Men In Black
The men in black are back. Husker Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis announced that seven Husker defenders were awarded the coveted Blackshirt jersey before practice on Wednesday.
“We decided that some of the veteran guys, some of the leaders, have done a tremendous job in helping some of our younger guys on our defense come along, and their effort on the field and their attitude and work in the meeting group.” Papuchis said, “Part of being a Blackshirt is being defined by your work ethic and your attention to detail and your leadership you bring to the team.”
Upfront seniors Jason Ankrah and Thad Randle were selected as defensive lineman in the Blackshirt group. Ankrah has started 18 games over the past two seasons, including the final seven games of 2012 and will be a vital player on the defensive side of the ball.
Randle, a defensive tackle, will also be looked upon as a key player that could help solidify the Husker front four. Randle has fought through multiple injuries in his career, but was a bright spot for NU during 2012, playing in 13 games, including six starts. Randle recorded 21 total tackles, 10 of which were unassisted with two quarterback hurries.
Sophomore David Santos was the only linebacker selected to wear the prestigious Blackshirt jersey. Santos, the likely starter at Mike linebacker, recorded 24 total tackles last season as a freshman, 11 of which were unassisted, with two tackles for loss. It will be crucial for Santos to lead the young linebacker corps during the 2013 season.
Three cornerbacks were selected to be Blackshirts; seniors Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans, as well as junior Josh Mitchell. Much has been said about the stout secondary Nebraska returns in 2013, and these three are leaders of the group, all with potential to play at the next level.
After switching from wide receiver to cornerback in 2011, Jean-Baptiste has settled in well to his new position, recording 24 total tackles in 2012, with nine PBU and two interceptions, one for a touchdown (Minnesota).
Nickel back Ciante Evans will look to lead the Blackshirt group from the secondary in 2013, Evans a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2012 by CBS and ESPN should have another tremendous season in store, being a potential All-American selection.
Evans returns after starting 12 games last year for NU, recording 56 total tackles, 38 of which were unassisted. Evans also recorded one interception in 2012.
Junior Josh Mitchell will look to continue to build on his already strong career at Nebraska during 2013. The undersized but vicious cornerback will be among the leaders of the secondary in 2013, after compiling 34 total tackles, 23 of which were unassisted.
Last but certainly not least, one safety was selected to wear the Blackshirt jersey as well, with junior Corey Cooper getting the nod. Cooper, a Maywood, Ill., product recorded 17 total tackles last season, but will likely see his production levels come up during 2013 as he is expected to start for NU.
The Blackshirts being handed out was not the only noteworthy news to come out of practice Wednesday. Running back coach Ron Brown announced that true freshman running back Adam Taylor of Katy, Texas is expected to redshirt during the 2013 football season. The decision to redshirt Taylor allows him to get more acclimated to the challenges Division I football presents.
Nebraska will continue preparations Thursday as the team moves closer to its season opener. NU will face Wyoming on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. CST.