Instant reaction: What does Jones' injury mean for the Huskers?

Robin Washut, Senior Writer
Husker Online
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Tyler Krecklow

Nebraska was dealt some devastating news on Saturday when it was announced that star cornerback Chris Jones, the most decorated player on NU's defense, would have to miss the next 4-6 months following surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee.

The loss will obviously affect the Huskers in a number of ways as they head into the start of fall camp in a couple weeks. Here are three of the biggest impacts of Jones' injury...

Will Joshua Kalu move back to cornerback?

Nebraska made a surprising position change during the spring when it moved two-year starting cornerback Joshua Kalu to safety in an effort to get the 11 best players on the field at once.

With Jones now out of the picture for the foreseeable future, will the Huskers opt to move the player with the most cornerback experience on the roster back to his old position?

While it seems like an obvious solution, it should be noted that defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and the assistants in the secondary all loved the fit of Kalu at safety.

Not only did it give a veteran presence at the position with a cornerback background, it allowed the senior to better utilize his tackling ability, one of his better skills.

Nebraska has more returning depth at safety than it does at corner, so it may be a case where Kalu moves back to his former spot purely due to the numbers.

Will others be able to step up and fill the void?

Depending on what Nebraska ultimately decides to do with Kalu, there will be a ripple effect through the rest of the secondary in one way or another.

Assuming Kalu does go back to corner, that would seemingly open the door for someone like senior Kieron Williams, who led NU with five interceptions last season, to step back into the starting lineup at safety.

Williams appeared to have fallen back on the safety depth chart after Kalu's position change, but there's no denying his experience and proven production would make him one of the top choices to replace Kalu.

Then there's the scenario of the Huskers' opting to keep Kalu at safety. That could create a golden opportunity for one of the backup cornerbacks - say guys like Eric Lee or Dicaprio Bootle - to rise up into a starting role.

Lee really flipped a switch with his play this spring and had emerged as the frontrunner at the No. 1 nickel spot. New cornerbacks coach Donté Williams had nothing but praise for the former four-star recruit, and he could allow NU to keep Kalu at safety.

Lamar Jackson becomes more important than ever

Aside from Kalu maybe being a better fit as a safety, another primary impetus for the change was the rapid ascension of sophomore cornerback Lamar Jackson.

A heralded former four-star prospect who was regarded as one of the top overall high school defensive backs in the country, Jackson definitely forced the issue of moving Kalu with his play last season and on into the spring.

Even if Kalu does return to cornerback, Jackson's importance becomes greater than ever with Jones' injury. Despite his recruiting profile, the fact that he's a true sophomore with only one career start means opposing offenses will go after him early and often this season.

Nebraska desperately needs Jackson to become the type of player it knows he can be in a hurry.

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