Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 10.26.13

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell hauls in a pass in front of Minnesota's Eric Murray (31) in first-quarter action on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. 

With Nebraska's first spring practice set for Saturday, our daily position group primer rolls along with the focus on the wide receivers and tight ends.

Returning starting experience: Kenny Bell (37 games), Cethan Carter (6), Jamal Turner (4), Sam Burtch (2), Jordan Westerkamp (1), Sam Cotton (1).

The skinny: The statistics stick out as much as Kenny Bell's popular 'fro. Put all the numbers of Nebraska's wide receivers together and find that 242 passes have been caught between them. Bell has caught 134 of those, meaning he has 26 more receptions in his Husker career than all the other receivers combined.

But it is the response of those other receivers who are fighting for reps that is most interesting as this spring begins.

As always, there will be the Jamal Turner watch. Coming off an injury-hampered season where he caught just 13 of his 60 career receptions, can he put it all together in a now-or-never season?

Turner will have to bring the fight to the field each day because hungry youth is just as eager to leave its mark, namely Jordan Westerkamp, who caught 20 passes last season and has a chemistry with fellow sophomore Tommy Armstrong.

Other interesting storylines include whether Taariq Allen can climb into a leading role on the depth chart, now hopefully recovered from his brutal ACL injury from the 2012 season. And while Alonzo Moore is out for the spring with a shoulder injury, players such as Sam Burtch, Brandon Reilly and Tyler Evans all will see an opening to make some noise.

In particular, keep track of the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Burtch, who had 12 catches for 127 yards and three touchdowns. His size and walk-on background bring to mind a successful in-state receiver of yesteryear — Todd Peterson.

Tight end is full on potential but needs to find more production. Leading candidates are Cethan Carter and Sam Cotton, who played prominent roles as freshmen. But don't dismiss other names such as Greg Hart, Trey Foster and David Sutton.

Carter no doubt learned plenty from his first season on the job, catching 10 passes and starting six games as a true freshman. But with everyone in the room a sophomore or younger, no one should be considered a lock.

Spotlighting: Bell. The senior has 1,901 receiving yards in his career. That's third-most in Husker history. Tack on 579 more — Bell had 577 as a junior — and he'll surpass Johnny Rodgers atop the list.

Don't forget: Kevin Gladney. There was some buzz in August that the 6-1, 185-pound wide receiver might work his way into some game snaps as a true freshman. It didn't happen. But the fact there was even a thought about him not redshirting tells you Gladney has something coaches like.

Newcomer watch: Hart. Like Gladney, Hart is another prospect out of Ohio stepping out of the shadows after a redshirt season. The 6-5, 230-pound tight end apparently earned some respect working on the scout team. He was the first name mentioned by former Husker defensive end Jason Ankrah when asked about young players to watch.

​Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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