Top 40 Huskers for 2017: 11-15

Robin Washut, Senior Writer
Husker Online

Voting Criteria: Player's importance to the team in 2017, talent and potential for the upcoming season. A player's long term/NFL potential was not taken into consideration.

Voting Panel: Publisher Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com staff Robin Washut, Nate Clouse, Gregg Peterson, and HOL interns Matt Reynoldson and David Eickholt.

15. Lamar Jackson, CB, So.

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Nate Clouse

Lamar Jackson's role on Nebraska's defense was already set to make a major jump this season, as his play helped force the issue of moving two-year starting cornerback Joshua Kalu to safety this spring.

But after the news broke that star senior corner Chris Jones would likely be out 4-6 months with a knee injury, Jackson suddenly became one of the most important pieces of the Huskers' secondary.

After seeing immediate playing time as a reserve cornerback and special teams player last year as a true freshman, the former No. 1-rated safety prospect in the country will now be counted on to lock down one side of the field as a starting corner in 2017.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

13th

15th

17th

14th

16th

19th

14. Tanner Farmer, OL, Jr.

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Nate Clouse

Without question the strongest member of Nebraska's offensive line, and maybe the entire team, Tanner Farmer enters his junior season ready to take the next step as Nebraska's starting right guard.

An ankle injury helped contribute to a somewhat up-and-down sophomore year for the Highland, Ill., native, but after 11 starts last season Farmer now has the experience to go along with his powerful 6-4, 305-pound frame.

That being said, Farmer still needs to put together a strong fall camp in order to hold off the up-and-coming Boe Wilson for the starting right guard job come the season opener.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

14th

14th

9th

12th

8th

30th

13. Tre Bryant, RB, So.

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Tyler Krecklow

Nebraska ended spring practices with no clear No. 1 running back having emerged from the pack, and it seems right now that the Huskers are primed to enter 2017 with a three-man backfield rotation.

But if there is one player at the position who could eventually evolve into that every-down workhorse running back, it might be Tre Bryant.

The St. Louis native was thrown into the mix right away last year as a true freshman, rushing 43 times for 172 yards and a touchdown while also catching eight passes for 56 yards and a score. His versatility and size could end up being the separating factors as the season goes along.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

15th

13th

10th

16th

13th

15th

T11. Chris Weber, LB, Sr.

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Tyler Krecklow

If there was one player you would tab as the "quarterback" of Nebraska's new 3-4 defense, it would have to be senior inside linebacker Chris Weber.

Not only is he one of the most cerebral defensive players on the team, Weber has also shown to be a natural playmaker on the field. He racked up 49 tackles in just 10 games as a sophomore in 2015, but injuries limited him to just 17 stops as a junior.

Few players have adapted to NU's move to the 3-4 better than Weber, and the fact that he was selected as one of the team's three player representatives for Big Ten Media Days in Chicago says everything you need to know about what his coaches think of him.


Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

11th

10th

14th

13th

12th

11th

T11. Freedom Akinmoladun, DE, Jr.

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Tyler Krecklow

One of the big questions regarding Nebraska's move to a 3-4 defense was who exactly would be the primary sources of pass rushing.

As has been the case the past couple of years, Freedom Akinmoladun's name was one of the first to come up in that discussion.

It remains to see how the change from a four-man front to a three-man front will impact Akinmoladun, who has been at his best utilizing his speed off the edge. While the linebackers will likely take on a bigger role in that regard, Akinmoladun remains NU's best and most proven edge rusher.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

12th

11th

12th

10th

15th

9th

Previous rankings

No. 36-40

No. 31-35

No. 26-30

No. 21-25

No. 16-20

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