July 29, 2008

WR fall camp preview: New faces will have to step up

The Nebraska football team will open up fall camp in less than a week when they take the practice field on Aug. 4. As the countdown to practice begins, HuskersIllustrated.com will breakdown each position heading into camp with in-depth position analysis. This morning we breakdown the wide receiver position, as the Huskers will be looking to find quarterback Joe Ganz's next big playmakers.

Biggest question: Who will be NU's next receiving threat?

The Huskers may have lost more than most people realize at wide receiver in the departures of Terrence Nunn and Maurice Purify. Nunn, a four-year starter, ended his career as the school's second all-time leading receiver, while Purify accumulated 16 touchdowns in his two seasons at NU. So who will step up as the next go-to receiver? The most logical pick is senior Nate Swift, who has a chance to surpass Nunn in career catches, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards. Senior Todd Peterson could emerge as a top redzone target, as he ranked second on the team in touchdown catches (5) behind Purify last season.

What we know right now: Youth will have to step up

Though Swift (8) and Peterson (2) started a combined 10 games in 2007, the Huskers will be relying heavily on new faces to help pick up the slack in the passing game. Juniors Menelik Holt and Chris Brooks have been in the system for two years already, while sophomore Niles Paul and redshirt freshmen Curenski Gilleylen showed flashes of greatness in spring practice. Junior Wes Cammack and sophomore Will Henry will also be counted on to provide depth.

Fresh fall camp faces: Antonio Bell, Khiry Cooper, Steven Osborne and Tim Marlowe

There are several new faces that could have a significant impact on the Huskers' receiving corps this fall. The problem is that no one knows how many are actually going to be there. With9db]Antonio Bell's[/db] academic status still unknown, the Florida recruit wasn't included on Nebraska's initial roster this season. Khiry Cooper was, but his status is still uncertain as he's contemplating signing with the Anaheim Angels. Cooper has until Aug. 15 to make a decision. The good news is that Steven Osborne and Tim Marlowe are definitely going to be there. Osborne (6-foot-4) provides a nice redzone target, as he caught 10 touchdowns as a senior last year at South Garland (Texas) High. Marlowe was one of the final additions to last season's recruiting class, and brings great speed and athleticism.

Early camp prediction

Look for Swift to be Ganz's No. 1 target from start to finish next year, with Peterson establishing himself as a solid No. 2, especially in the redzone. The rest of the receiving corps will get a break with the help of running back Marlon Lucky, who far and away led the Huskers in every receiving category last year. However, don't be surprised if Paul makes a serious push on Peterson for playing time at the Y receiver spot. If Cooper decides to stay, he could make an immediate impact. Oh, and I guarantee Gilleylen has at least one touchdown catch of at least 60 yards, if not a couple. Mark it down.

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