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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Eleven Blackshirts Was Enough

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Brett Baker
One of the things that I love about college football is the history and traditions that make each program special. Among my favorites are Ohio State's Buckeye helmet decals, Michigan's winged helmets and Texas A&M’s "12th Man.”
However, the Blackshirts are at the top. I love explaining the history and the meaning to opposing fans and what it represents, or at least what it used to represent. It used to represent excellence and exclusivity. For years, only the starting eleven were granted the honor. Those days appear to be gone.
Under Pelini’s reign there have been some changes to the tradition that haven't set well with many fans, most noticeably the number of Blackshirts that are handed out when they eventually are. This year, the number was anywhere from 16 to 20. Nobody really knows for sure.
I understand the argument that the defense is more specialized now than it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. There may be 15 guys that start regularly depending on the game's opening package. I comprehend it, but when it comes to handing out Blackshirts, I don't buy it.
With that in mind let’s have a look at a true Blackshirt team where only the Huskers’ top eleven defenders will get the coveted garment.
In alphabetical order:
Defensive end Jason Ankrah - Playing opposite Cam Meredith, it has to be tough to draw attention, but Ankrah has more than held up his end (pardon the pun).
Linebacker Will Compton - As the 2011 season wore on, the better Compton played. After recovering from an early ankle injury, he was as stout and dependable as anyone on the defensive unit.
Defensive lineman Jared Crick - Knocked out with a season-ending injury against Ohio State, this future NFL first-rounder maintained a presence on the sidelines and remained an emotional leader.
Linebacker Lavonte David - If it made any sense, I'd give him two or three Blackshirts. His effort was so high that it seemed like that many Davids needed to be on the field to equal his productivity.
Defensive back Alfonzo Dennard - Out from under the sizable shadow that was cast by Prince Amukamara, Dennard was a force to be reckoned with after bouncing back from early injury.
Defensive back Andrew Green - With Dennard out for the first three games of the season, a large amount of pressure fell on Green's shoulders. He struggled early on, but eventually got his feet under him and became a valuable member of the secondary.
Kicking specialist Brett Maher - Breaking with tradition for this one. Alex Henery should have been a Blackshirt for his last three seasons and so should Maher for his first. He was an absolute weapon punting the ball.
Defensive end Cameron Meredith - By any measure his motor and intensity were an integral part of this year’s defensive unit. His non-stop energy could always be counted on for a memorable play or two.
Defensive lineman Terrance Moore - Thrust into the starting lineup due to Crick’s injury, Moore held his own and then some.
Defensive back Daimion Stafford - With a booming hit in the season's opening game, Stafford announced to the world that he was a big hitter who was ready for the prime time.
Defensive lineman Baker Steinkuhler - As stout as they come. The Steinkuhler name has meant a lot to Nebraska football and the junior defender has only begun to add to the family's legacy.
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