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July 15, 2011

Key Huskers: No. 6 Kyler Reed

As the dog days of summer continue, HuskerOnline.com is introducing a new series breaking down Nebraska's top-15 players on the roster heading into 2011.

In today's installment of Key Huskers, we take a look at tight end Kyler Reed and where he stands entering the start of fall camp.

Reed's strengths

Junior Kyler Reed could very well be as important of a piece to his team's passing game then as tight end in the country. Reed is just as dangerous split out wide as a receiver as he is on the line, and he set a tight end school record for touchdown catches in a season with eight and finished third on the team with 22 receptions for 395 yards. Reed's average of 18.0 yards per catch also led the team, as he had four touchdowns of at least 33 yards along with six catches good for at least 20 yards.

Having already proven himself as one of the Huskers' most dangerous deep receiving threats, Reed's role could get even bigger under new offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who has a knack for getting the most out of versatile offensive weapons. Look for Reed to once again be on the receiving end of a number of big plays this season.

What he still needs to prove

For as good of a receiver as Reed may be, he leaves some to be desired as a blocker. At just 6-3, 230, Reed is well undersized compared to the more traditional tight ends around the country, especially those in the Big Ten Conference. While he can still deliver solid crack back and cut blocks, he doesn't offer the same type of power on the edge as a bigger player would at his position.

The good news is Nebraska has that big, physical tight end in Ben Cotton. In most situations, Cotton will be in the game when the Huskers want to establish a power running game, while Reed will handle the bulk of the true passing situations. However, it would certainly be nice if Reed could establish himself as more of a blocker to better disguise NU's personnel packages.

Most memorable play or moment

Quarterback Taylor Martinez stole the show in Nebraska's throttling of Kansas State last season in Manhattan, but it was Reed who helped pull off the biggest play of the night. With the game already well in hand late in the third quarter, Martinez hit a wide-open Reed deep across the middle for a 79-yard touchdown pass to give the Huskers a 38-6 lead.

The play marked Nebraska's longest touchdown pass since 2003, and at the moment showed the Huskers' were more than just an explosive running team. Of course, Reed also had touchdown catches of 33, 41, 40 and 29 yards on the year, and his scoring grab in the Holiday Bowl loss to Washington was one of NU's lone highlights.

2011 outlook

Reed might not take anyone by surprise this year with his big play ability, but what teams won't be able to prepare for is how he will be used in Beck's new offense. Reed provides the perfect weapon in Nebraska's new fast-paced and aggressive approach, and he may just have scratched the surface of his potential last season.

So long as he can prove to be a serviceable run blocker and not have to be taken in and out of the game based on personnel packages, Reed could emerge as one of the most dangerous tight ends in college football in 2011.

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