Nebraska Football: 5 Huskers Who Must Excel During Winter Conditioning

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5 Huskers Who Must Excel During Winter Conditioning

five huskers
Eric Francis-Getty Images

Some college football fans have begun their hibernation until March or April at the earliest. In the meantime, all of the Heisman and public relations campaigns being planned across the nation mean nothing if work isn't being put in right now.

How badly a team wants to excel come the fall is determined when the winter chill blankets...Atlanta, GA? Now you know how the Nebraska Cornhuskers feel! There's a foot of snow on the ground one day, and then it's 70 and sunny the next!

Regardless of the weather, the Huskers have been taking to the Ndamukong Suh Strength and Conditioning Center (the weight room's official title). Head strength coach James Dobson has his hands full this offseason. He has plenty of question marks to begin chiseling into more acceptable punctuation for Nebraska's coaching staff.

There's finally depth at offensive line, a defense that could be salty enough to compete for the Big Ten West division title and yet another Heisman hopeful in Ameer Abdullah (no, fans are not about to listen to you, Bovada).

If Dobson can do his part to give offensive line coach John Garrison a full compliment to choose from, Abdullah's odds to run even further into Husker history increase.

These are fantastic goals, but it all begins now. As muscles tear and rebuild, when barriers are broken, as ice tubs become the players' best friends. Championships are won and lost when the casual fan isn't looking.

Let's review which five Huskers Dobson must ensure make the most of their potential during the (sometimes) frigid temperatures that the Midwest brings.

Brandon Cavanaugh is a Big 10 writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @eightlaces, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Ameer Abdullah

ameer abdullah
Eric Francis-Getty Images

Abdullah is perhaps the most legitimate Heisman contender Nebraska's had since a healthy Taylor Martinez, but injuries derailed that train quickly. In fact, Rex Burkhead and Martinez – both senior leaders of the past two seasons – were injured early into their last year at Nebraska. Anyone have plenty of wood to knock on in Lincoln, NE?

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4. Vincent Valentine

vincent valentine nebraska
Eric Francis-Getty Images

Upon Big Vince's arrival, it was obvious he had all the tools to be a special defensive lineman. By the end of the 2013 season, it was clear that the buzz about him was legitimate. He could very well be one of the key pieces of Bo Pelini's defense during the upcoming season. A leaner, meaner, faster Valentine means big trouble for opposing offensive linemen.

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3. Tommy Armstrong Jr.

tommy armstrong
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not No. 4 is the starter against Florida Atlantic, he needs to be polished enough even if Johnny Stanton is taking first-string snaps. Whether a healthy leader or a backup that provides a nearly seamless rhythm to offensive coordinator Tim Beck's offense, Armstrong can't slip even in the weight room.

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2. Jake Cotton

jake cotton
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Big Red's best offensive linemen heading into the 2014 season, Cotton will likely take up one of the starting guard spots. He'll be looked to for reliable output much like Spencer Long was last year before injury cut his senior season short. Can the Huskers just get a shipment of firewood to knock on during the Tunnel Walk?

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1. Alex Lewis

alex lewis
James Snook – USA TODAY Sports

Lewis was named a Pac-12 honorable mention offensive lineman in 2012 and again, I point to the need for quality offensive linemen to not only help Abdullah get his yards. A young quarterback will need an extra second or two. The Huskers' offensive line should be reliable enough to expect that.

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