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July 4, 2011

Key Huskers: No. 15 Eric Martin

As 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 our first installment of "Key Huskers," we take a look at defensive end Eric Martin and where he stands heading into the 2011 season.

Martin's strengths

There may not be a player on the entire Nebraska football team with a better motor than Martin. The 6-foot-2, 260 pound Martin has made the move from linebacker to defensive end this season to hopefully give the Huskers another pass rusher off the edge to compliment Cameron Meredith.

On special teams, Martin was one of the premier kick coverage players in the Big 12, constantly blowing up the wedge or making a key open field tackles inside the 20 yard line.

What he still needs to prove

Martin now needs to prove he can be an every down player. He's been NU's best special teams contributor the last two seasons, but wasn't able to crack the rotation at linebacker in the pass happy Big 12.

Martin no longer needs to worry about keeping his weight down and he can play in the 260's this season at defensive end. Martin had a monster spring at his new position and appears poised to win a starting job.

Most memorable play or moment

Martin's been in a lot of big plays on special teams dating back to his blocked punt at Baylor in 2009 that led to a touchdown.

However, no play was more controversial than the bone crushing hit Martin laid to Oklahoma State defensive end Andrew Hudson that landed him a one-game suspension from Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe.

Martin's suspension by the commissioner was a hot button issue for many Husker fans, as conspiracy theories ran rampant. Some also felt that ESPN announcer Ed Cunningham played a hand in the suspension by publically lashing Martin on national television broadcast during the entire injury timeout. It didn't help Martin's case when he was shown laughing on the sideline and taunting Hudson after the hit.

2011 outlook

Martin left the spring as arguably the No. 1 defensive end opposite of Meredith. The question now is can he take that next step in his career and become an every down player?

The potential is definitely there for Martin to be a star in head coach Bo Pelini's defense. It would not be surprising at all to see Martin have anywhere from six to eight sacks in 2011.

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