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July 2, 2013

Top Husker players for 2013: No. 16-20

Voting Criteria: Player's importance to the team in 2013, talent and potential for the upcoming season. A player's long term/NFL potential was not taken into consideration.

Voting Panel: HuskerOnline.com publisher Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com senior writer Robin Washut and HuskerOnline.com staff writer Dan Hoppen.

No. 20 TE Jake Long Analysis
Elkhorn HS
Elkhorn, NE

Height: 6-4
Weight: 240
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: starting tight end

2012 Stats: Six receptions, 59 yards, 1 touchdown

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Tight end

Playing time was lean at tight end the past couple of seasons with Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton in the fold, but both are now in NFL camps. That opens the first chance for extensive playing time in Long's career. The senior only saw ten passes come his way last year (including just four in the final ten games), but he caught seven of them and showed soft hands to go with strong blocking. There are a host of young tight ends fighting for playing time, but even Long's limited snaps give him an experience edge over them. Expect Long to win the job out of fall camp and put up solid numbers unless one of the young guns is markedly better than expected.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 14 / Dan Hoppen - No. 23 / Robin Washut- No. 28


No. 19 DT Thad Randle Analysis
North Shore HS
Galena Park, Texas

Height: 6-1
Weight: 290
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting defensive tackle

2012 Stats: Played in 13 games, starting six. Totaled 21 tackles, including one for loss, with a fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Defensive tackle

Randle is entering his fifth year in the program and it's still tough to tell exactly what the Huskers have with him. The poor guy just can't avoid injuries. Randle has battled knee issues the past two seasons and sat out all of spring practice with an injury. He should be healthy in the fall and NU has to hope he stays that way. With the lack of veteran depth at tackle, Nebraska needs Randle to produce. The coaches believe he has the talent to have a big year, but will his knees hold up? The answer to that question could go a long way in determining the strength of the Huskers' run defense in 2013.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 17 / Dan Hoppen - 14 / Robin Washut - No. 30

No. 18 RB Imani Cross Analysis
North Hall HS
Gainesville, Georgia

Height: 6-1
Weight: 225
Year: Sophomore

Depth Chart Projection: Backup running back

2012 Stats: 55 carries, 324 yards (5.9 yards per attempt), seven touchdowns

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Running back

Generally the second-string tailback, especially a hard worker who showed great ability in limited playing time, would be higher on this list. But as much promise as Cross showed, he will face plenty of competition for carries. Ameer Abdullah will rightfully get the lion's share of the rushes and both Adam Taylor and Terrell Newby could see playing time as freshmen. If all four backs play, it's hard to distribute the ball between that many players. The glass-half-full view for Cross? He might have the best work ethic on the team, is a specimen physically and has the mentality to push through adversity instead of pouting.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - 22 / Dan Hoppen - No. 20 / Robin Washut - No. 18

No. 17 DT Aaron Curry Analysis
Fossil Ridge HS
Keller, Texas

Height: 6-1
Weight: 280
Year: Sophomore

Depth Chart Projection: Starting defensive tackle

2012 Stats: Played in four games, recorded three tackles.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Defensive tackle

Curry didn't play after the first four games of last season but as of now has not been awarded a medical redshirt. Curry has good size for the position and will certainly get a look simply because the Huskers have so few proven players at the position. After Randle, Curry will battle with Vincent Valentine, Kevin Williams, Brodrick Nickens and a couple of freshman for playing time. Of that group, only Williams has more playing time than Curry (and not by much). Curry will be given every opportunity to win a starting spot next to Randle.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 12 / Dan Hoppen - No. 34 / Robin Washut - No. 13

No. 16 DE Randy Gregory Analysis
Arizona Western CC, Hamilton Southeastern HS
Fishers, Indiana

Height: 6-6
Weight: 230
Year: Junior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting defensive end

2012 Stats: Missed the entire 2012 season with a broken leg.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Defensive end

Gregory sat out all of last season with a broken leg and is still clearing a few final academic hurdles to get on campus. So why is he ranked so high? Nebraska needs him to pan out in a bad way. The Huskers hardly had a lethal pass rush in 2012 and leading sack artist Eric Martin is gone. With no proven pass rusher on the roster, the Huskers need Gregory, the nation's top JUCO defensive end prospect, to put some pressure on the quarterback this season. As a freshman at Arizona Western CC, Gregory recorded nine sacks and forced three fumbles. Nebraska has to hope the injury didn't rob him of his explosiveness and that he can approach those numbers again in 2013.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 23 / Dan Hoppen - No. 11 / Robin Washut - No. 22

If you missed:

No. 21-25

No. 26-30

No. 31-35

No. 36-40

NEXT UP: Ranking No. 11-15



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