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July 17, 2014

HuskerOnline.com's 2014 Top 40 players: 6-10

Voting Criteria: Player's importance to the team in 2014, 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, HuskerOnline.com staff writer Dan Hoppen, HuskerOnline.com recruiting expert Nate Clouse and HuskerOnline.com video producer Gregg Peterson.

No. 10 LB Zaire Anderson Analysis
Riverside CC/Frankford HS
Philadelphia, Penn.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting WILL linebacker

2013 Stats: 12 games, including 5 starts, 52 tackles (6 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 1 pass breakup

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Linebacker

Anderson was one of the stabilizing forces of what turned from a shaky linebacking corps at the beginning of the year to one of the team's strengths by season's end. One of the Huskers' fastest linebackers, he proved a more than capable blitzer when given the opportunity. The linebackers as a whole come into this season with much more experience, but Anderson seems to be the only sure-fire starter among the group, leaving him with incredible leadership responsibilities both on the field and in the locker room.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan: 7 / Dan Hoppen: 8 / Robin Washut: 6 / Nate Clouse: 14 / Gregg Peterson: 13

No. 9 DT Vincent Valentine Analysis
Edwardsville HS
Edwardsville, Ill.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 320
Year: Sophomore

Depth Chart Projection: Starting defensive tackle

2013 Stats: 13 games, including 6 starts, 21 tackles (5 for loss), 1.0 sack

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Defensive tackle

There is little doubting that Valentine has the potential to be a dominant defensive tackle - it's just a question of when he'll get there. Valentine was a bit inconsistent as his playing time fluctuated in 2013, but his performance against Iowa (five tackles, two for loss, and a sack) showed what he's capable of. The sophomore has the size to control the line of scrimmage, and he's only spent one year on the field. The sky appears to be the limit for Valentine, who has worked hard on his conditioning to prepare for an increased role this year.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan: 11 / Dan Hoppen: 13 / Robin Washut: 9 / Nate Clouse: 8 / Gregg Peterson: 6

No. 8 CB Josh Mitchell Analysis
Elanor Roosevelt HS
Corona, Calif.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 160
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting cornerback

2013 Stats: Played in 13 games, starting 6, 31 tackles (4 for loss), 6 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery

Recent Update:
Ranking the Big Ten: Cornerback

With Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste's graduations, cornerback went from a position of great experience to very little. Mitchell has by far the most game snaps of any cornerback on the roster and will likely shoulder the duties of guarding the opposition's best receiver. Though undersized, Mitchell is feisty and never backs down from a challenge. He's also quickly become one of the team's most vocal leaders. If his play matches his confidence, Nebraska will have no worries about him in 2014.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan: 9 / Dan Hoppen: 7 / Robin Washut: 8 / Nate Clouse: 10 / Gregg Peterson: 5

No. 7 OL Jake Cotton Analysis
Lincoln Southeast HS
Lincoln, Neb.

Height: 6-6
Weight: 305
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting left guard

2013 Stats: Played in and started 11 games

Recent Update:
Spring grade out: Offensive line

Though he battled through injuries, Cotton played very well in his first season as a starter and is now the veteran of the offensive line. With so many senior linemen graduating, Cotton becomes the automatic leader of the group, which shouldn't experience a major drop-off talent-wise in 2014. The senior plays with a mean streak and isn't afraid to get after opponents, though he says he better understands when and how to channel that aggression now. If Cotton stays healthy and performs up to his abilities this year, he could have an NFL career in front of him.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan: 8 / Dan Hoppen: 6 / Robin Washut: 7 / Nate Clouse: 7 / Gregg Peterson: 10

No. 6 S Corey Cooper Analysis
Proviso East HS
Maywood, Ill.

Height: 6-1
Weight: 215
Year: Senior

Depth Chart Projection: Starting safety

2013 Stats: Started all 13 games, 91 tackles (5 for loss), 2.0 sacks, 1 interception

Recent Update:
Ranking the Big Ten: Safety

Cooper is one of the Big Ten's most physical safeties, and is more than willing to come flying into the box to make a hit. He led the Huskers in tackles last season and figures to be, along with Mitchell, the leader of the 2014 secondary. Cooper's play against the pass could use some work (he has one career pass breakup), but he's got great size for the position and likely has an NFL future ahead of him. A strong season could bring some All-Big Ten honors with it.
Voting Rundown: Sean Callahan: 6 / Dan Hoppen: 4 / Robin Washut: 5 / Nate Clouse: 6 / Gregg Peterson: 16

If you missed:

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NEXT UP: Ranking No. 1-5

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