Nebraska Football: Projecting the Starting 11 on Offense for Spring Practice

After an impressive debut, look for Wan'Dale Robinson to play an even bigger role on offense in 2020

There is little tolerance for hype among Husker Nation this offseason and understandably so. Following a two-year stretch that hasn't seen Nebraska football crack a cumulative double-digit win total, fans are largely taking a page out of the official Missouri state handbook and saying "show me."

 

As the Huskers prepare for a back-loaded 2020 schedule that will test their mettle down the stretch, we review who should man the starting spots once spring practice gets underway.

 

Note: Players referred to as "sleepers" are those who are currently positioned to give starters the biggest challenge over the course of spring ball.

 

Quarterback

 

Starter: Adrian Martinez

 

Despite an error-filled sophomore season, Martinez has proven to be Scott Frost's guy since his initial recruitment. There's no reason he doesn't start — and likely end — spring practice as the No. 1 signal-caller. That said, this spring provides an excellent opportunity for Nebraska to develop quarterback depth it's not seen in a long time.

 

Sleepers: Noah Vedral/Luke McCaffrey/Logan Smothers

 

Running Back

 

Starter: Dedrick Mills

 

There was a point last season where several had written Mills off as another junior college bust. However, he remained focused and ended the season averaging 116 rushing yards per game in Nebraska's final three contests, two of those against teams (Wisconsin, Iowa) that finished in the top 15 of both polls.

 

He can further cement his position as the Huskers' bell cow while setting the table for younger backs to show their wares for a change of pace and to allow him time to rest.

 

Sleeper: Rahmir Johnson

 

Left Tackle

 

Starter: Brendan Jaimes

 

Jaimes plateaued a bit as a junior, but he's a near-lock to hold down this position yet again. His struggles weren't entirely on him, though as a porous interior forced him into positions where he ended up being responsible for two defenders at a time. If offensive line coach Greg Austin can solidify guard play over the course of the offseason, Jaimes should be able to bounce back and have a productive final year.

 

Sleeper: Christian Gaylord

 

Left Guard

 

Starter: Broc Bando

 

Bando played well in relief at guard clearly surpassing the performance of both Trent Hixson and Boe Wilson. This looks to be an intriguing battle with no obvious eventual winner. That said, you have to give the edge to Bando for his live game experience.

 

Sleeper: Ethan Piper

 

Center

 

Starter: Cameron Jurgens

 

The snap problems that plagued Jurgens early after making the switch to offensive line eventually got under control and allowed his confidence to soar. So far, it appears that Frost and his staff made a solid move in shifting the former tight end to the pivot. He's one of the most versatile athletes on the team and should get plenty of experience working with Austin's top units.

 

Sleeper: Will Farniok

 

Right Guard

 

Starter: Matt Farniok

 

This is a move Frost has likely wanted to make for some time and now he finally has the appropriate bodies to pull the trigger. Farniok continued to struggle with defenders slipping inside his left pocket at tackle but has remained a largely tenacious presence. His experience and demeanor lend themselves well to fortifying the Huskers' struggling interior.

 

Sleeper: Matt Sichterman

 

Right Tackle

 

Starter: Bryce Benhart

 

Many were curious to see if Benhart would have the opportunity to follow in Jaimes' footsteps and start as a true freshman. Frost has shown an affinity for redshirts during his first two seasons, so it wasn't a complete shock to see the mammoth Minnesotan take the year to develop. However, he should be more than ready to take over for the older Farniok brother and give the Big Red a legitimate Big Ten tackle to complement Brendan Jaimes.

 

Sleeper: Turner Corcoran

 

Wide Receiver 1

 

Starter: JD Spielman

 

Much like Mills, the story here isn't whether or not Spielman can retain his starting spot, but who can effectively back him up and provide a change of pace. Fortunately, new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick takes over a room brimming with talent.

 

Sleepers: Darien Chase/Jamie Nance

 

Wide Receiver 2

 

Starter: Kade Warner

 

Warner proved himself to be the most effective blocker of Nebraska's wide receivers in 2019. His absence was felt during the five games he wasn't a part of. The Huskers absolutely must find players who are willing to get their hands dirty as often and energetically as Warner does. Doing so not only helps Ryan Held's running backs but gives fellow wideouts the opportunity for more chunk plays.

 

Sleeper: Chris Hickman

 

Tight End

 

Starter: Jack Stoll

 

This is a battle worth watching. Stoll has had his moments, but he's never broken out and been the security blanket Frost needs for his quarterbacks. No tight end truly stood out over the course of the past two seasons which opens the door for a guy who had to sit out last year due to transfer rules to take over the role officially come April.

 

Sleeper: Travis Vokolek

 

Duck-R

 

Starter: Wan'Dale Robinson

 

Again, we have a situation where the starter is well-defined. Robinson proved himself as both a receiving and running threat in 2019, but he and JD Spielman cannot be the only threats this receiving corps offers. Fortunately, the Huskers do have plenty of speed waiting in the wings to assist No. 1 in taking the next step as a weapon for Frost's offense.

 

Sleeper: Demariyon Houston

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and enjoy the Big Red Three and Out Podcast. To contact him, click here.

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