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July 12, 2011

Key Huskers: No. 9 Mike Caputo

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 senior offensive lineman Mike Caputo and where he stands heading into the 2011 season.

Caputo's strengths

Senior Mike Caputo is the definition of a successful walk-on player in the Nebraska football program.

Caputo came to NU with limited recruiting attention and a very undersized frame for Division I offensive lineman. However, Caputo climbed the latter the old fashioned way from the scout team and will now be a two-year starter.

Caputo is one of the strongest players on the entire team, a solid technician and a very good finisher when he gets his hands on a defender. He is also very explosive off the ball, which is what you want to see from a center.

What he still needs to prove

At times Caputo's lack of size hurt him when he faced off against bigger nose tackles. Particularly in the Holiday Bowl when he faced off against Washington's Alameda Ta'amu he really struggled.

The Big Ten is arguably the strongest defensive tackle conference in the country heading into 2011. With players like Michigan's State's Jerel Worthy, Penn State's Devon Still and Ohio State's John Simon, Caputo will see more than his fair share of NFL talent at defensive tackle. He will also have another rematch with Ta'amu to prove himself again.

Most memorable play or moment

During Nebraska's 45-17 win over Colorado, Caputo was battling a knee injury that slowed him for most of the second half of the season.

During the CU game, Caputo went down with an injury and was replaced by Cole Pensick for one play. It was Pensick's only significant snap of the season and he was handled up front and Caputo came in immediately the following play.

The toughness Caputo showed to come back into the game with an injured knee describes his career in a nut shell. Caputo has constantly defied the odds and he did it again by playing the entire second half of the season on a knee that required off-season surgery.

2011 outlook

With a healthy knee and a full-year of starting experience now underneath his belt, Caputo should be the leader of Nebraska's line in 2011.

Offensive line coaches Barney Cotton and John Garrison are really going to lean on Caputo this year to help get NU's offensive line going early.


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