Nebraska fans were left salivating over what the future may hold for the Huskers at wide receiver after the Spring Game, as a couple electric freshmen put on quite a show in the annual scrimmage. But will those young playmakers be able to step up in time and help senior Brandon Kinnie when the season opens up?
Here's an early look how things might shake out at the wide receiver position when the Huskers open up fall camp in a couple of weeks.
Biggest question: Will the freshmen hold their own?
While it may have been just a glorified scrimmage, true freshman Jamal Turner and redshirt freshman Kenny Bell looked like Nebraska's next stars in waiting after the Red-White game. In particular, Turner had the kind of performance Nebraska fans hadn't seen from a receiver in some time, hauling in four passes for game-high 93 yards, including a 59-yard punt return and a 49-yard touchdown catch. His flare on the field was certainly impressive, especially since he spent the first week of spring ball at quarterback. Bell also looked good in the game, as he had a 23-yard catch and looked as fast as ever as a kick and punt returner. However, the fact remains that both players have yet to play in a single regular season game, meaning they still have to prove they can be just as explosive against live game competition.
What we know right now: Kinnie will lead the way
For as much young and exciting talent Nebraska as at receiver, there's no question that Kinnie is the most consistent and reliable target on the team heading into fall camp. Not only is he the Huskers' most productive returning wide out, he's also established himself as one of the more vocal leaders on the offense. Kinnie has already taken young players like Turner and Bell under his wing this summer, and that leadership will only continue to grow as the team gets into the grind of the season. It's likely that Kinnie will get a lot of attention from opposing defenses, especially until one or two more receivers establish themselves as dependable options in the passing game. Even so, he's shown he can go up and make the tough catch in coverage time and time again, so that won't be an entirely new role for him.
Fresh fall camp faces: Taariq Allen, Daniel Davie
Nebraska will add two more athletic freshmen to its receiving corps this fall when Taariq Allen and Daniel Davie officially join the mix. At 6-3 and almost 200 pounds, Allen brings another big and athletic body to the position and will likely start out at the X receiver behind Kinnie. Davie (6-0, 183) on the other hand is another burner who runs a reported 4.34 40-yard dash and will fit right in with Bell and Turner. It's hard to see either player coming in and contributing right away this season, but both should be competing for playing time within the next couple years.
Early camp prediction
Nebraska doesn't have the luxury of returning much of any experience at receiver this season, but what it lacks in experience it more than makes up for in pure athletic ability. I have little doubt that Turner will settle in eventually and become a star, and Bell will be a nice weapon who could be the most dangerous in the return game. Also, don't forget about guys like Quincy Enunwa, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and even Khiry Cooper as guys who will be counted on play a lot of downs for the Huskers this season. After being thrown into the fire last year as a true freshman, Enunwa could be poised for a big sophomore season.