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 today's installment of "Key Huskers," we take a look at wide receiver Brandon Kinnie and where he stands entering the start of fall camp.
Brandon Kinnie is the clear cut leader of Nebraska's receiving corps heading into the 2011 season not only because of his experience, but because of the way he's proved himself on the field the last two years. The lone senior wide out on the roster, Kinnie's blend of size and strength along with his ability to haul in tough passes in traffic make him the most reliable target at the position.
The Kansas City, Mo., native has already established himself as one of the most vocal leaders of the Huskers' offense, which could prove an invaluable asset given the inexperience both at receiver and quarterback. After leading the team with 44 catches last season, Kinnie will once again be counted on to be front and center in NU's passing game this year.
What he still needs to prove
Production wise, there's not a lot Kinnie has left to prove on the field. He was easily Nebraska's most dependable receiver in his first season in the spotlight in 2010, and his 44 grabs ranked eighth on the school's all-time list. However, this will be the first time he'll be the clear No. 1 option in the passing game.
While the Huskers have plenty of potential up-and-coming playmakers at receiver, the fact remains that Kinnie has 45 more career receptions than the rest of NU's wide outs combined. It will be up to him to carry the load at the position early on and prove he can handle being the veteran leader of the unit.
Most memorable play or moment
A week after Nebraska fell flat on its face in a home loss to Texas last season, it was Kinnie who helped provide the spark to lift the Huskers to a huge 51-41 win at No. 17 Oklahoma State. By the end of the day, Kinnie had hauled in his first three career touchdown catches, tying the single-game school record and being the first Husker with three scoring grabs since Maurice Purify in 2007.
He had just three receptions in the win, but Kinnie was responsible for the first and last touchdowns in a game that helped Nebraska bounce back from a devastating loss and take a big step in eventually claiming its second Big 12 North title.
Many people are predicting big things from Kinnie in his final collegiate season, and the stage is definitely set for him to do it. Kinnie is the only receiver with an established chemistry with quarterback Taylor Martinez, and he will undoubtedly be looked to in crucial passing situations.
Kinnie embraced his role as a leader of the offense the moment the final second ticked off the clock of last season's Holiday Bowl, and he will be a great mentor and resource for Nebraska's talented young receivers. He'll likely get more attention from opposing defenses than ever before, but there's no question that Kinnie will be up for the challenge.