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NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Predicting the Blackshirts – Strongside Defensive End

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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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 into the crystal ball and see what's to come for the 2011 Blackshirt unit.
Strongside Defensive End
Many felt that junior Josh Williams would grow into this position naturally. He possesses the frame to excel at 6’4” 290 pounds. Last year’s starter, Pierre Allen, checked in at 6’5” 265 pounds having all the same tools. Williams may have 25 pounds on the departed Allen, but he lacks the recognition and strength of his predecessor.
Sophomore Jason Ankrah came in as a raw but promising prospect, but hasn’t seemed to progress much. All hope isn’t lost for the Maryland native, though. He’ll need to get some meaningful snaps during the entire year if he's going to succeed as a junior and senior. His size nearly matches that of Allen’s at 6’4” 265 pounds and if he can fine-tune his physicality, he and Nebraska’s SAM or MIKE linebacker could make hay.
The largest roadblock between these two and a Blackshirt is incoming JUCO transfer Joseph Carter. As we’ve learned during Pelini’s tenure, Bo doesn’t recruit players out of junior college to sit on the bench. The bad news gets worse for Ankrah and Williams as Carter has shown everything that they haven't thus far.
At 6’5” 250 pounds, Carter has a nose for the football similar to WILL linebacker LaVonte David. That’s not to say that he’ll be setting a single-season tackle record, but he’s disruptive from the snap. Once he adapts to the speed of FBS football, keeping him away from ball carriers and out of the pocket is going to be a chore.
His speed, vision and agility will all be his vital assets as he acclimates to Pelini’s defense. As the season wears on and Nebraska meets their first few Big Ten foes, Carter shows the promise to break out and steal the spotlight from both Williams and Ankrah permanently.
Projected Blackshirt: Joseph Carter
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