football Edit

Spring grade out: Cornerback

Nja4nyuyp5gvu9zejyfa
Chris Jones (pictured) and Joshua Kalu give NU two top-flight cornerbacks. But who will step up behind them?
Tyler Krecklow

We wrap up our spring grade outs today by giving our final take on the cornerback position, which features two of the Big Ten's best in Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones.

What we learned: Kalu, Jones could be stars in the making

It's not as if it was any secret that juniors Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones were Nebraska's top two cornerbacks heading into spring practice.

But the way in which they both clearly separated themselves as the best of the bunch was one of the more pleasant developments for the Huskers.

Kalu was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection last season, racking up 75 tackles total tackles and a team-high 51 solo stops, five tackles for loss, a sack, three interceptions and seven pass breakups.

Jones played in all 13 games with seven starts and finished with 25 tackles (21 of those were solo) while adding two interceptions, five breakups, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Both players picked up right where they left off this spring, and even though Jones had to miss the spring game with an infection in his leg, there is no question who the Huskers' top two cornerbacks will be come September.

Biggest spring concern: Where will the depth come from?

As good as Kalu and Jones looked, there are still some notable issues Nebraska needs to address at the cornerback position going into fall camp.

The lack of established depth behind the starters was a concern even before spring ball began, and it was as glaring as ever during the Red-White game when NU only had four scholarship corners at its disposal with Jones out.

One of those four was senior Charles Jackson, who moved back from safety this spring to help add another body at the position.

Redshirt freshman Eric Lee and junior Boaz Joseph handled the bulk of the No. 2 reps by the end of the spring, but neither did enough to lock up a spot in the rotation. That should make things very interesting when some talented new faces join the mix this fall.

Spring surprise: Charles Jackson still in the mix

Since the day he verbally committed to Nebraska as the No. 1 ranked cornerback in the 2011 class, it has been a series of one frustrating and disappointing setback after another that have kept Jackson from fulfilling his sky-high potential.

Now in his fifth and final year in the program, Jackson has still managing to keep his name in the mix coming out of spring practice.

From a talent standpoint, there's never been a question of whether Jackson was good enough to make an impact for the Huskers. But constant injuries seemingly every season have essentially made him a non-factor for NU's defense.

If he can stay healthy, the former four-star prospect from Klein, Texas, has a legitimate chance to earn a place in the cornerback rotation after moving back from safety. There's no doubt many will be rooting for him to do so in his last chance as a Husker.

Looking ahead: Help is on the way

Nebraska's numbers at cornerback were razor thin this spring, but that will certainly change when fall camp rolls around and a cast of talented incoming freshmen join the mix.

The most notable addition will be four-star Lamar Jackson from Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin, who will have as good of a chance of any true freshman to see the field right away in 2016. He was ranked the No. 1 safety prospect in the country coming out of high school, but Jackson will start his NU career at corner.

The Huskers will also start out another four-star safety prospect at cornerback in Marquel Dismuke of Calabasas, Calif. Dismuke was ranked the No. 16 safety in the 2016 class, but like Jackson, he has the speed and athleticism to potentially flourish on the outside.

The third 2016 addition will be Miami (Fla.) Southridge three-star DiCaprio Bootle, who was one of NU's more notable finds during its rounds of satellite camps last summer.