Bo Pelini Looks to Fill Key Holes in Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Defensive Secondary

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ coaching staff has been particularly fortunate this year in terms of weather.  Weather seems like something that would be a football point of discussion for game planning in most instances.  In 2013, a bright spot for the Cornhusker coaching staff has been the fact that they have missed some very cold days at home in Lincoln, while they were on the road recruiting the next crop of young Huskers.  The coaching staff also missed out on some good weather days as they had already taken off for their bowl game against the Georgia Bulldogs.  Of course, the good weather at home in Lincoln still pales in comparison to the weather that Bo Pelini and his coaching staff are enjoying in the Sunshine State.

The Husker defensive line developed greatly throughout the 2013 season and have added key contributors in this recruiting cycle and the Huskers seem to be set up front.  The questions for the Huskers’ defense start about five yards behind the line of scrimmage where the linebackers roam.  The questions further extend to the secondary where the Huskers will be asked to fill the roles left empty due to successful careers that will most definitely culminate in draft selections for Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean Baptiste.

For the linebackers, Edwin Freeman is the key member the Huskers are drastically trying to obtain for next season.  Freeman has been a highly recruited linebacker from the football hotbed of Texas.  The Texas A&M Aggies may be a likely destination for Freeman.  Freeman will undoubtedly find success whereever he chooses to play his college football.  One draw that Nebraska may offer is its athleticism at the linebacker position.  The benefit to this is that there are no set in stone starters for the Cornhuskers, but the athleticism is there and the individuals in the linebacker meeting room will definitely push one another.  Also, Bo Pelini will put a talented line backing corps on the field together one way or another. It may take him time to find the right group but, when he does, they will be an impactful group of men.

Along with the potential of Freeman, the Huskers have some very promising commitments so far.  Those commits include a 6-foot 230 pound Jaevon Walton, who hails from Louisiana.  Walton has grown up playing against some of the nation’s most talented individuals and can be a key contributor to the defense.

Bo Pelini is known for solid defensive linemen, but the second pillar of his defense may be his secondary.  Coach Pelini puts a lot of responsibility on the smallest guys on his defense, asking them to cover in man-to-man situations very often.  Their secondary is expected to win one-on-one battles.  Behind the linebackers the Huskers have four young men who will be looking to compete immediately for contributing positions on defense.

Byerson Cockrell, a 6-foot-2, 185 pound defensive back, has great size. That is something that is very useful in many situations including those one-on-one battles with big wide receivers.  Luke Gifford, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, is a home state prospect and the Huskers love their Nebraska boys.  Gifford, like Cockrell, has great size that he can use to his advantage.  Joshua Kalu is a young man from Texas who has played top notch high school football, which may make him well suited to play at a younger age than fellow recruits.  Trai Mosley also hails from Texas and like Kalu, could parley his high school experience into early playing time at Nebraska.

The biggest thing the Blackshirts have going for their linebackers and defensive backs is that they are all extremely well-rounded athletic individuals.  Just the kind of people that a good coach will be able to put in situations to succeed.

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