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July 20, 2011As the dog days of summer continue, HuskerOnline.com is introducing a new series breaking down Nebraska's top-15 players on the roster heading into 2011.
In today's installment of Key Huskers, we take a look at cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and where he stands entering the start of fall camp.
There may not be a more explosive athlete on the team than Dennard. Heading into the Big Ten Conference Dennard is regarded by most experts as the best defensive back in the league.
Over the last three years Dennard has gotten his feet wet by facing off against some of the best wide receivers in the country and he has the potential to contend for several top defensive honors in 2011.
What he still needs to prove
Dennard needs to prove he can be "the man" in 2011 for NU in the secondary. Dennard no longer has the supporting cast of NFL draft picks Prince Amukamara, DeJon Gomes and Eric Hagg to go around him.
Dennard will now be the focal point of this secondary and he needs to emerge as one of the leaders of this Blackshirt defense that figures to be the best in the Big Ten.
Most memorable play or moment
In an early season road test at Washington, Nebraska's defense had given up some big plays against the Huskies and the game was still 35-21 in the third quarter.
That all changed when running back Roy Helu busted out a 65 yard touchdown and Dennard returned an interception off Jake Locker for a 31 yard touchdown. In a matter of seconds the game went from 35-21 to 49-21.
Dennard is such an explosive athlete that when he gets the ball in his hands he has the ability to take it the distance every time. Dennard also came up with clutch interceptions in the second half in both the South Dakota State and Kansas games.
The Big Ten will offer some different challenges for Dennard and the rest of Nebraska's secondary. The league will feature more big-bodied possession receivers vs. the some of the high profile names NU has squared off against in the Big 12.
Dennard is regarded as a first round draft pick and the top defensive back prospect in the league. Those are some major expectations, but Dennard has the ability to meet them.