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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 8, redshirt freshman DL Ty Robinson
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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 8, redshirt freshman DL Ty Robinson

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Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, 11.16

Nebraska defensive lineman Ty Robinson (right) looks on as Husker coach Scott Frost speaks to players during a timeout in the closing moments against Wisconsin on Nov. 19, 2019, at Memorial Stadium.

As the countdown to the beginning of Nebraska’s preseason camp continues, the Journal Star is counting down its annual list of the 30 Most Intriguing Huskers.

The list, as always, is not about the 30 best players or the 30 most important players, but is based instead purely on intrigue. We’ll cover breakout candidates, new faces, old heads and more. The list tends to skew toward youth and inexperience because, well, those types of players are intriguing. But there are more than a few regulars, too.

No. 30: Thomas Fidone, tight end, freshman

No. 29: Will Nixon, wide receiver, freshman

No. 28: Noa Pola-Gates, defensive back, redshirt freshman

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No. 22: Nash Hutmacher, defensive lineman, freshman

No. 21: Heinrich Haarberg, quarterback, freshman

No. 20: Javin Wright, outside linebacker, redshirt freshman

No. 19: Markese Stepp, running back, sophomore

No. 18: Luke Reimer, inside linebacker, sophomore

No. 12: Damion Daniels, defensive lineman, junior

No. 11: Gabe Ervin Jr., running back, freshman

No. 10: Chris Kolarevic, inside linebacker, junior 

No. 9: Jaquez Yant, running back, freshman 

No. 8: Ty Robinson, DL, rfr.

Nebraska is expecting to be strong along the defensive line, and Robinson’s emergence might be one of the single biggest reasons why.

The former four-star recruit, who got his toes wet as a true freshman and then played extensively in every game in 2020, has turned himself into one of the more promising young defensive linemen in the Big Ten.

If a breakout year is on tap for Robinson, he’ll become a much more familiar name around the conference.

At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Robinson has come a long way in filling out his massive frame. That, combined with two years now of learning under defensive line coach Tony Tuioti, leads many to believe that he can be a disruptive force up front for the Blackshirts.

He won’t be counted on to do it alone, considering Nebraska returns virtually all of its production up front and is getting one more year from the group’s leader, super senior Ben Stille. Robinson, Stille, Casey Rogers and Deontre Thomas form the nucleus of defensive ends, though defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also has the option of kicking any of those players inside and using his outside linebackers more like ends, too.

"What we have to prove is that we're still a dominant defense," Robinson said this spring. "I feel like this year in the Big Ten we've set our goals up pretty high for what we want. But I feel like this next season, and what we've seen so far, that we're going to be a pretty dominant defense in the Big Ten. So that's what we've got to prove; we've got to show everyone that we're different from last year."

One way or another, Nebraska taking the next step on defense is going to include Robinson being on the field a lot. He can play on the end or hold the fort in the middle. The next step is about causing more havoc. Robinson finished with 17 tackles (two for loss) and no sacks last fall. If he can push the pocket and disrupt the quarterback regularly, No. 99 could be in for a big jump.

Parker Gabriel

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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