Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher was discussing his top five or so cornerbacks Monday when a new name surfaced in the conversation.
Fisher perhaps surprised a few folks when he mentioned true freshman Braxton Clark as a prime contender for immediate playing time.
"He's just made a lot of plays on the ball," the coach said as the final week of preseason camp commenced in advance of the Sept. 1 opener against Akron. "If Braxton's not leading in interceptions (this month), he's probably tied. He's done a good job this camp of putting his hands on the ball."
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Clark, a graduate of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida, "obviously has to continue with his strength and conditioning," Fisher said. Even so, Clark has positioned himself among the top five or six corners, joining fellow freshman Cam Taylor, juniors Lamar Jackson and Eric Lee, and sophomores Dicaprio Bootle and Tony Butler.
Meanwhile, junior-college transfer Will Jackson is struggling to learn the playbook, Fisher said.
"It's like younger guys versus older guys in the (cornerback meeting) room, if you get what I'm saying," the coach said. "It's not first team versus second team. It's some younger guys who just got here versus some guys who've been here. Those younger guys who just got here are in the mix to play."
Taylor, a star quarterback in high school in Alabama, has made a quick transition to his new position. In fact, the 6-foot, 205-pounder has created the loudest buzz among true freshman defenders in camp, although Clark is now in that conversation as well.
"He's had to fight," Fisher said of Clark. "He's had to put them up in practice a couple times. He had to get jacked up by some older guys and had to get off that block. That's what we're looking for. We're looking for guys who approach practice like that."
Fisher said competition for spots is heated.
"If you saw the first group out there today, it might not be the first group on game day," Fisher said. "I feel like, as a group, those top four or five guys, I'm going to have a lot of confidence in those guys when they step on the field for the first game.
"We have four or five days left (in preseason camp), so it's still going down to the wire," he added.
But Clark clearly is in thick of the chase. Fisher didn't even rule out the possibility of him becoming a starter this season.
"Hey, if he's preparing like one, I see him as being one," the coach said. "If he don't prepare like one, I don't see him as being one. It depends on Braxton."