Nebraska opens camp Sunday with one of its youngest teams in years. The relative youth and inexperience means that true freshmen — though just on campus — could have a good shot at cracking NU’s depth chart.
What makes a freshman worth watching in camp? The depth in front of him, for one thing, which means quarterback Tristan Gebbia, who impressed coaches and teammates in the spring, may be looking at a redshirt year because of Tanner Lee and Patrick O’Brien. A freshman’s recruiting pedigree has to at least be considered, too; Top 100 prospects don’t generally come to programs like Nebraska’s to redshirt.
So here are freshmen to watch as NU heads into camp, in alphabetical order:
» Nose tackle Damion Daniels: He’s still a kid — he won’t turn 18 until just before the season — with a 310-pound man’s body, so Nebraska may choose to redshirt one of its top recruits. Daniels has a month to flash his potential and push Mick Stoltenberg and Khalil Davis for playing time. Daniels could be special by 2019, so the player he is now may not inform what he can be.
» Kicker Cole Frahm: He’s a walk-on from Omaha Burke, and he’s almost certainly not playing this season so long as Drew Brown stays healthy, but count me as interested in what Frahm, whenever he becomes part of the roster, can do. A soccer player in high school along with a kicker, Frahm has a big leg that, with year-round practice, could turn into something special.
» Wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey: Coach Mike Riley told reporters at Big Ten media days in Chicago that he wants to see NU coaches “push” and challenge Lindsey so he can get on the field early. The top-rated recruit in the 2017 class, Lindsey could be a threat as a receiver and in the kick or punt return game. His short-area quickness should help him shake some average defensive backs.
» Fullback Ben Miles: He’s not likely to push out Luke McNitt from the starting fullback role, but Miles is the odds-on guy to start at fullback after this season. Miles is more versatile than McNitt — he’s a more natural runner — so he could get a carry or two. Look for Miles to be a factor in special teams. You also might have heard of his dad.
» Wide receiver Jaevon McQuitty: He enrolled early and then missed all of spring camp while recovering from shoulder surgery. McQuitty has some of the bigger hands on the team, and a good catch radius for his size, so it’s inevitable that he gets a long look at playing as a true freshman. Ideally, he can give Stanley Morgan a breather or two.
» Linebacker Avery Roberts: A foot injury may slow Roberts during training camp, but he enrolled early and got a jump on the 3-4 defense, and he looked pretty spry during spring camp. Roberts still needs to adjust to the speed of the college game — he missed a few tackles. He’s a thumper, though, with good instincts. He can help on special teams.
» Defensive end Deontre Thomas: At just 280 pounds, Thomas may seem light, but that’s a tightly-packed 280 pounds. Thomas has natural strength, quickness and tenacity to play pretty quickly, and there might be room for him to do so at end, where depth is questionable behind starters Freedom Akinmoladun and Carlos Davis.
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So anyone on the Fullback Kool-aid? Go Big Ben Miles!
Need one or both of the Frosh receivers to make an impact, hopefully Lindsey can make as much of an impact as DPE did his frosh. year
Go Big Red!
Of the 7 mentioned, the kicker seems like the only one not being mentioned during fall camp, the team is young there is a chance that these freshmen will see playing time this year and the best player regardless of age gets on the field.