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July 4, 2013

Top Husker players for 2013: No. 11-15

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. 15 CB Josh Mitchell Analysis
Elanor Roosevelt HS
Corona, California

Height: 5-11
Weight: 160
Year: Junior

Depth Chart Projection: starting cornerback

2012 Stats: Started eight games, accumulating 29 tackles (two for loss), one sack, five pass breakups and one interception

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: cornerback

Possibly the biggest thing holding Mitchell back is his height - he is generously listed at 5-foot-11. But the cornerback has not let that hold him back too much to this point. He's proven to be Nebraska's best cover corner outside of Ciante Evans and isn't afraid to take on bigger ball carriers and get physical in the run game. Mitchell dislikes the opinion that his size restricts him and held his own in some matchups against taller players last season, most notably 6-foot-8 UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria. But cornerback is a very crowded position and if Mitchell wants to have a starting role, he's going to have to earn it. Newcomer Jonathan Rose and Mohammed Seisay, healthy after an early ankle injury held him back last year, both will vie for playing time.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 26 / Dan Hoppen - No. 21 / Robin Washut- No. 8

No. 14 OG Jake Cotton Analysis
Lincoln Southeast HS
Lincoln, Nebraska

Height: 6-6
Weight: 305
Year: Junior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting left guard

2012 Stats: Played in five games.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Offensive line

Cotton's lack of experience (he's played in just eight games in his career) makes him an unlikely choice for someone this high on the list. But during those moments, Cotton flashed a nasty streak that no other member of the line has displayed up to this point. He has battled injuries throughout his career, but if he stays healthy, the left guard spot appears to be his. Cotton has good size for the position and possesses both the strength and the will power to push defensive tackles around. We have yet to see how the junior will hold up with extended playing time, but at the least he appears capable of replicating Seung Hoon Choi's production last year.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 19 / Dan Hoppen - 18 / Robin Washut - No. 14

No. 13 LB David Santos Analysis
Klein Collins HS
Spring, Texas

Height: 6-0
Weight: 225
Year: Sophomore

Depth Chart Projection: Starting linebacker

2012 Stats: Played in 13 games, including a start against Michigan. Finished with 24 tackles (two for loss) and a forced fumble.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Linebacker

This voting took place before the altercation which ended with Thomas Brown and Ernest Suttles being dismissed from the team. Santos was involved, but it doesn't appear he will be missing any time. Crazy as it sounds, the sophomore returns as NU's most experienced linebacker. The youth of the linebacking corps and the ACL injury that cost Zaire Anderson nearly the entire 2012 season leave Santos as one of the position's leaders. Santos is very athletic and shined in his lone start, recording 10 tackles against Michigan. Though it's unsure where the NU coaches like him most (he practiced at both middle and outside linebacker in the spring), Santos heads into fall camp as a favorite to start.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - 18 / Dan Hoppen - No. 9 / Robin Washut - No. 19

No. 12 CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste Analysis
Fort Scott CC, Westlake Prep HS
Miami, Florida

Height: 6-3
Weight: 220
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting cornberback

2012 Stats: Played in all 14 games, starting five. Recorded 24 tackles, nine pass breakups and an two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: cornerback

Jean-Baptiste is an NFL scout's dream - a tall, athletic cornerback who has the ball skills to be a defensive playmaker. Jean-Baptiste has shown the Huskers flashes of his true potential - now it's a matter of sustaining those flashes of brilliance. He led the team in pass breakups, including five against Northwestern (good for third-most in a game in school history) and his interception against Michigan helped NU seal a much-needed victory over the division-rival Wolverines. If Jean-Baptiste played like that all the time, he would likely be an all-conference candidate with a very real NFL future. But he must work to develop more consistency. His size, athleticism and past life as a wide receiver suggest he's headed for big things.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 13 / Dan Hoppen - No. 15 / Robin Washut - No. 16

No. 11 C Cole Pensick Analysis
Lincoln Northeast HS
Lincoln, NE

Height: 6-2
Weight: 275
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting center

2012 Stats: Played in all 14 games, starting two.

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Offensive line

After losing the staring center gig to Justin Jackson last fall, it appeared as if Pensick's 2012 season would be mostly spent on the sidelines. But Pensick offered to play guard and was splitting reps evenly with Choi until the Iowa game, when Jackson's season-ending injury promoted him to starting center. Pensick may seem a bit small for the position, but he has the tenacity to make up for it and his height gives him leverage over taller players. He held his own against the defensive lines of Wisconsin and Georgia in NU's final two games of the year. If he can keep that effort up for a full season, Pensick will follow Mike Caputo and Jackson as low-hype players who developed into solid centers for Nebraska.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan - No. 11 / Dan Hoppen - No. 12 / Robin Washut - No. 21

If you missed:

No. 16-20

No. 21-25

No. 26-30

No. 31-35

No. 36-40

NEXT UP: Ranking No. 6-10

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