Top 40 Huskers for 2017: 26-30

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.

30. Michael Decker, C, So.

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Nate Clouse

Omaha native Michael Decker committed to Nebraska in 2015 as a three-star prospect ranked the No. 2 player in the state, so expectations have been high for him since the beginning.

After seeing primarily only special teams action last year as a redshirt freshman, the door was opened for him to make a big jump towards securing the No. 1 center spot following the departure of Dylan Utter.

Decker still has work to do for that to happen, though, as the Huskers opted to move tackle Cole Conrad inside to center this spring and now many feel Conrad is the frontrunner for the starting job.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

27th

40th

N/A

29th

28th

23rd

T28. Caleb Lightbourn, P, So.

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Tyler Krecklow

Maybe no player in all of college football was put in a more difficult situation to start his career than what Caleb Lightbourn had to go through last season as a true freshman.

After originally planning to redshirt, Lightbourn was thrust into the starting punter spot following the tragic death of Sam Foltz just before the start of fall camp.

Having to try and replace one of the best punters in the country and most beloved players on the team, Lightbourn had a rollercoaster first year. He ended up averaging 39.7 yards on 65 punts, while downing 21 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

26th

35th

27th

27th

30th

40th

T28. Marcus Newby, LB, Sr.

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Tyler Krecklow

It seems as if Marcus Newby has spent his entire career at Nebraska trying to find his place, and his upcoming senior year will once again be another big adjustment.

A former four-star recruit, Newby has been used as an outside linebacker and a rush end at points over the past three seasons, and now he's in line to be the No. 1 boundary linebacker in NU's new 3-4 defense.

Newby will have to continue to hold off Luke Gifford this fall in order to remain the starter, but he put together a solid spring and will provide the Huskers with both pass rushing and coverage skills.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

18th

23rd

16th

18th

19th

22nd

27. Mohamed Barry, LB, So.

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Tyler Krecklow

Few players have seemed to benefit from Nebraska's move to the 3-4 than Mohamed Barry.

After being somewhat lost in the shuffle the past two seasons in the Huskers' 4-3 defense, Barry was able to put his natural playmaking skills on full display this spring and is currently working with the second-team defense at inside linebacker.

Having bulked up to 6-1, 230, Barry is as physically ready to make an impact as he's ever been.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

29th

29th

30th

25th

32nd

29th

26. Mikale Wilbon, RB, Jr.

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Tyler Krecklow

Talk of Mikale Wilbon's potential has been swirling prior to each of his first two seasons at Nebraska, but it's never quite panned out.

Working in a crowded backfield last year as a sophomore, Wilbon only managed 89 yards on 15 carries for the season, with 55 of those yards coming in one game at Northwestern.

He'll once again be part of a three-man rotation at running back in 2017 along with Tre Bryant and Devine Ozigbo, but Wilbon certainly has the skills to be a unique weapon in certain packages.

Ranking breakdown

Sean

Robin

Nate

Gregg

Matt

David

22nd

27th

31st

28th

26th

28th

Previous rankings

No. 36-40

No. 31-35

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