2016 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Jack Lambert

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2009
Mike Riley enters his second year in charge of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, his calm demeanor a huge switch from the always raving and ranting Bo Pelini. Riley has implemented more of a pro-style offense to the team, eschewing whatever “offense” Pelini installed. However, like Pelini, Riley loves to ignore qualified athletes from the state of Nebraska, unless of course, they play OL or TE. However, Nebraska does keep getting those pesky in-state walk-ons that always seem to “outhustle” and “outwork” the more “talented” out of state recruits on the roster. This does help give Nebraska a couple of extra white players in the rotation each year, even a huge portion of Nebraska’s in-state talent going to Iowa, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and South Dakota.

Getting back to the team, Riley is stuck with Pelini’s QB, Tommy Armstrong, for one more year. He is the definition of a scattershot QB, with two very inconsistent years at the helm. Some games, he looks like a good QB, whereas others, you wonder how he even won the job on his high school team. This inconsistency has cost Nebraska a few games the last two years. His backups will be senior Ryker Fyfe, and freshman Patrick O’Brien, who is Nebraska’s QB of the future right now. In the backfield, junior Luke McNitt will serve as the human battering ram, AKA fullback. Once in a while, McNitt will get to run a route out of the backfield, or get the couple of tough yards up the middle.

Even with Scattershot Armstrong at the helm, the Husker offense should be fun to watch, due to its best two pass catchers both being white men. Brandon Reilly will start at the “X” receiver position. Reilly is one of the fastest guys on the team, and should be Armstrong’s go-to deep threat this year. He averaged nearly 19 yards per catch, the best on the team. Decorated senior Jordan Westerkamp will be the starting slot WR this year. Westerkamp is a beast over the middle, and is quick as a cat; he was by far Nebraska’s most prolific receiver last year, finishing with 65 catches for 918 yards and a team-leading 7 TD receptions. He’s also famous for his behind the back catch at the start of last season. Backups for the WR and TE spots include slot man Gabe Rahn and 6’5 sophomore Bryan Reimers at WR, along with Sam Cotton at TE. Cotton is mostly a blocker, but will get the occasional throw.

The offensive line looks like it will be dominant this year. The one position that I’ve liked Riley’s recruiting besides QB is with the offensive line. He’s gotten a lot of good prospects coming through “The Pipeline” again. Leading them is Left Tackle Nick Gates. Gates is only a sophomore, but he’s got NFL potential when all is said and done. With the injury to upside-laden DJ Foster in fall camp, Sam Hahn, Corey Whitaker, and Boe Wilson are in a battle to start at left guard. The center will be walk-on Dylan Utter, right guard will be Tanner Farmer, another blue chip prospect coming in. Farmer is only a sophomore as well, and should be in the NFL. Backups here include LT Christian Gaylord, Center Michael Decker, and RT Cole Conrad.

On defense, Nebraska will actually have a few white contributors this year. I'll give Riley and defensive staff credit: they've actually taught their players how to tackle and make simple plays, something Pelini had trouble doing in his later years. Despite Riley’s recruiting, there are a few white players who will be starting and in the rotation this year. Mick Stoltenberg is a monster at 6’5 290, and he’ll be starting at one of the defensive tackle spots. The coaches have been raving about how good Stoltenberg can be, and now that he’s finally healthy, he’ll have the chance to prove it. Lunch pail toting walk-on Ross Dzuris will be a starter at DE. Per the course with many Nebraska players, he simply “out-played” his “more-talented” competition; he'll be a steady force at DE. DL backups will include DTs Peyton Newell and Logan Rath, as well as DE AJ Natter.

MLB Josh Banderas found his form under Mark Bankers’ defense last year, and he’s looking for a great year to jump into the NFL. He’s always had the talent to be a great player, and now that he’s healthy, I’m hoping he’s finally able to be the dominant player he can be. Backups at LB to watch out for are walk-on Chris Weber, who should take over for Banderas next year, and SLB Luke Gifford. At safety, Nate Gerry is an absolute stud. He’s hands down the best player in Nebraska’s secondary. In his first couple of years, he was the guy who had to run down opposing RBs, seeing as Pelini’s front seven (most of whom happened to be “upside-laden” wasn’t sure how to tackle. Gerry should cement himself as a 2-3 round pick next year with a great season. A guy to watch for in a couple of years will be S/LB JoJo Domann, who’s an absolute stud.

Since 2005, Nebraska has started 11, 13, 11, 12, 11, 13, 14, 13, 8, 10, and 11 white players. It looks like 11 again this year. To recap, here are Nebraska’s starters:


FB – Luke McNitt

WR(X) – Brandon Reilly

WR(R) – Jordan Westerkamp

LT – Nick Gates

LG – Sam Hahn or Corey Whitaker or Boe Wilson

C – Dylan Utter

RG – Tanner Farmer


DE – Ross Dzuris

DT – Mick Stoltenberg

MLB – Josh Banderas

S – Nate Gerry


Mar 16, 2013
Been enjoying all the write ups(thanks guys) and this one is a doozy. Sat. night eastern time at 8:00 Big Ten network I'll be watching. 2 stud wide outs and a scattershot QB --hell Armstrong better get his act together so Reilly and Westerkamp can fly around the field making big plays!


Hall of Famer
Jul 24, 2007
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