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As Nebraska preseason camp approaches, Husker Extra is counting down the 30 most intriguing players on the roster.

A couple of notes: This isn’t best player or most important. As a list based on intrigue, it skews a bit toward youth and new players, but there will be plenty of established contributors, too.

The only scholarship player not considered for the list is defensive lineman Jahkeem Green, because at the outset of our countdown he is still in junior college and is only verbally bound to Nebraska.

No. 24: Austin Allen, TE, sophomore

Draw up a list of positions that expect a big year-over-year improvement for Nebraska, and tight end is probably near the top.

Allen, the Aurora native, is a big reason why. He and fellow sophomore Kurt Rafdal had modest numbers last year but also showed big-play ability. That’s what they’ll be counted on for this fall.

Junior Jack Stoll is the room’s leader, redshirt freshman Katerian Legrone seems to have a bright future and Rutgers transfer Travis Vokolek is the wild card.

Allen has taken to the new coaching staff and embraced the need to improve his route-running and explosiveness as a receiver. He provides such a big target at 6-foot-8 for sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, it’s easy to believe that he’ll be much more involved in Year 2 in Scott Frost’s offense after just two catches in 2018.

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Allen is part of a group that will end up playing with — and competing against — each other for a long time, as the Huskers can return all of its room again in 2020. You get the sense, though, that somebody is going to break out this fall and become the go-to option among Sean Beckton’s group.

Is it Allen?

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

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Sports writer

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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