Starting experience: Greg McMullen (26 starts), sr.; Kevin Williams (4), sr.; Freedom Akinmoladun (4), so.; Ross Dzuris (4), sr.; Kevin Maurice (1), sr.
Know their names: Alex Davis, rfr.; Carlos Davis, rfr.; Khalil Davis, rfr.; Daishon Neal, rfr.; Sedrick King, so.; A.J. Natter, jr.; Peyton Newell, so.; Mick Stoltenberg, so.
Leader in the room: McMullen. Listen to Mike Riley. He describes McMullen as someone “getting better all the time — good worker, great leader on this team. I love that guy.”
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound McMullen, playing both end and tackle, finished with 28 tackles last season, with four sacks. He's working at tackle this spring.
“Greg's a man,” Riley said. “He's a guy you can talk to. Get a pulse on the team. He’ll tell you the truth. He gets it. He gets the big picture.”
Riley overheard McMullen talking to new defensive line coach John Parrella.
“He told John, ‘I’ve played end, I’ve played tackle, I’ll play wherever you want me to play,’” Riley said. “Kind of neat.”
We see you: Maurice. Riley likes him a lot. Waiting his turn the past three years, he had 21 tackles, including three for loss, last season while mostly in a reserve role. Expect the 6-3, 300-pound Maurice to start at one of the tackle spots.
Health report: Williams, having received a sixth year, is sitting out the spring with a wrist injury. Riley said he's been cleared for some lifting. Stoltenberg is also out, in the middle of rehab from knee surgery.
Ready to bust out? Riley said he’s hoping twin redshirt freshman tackles Carlos Davis and Khalil Davis will be “viable rotators into the game.”
“Maybe they’ll win a starting job,” Riley said. “If they don’t, we need to have them ready to play.”
Some young guys will get long looks as NU tries to improve its pass rush. Riley first mentioned Akinmoladun, as well as redshirt freshmen Alex Davis and Neal, the Omaha Central graduate.
Regarding Davis and Neal, “I don’t want to go overboard about them right now, but I’m excited,” Riley said. "They might develop into just what we need."