore (6-3, 285), Jr.
Jay Guy (6-1, 305), Fr.
Justin Jackson (6-3, 270), So.

Linebacker
WLB - Alonzo Whaley (6-1, 225), So.
MLB - Sean Fisher (6-6, 235), So.
Peso/Nickel - Austin Cassidy (6-1, 210), Jr.

Reserve linebackers
Thomas Grove (6-2, 225), Sr.
Mitch Hron (6-2, 230) RFr.
Matt Manninger (6-1, 200), So.
Devin Paulsen (6-2, 215), RFr.

Cornerback
Alfonzo Dennard (5-10, 195), Jr.
Anthony Blue (5-10, 185), Jr.
Jase Dean (6-0, 190), So.
Wil Richards (5-11, 195), RFr.

Safety
DeJon Gomes (6-2, 200), Sr.
Rickey Thenarse (6-0, 215), Sr.
Courtney Osborne (6-3, 200), So.
Dijon Washington (6-0, 185), RFr.
Adam Watson (6-0, 185), Sr.

Special Teams
Kicker - Adi Kunalic (6-0, 190), Sr.
Punter/Kicker - Brett Maher (6-0, 170), So., Jon Damkroger (6-1, 190), Jr.
Long Snapper - Sam Meginnis (6-2, 220), RFr.

Coaching staff
Shawn Watson, offensive coordinator
Barney Cotton, offensive line coach
John Papuchis, defensive ends/special teams coach
Marvin Sanders, defensive backs coach
Curt Baldus, offensive graduate assistant

Not expected to play
WR - Ty Kildow (5-7, 175), RFr.
QB - Zac Lee (6-2, 215), Sr.
WR - Khiry Cooper (6-2, 195), So.
WR - Joe Broekemeier (6-4, 210), Sr.
CB - Andrew Green (6-0, 190), RFr.
CB - Lance Thorell (6-1, 200), Jr.
LB - Matt Holt (6-0, 200), So.
LB - Mathew May (6-1, 215), Jr.
CB - Justin Blatchford (6-1, 200), So.
LB - Micah Kreikemeier (6-3, 222), So.
OL - Jermarcus Hardrick (6-7, 320), Jr.
OL - Mike Smith (6-6, 285), Sr.
OL - Colin Kanne (6-4, 280), RFr.
OL - Ricky Henry (6-4, 305), Sr.
TE - J.T. Kerr (6-4, 240), RFr.

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