By Brandon Cavanaugh
A Bo Pelini-led defense is salty and vicious. Only a select few can call themselves starters and are rewarded by being part of a Nebraska tradition that spans over four decades. A simple black practice jersey denotes some of the nastiest young men in the country. We look at the into the crystal ball and see what's to come for the 2011 Blackshirt unit.
Weakside Defensive End
Junior Cam Meredith is known for a few things: Being a skilled outdoorsman, the ability to grow a fine moustache and wearing a Blackshirt since the start of 2010. He came into his own last year posting career highs in both tackles (10) and tackles for loss (eight) during Nebraska’s slugfest with Iowa State. He finished the season with 64 tackles, (34 solo), eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries.
Meredith’s career-long momentum appears to be building towards something special. At 6’4” 260 pounds, he has the physical tools to do massive damage in Bo Pelini’s scheme. He can get rough with Big Ten linemen and he also has the opportunity to perfect a quickness that can leave their heads spinning. There’s only one other name that you’ll see at this spot on a regular basis when Meredith’s resting or Pelini’s not trying to get quality reps for younger players – Eric Martin.
Many fans have asked why Martin’s name hasn’t come up more often during discussion of starters at either defensive end position. During the Red-White Spring Game, he delivered absolutely devastating hits that made the crowd groan in sympathy for his targets. Have no fear, because he’s going to be used as a very special type of weapon.
Martin lives by the big hit and in a conference full of pocket passers, a 6’2” 255-pound missile can do critical damage. When you see No. 46 on the field for Nebraska, you can bet that he’s headed straight for the quarterback.
Even if Meredith had more competition for the weakside spot, he’d still likely win out due to his progress thus far. Regardless, he’ll be wearing a black practice jersey for the second straight year. Don’t discount the idea of Martin getting a nod of recognition later in the year if several opposing quarterbacks end up as stains on the turf.
Projected Blackshirt: Cameron Meredith
Other Predicted Starters: Strongside Defensive End, Strongside Defensive Tackle, Weakside Defensive Tackle
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