Ask a couple of veteran Huskers which young guys behind the curtain are impressing and you get some similar answers.

"The twins," Maliek Collins said. "They quick as s---."

"I think the twins, for sure," Kevin Maurice said. "Just doing drills with them, helping them getting lined up and with their technique, they'll be pretty good."

The twins would be true freshman defensive linemen Carlos and Khalil Davis. Both are redshirting this season.

There's another Davis impressing, too. Defensive end Alex Davis. No relation to the twins, but he's caught Maurice's eye too.

All are eager learners. "They're attentive to everything," Maurice said. "Everything you say, they try to latch on to everything."

Maurice tries to be as much a mentor as he possibly can to those young players, even if it wasn't always easy during the season when they are working on the scout team.

"I try to get on them ... start watching film with them, teach them how to watch film and stuff like that," Maurice said.

Some scout-teamers on the other side of the ball that stick out to Collins include offensive linemen Tanner Farmer and Michael Decker. He goes against them all the time in practice.

"Decker, that's a good guy right there," Collins said. "He just goes hard, man. He was little when he first got here. He's been picking up on his weight. I think he's a good center. I think he'll be playing here."

And Farmer? "Tanner, he's always a good matchup. He's a guy that works his ass off. ... I don't know if I've ever met a guy that strong."

Away from the trenches, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp saw plenty of Avery Anderson and Eric Lee while playing against the freshman cornerbacks, who redshirted this year and were on the scout team.

He’s formed a favorable impression of the top two recruits from the state of Colorado in the 2015 class.

“They’re both super-athletic guys and can play the ball well. That’s huge for being a DB,” Westerkamp said. “I don’t know how much more we’ll play against them until we actually get to the bowl site, but I know they’re working hard.

“They got after it. They made us wideouts better. It’s great to have those guys and go against them.”

* MAURICE RISING: It was bad timing. While playing the best football game of his Husker career, picking up a career-high eight tackles against Illinois, Maurice suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss three games.

"It was real tough," Maurice said. "I'd never got hurt before. Coming off that game, you kind of want to build off it and ride that wave. Unfortunately, I got hurt. But I'm back. Everything's good right now. I'm just trying to continue to build on this year."

Maurice feels good as he prepares for the Foster Farms Bowl against UCLA, though. That's important. The junior defensive tackle figures to be a key cog for the Huskers heading into 2016, with his role perhaps increasing even more if Collins and/or Vincent Valentine decide to leave early for the NFL.

Even while missing some games, Maurice has 19 tackles, including three for loss, two forced fumbles and a sack.

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Maurice has a close relationship with Collins. The two came in at the same time and have been roommates.

He credits Collins for helping him push to another level.

"He's real critical on me," Maurice said. "That's kind of the guy over my shoulder, in my ear, every snap, everything like that, kind of critiquing me and everything."

Collins has made it clear in interviews he's one of Maurice's biggest fans.

"It's good someone's noticing, especially a guy like that who's proven around here," Maurice said.

* INJURY CHECK: Husker head coach Mike Riley likes his team's health, though linebackers Dedrick Young and Marcus Newby weren't practicing Friday.

The coach hopes Young is practicing by Monday, with Newby joining in when the Huskers start practices in the Bay Area on Dec. 22.

Wide receiver Alonzo Moore (shoulder) did practice "and did more than I thought he might do," Riley said.

Also a good sign, wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El is no longer on a scooter. He still has a slight limp.

* FAMILIARITY: Nebraska junior tailback Terrell Newby is extremely familiar with UCLA.

A Los Angeles native, Newby was recruited hard by the Bruins. In fact, they were runner-up in his college decision.

Why Nebraska when he could’ve stayed close to home?

“I just liked the atmosphere here,” Newby said Friday. “I wanted a change from back home.”

He said the Bruins were one of his favorite teams to watch as he was growing up 10 minutes south of downtown L.A. Being from the area, he knows a lot of Bruin players — too many to count, he said.

Meanwhile, Newby said his ankle injury — originally suffered Oct. 31 at Purdue and a hindrance the following three games — feels “a lot better.”

* QUOTABLE: "I'm glad we beat them, and then from there we'll wish them well," Riley said when asked about being the only team to beat Michigan State this year. "It's exciting that we won the game. I think it's encouraging in a lot of ways.

"And then it brings some regret to you. It's like, gosh. I feel bad about that. Because we'd like to be consistent enough week to week to win all those games that were close like that. And we could've, should've, would've. So it brings a lot of different feelings."

— Brian Christopherson, Brian Rosenthal and Steven M. Sipple

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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