Nebraska vs. Purdue, 10.12.13 (copy)

Bo Pelini went with all seniors, which is fairly normal practice, in picking who accompanies him to Big Ten media days in Chicago.

Certainly not worth over-the-top analysis -- media people tend to get more fired up about media days than the general population methinks -- the only matter of slight interest is that junior defensive end Randy Gregory is not one of the three.

Obviously Gregory is a high-profile dude not just in the Big Ten, but nationally in 2014. On Thursday, he was named to yet another watch list -- the Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation's best defensive player.

Gregory is one of ten Big Ten defenders on the watch list, including fellow defensive ends Joey Bosa (Ohio State), Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State) and Frank Clark (Michigan).

While the junior Calhoun -- who beat out Gregory last year for Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year -- will be in Chicago at media days, NU's star defensive end won't.

To that, I say no biggie, although it means now not being able to put an over-under line on how many times Gregory is asked how much he weighs.

Yeah, Gregory would be a big draw among reporters. And those who haven't interviewed him would likely immediately be charmed by his easygoing nature. But No. 44 is going to get his attention regardless this season. And the truth is there is so much noise at events like these -- 56 roundtable discussions going on at once -- that much of it tends to cancel itself out to the general public.

All three of NU's attendees make sense. Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell are clear picks. And the safety Corey Cooper, who led the team in tackles last year with 91, is a good spokesperson for the NU defense for a variety of reasons.

For one, he probably knows the defense, and the responsibilities of everyone involved, better than any player in the system. Add to it that he is in his fifth year in the program. Add to it that he is from the Chicago area. It's a well-earned trip.

Cooper doesn't talk more than he has to, but when he does, there is value to his words.

And as he said in the aftermath of Nebraska's Gator Bowl win: “I’m ready for that leadership role. I really don’t have a choice. I’m going to lead, step up and do what I have to do.”

A coach can also sometimes bring a player to something like this under the belief that the player is undervalued by those who vote on things like All-Big Ten teams.

Ciante Evans, who Pelini brought to Chicago last year, was a player the Husker coach felt didn't get enough credit as it came to postseason votes. You could make a similar case that Cooper, who was honorable mention a season ago, could have received a little more recognition for all-conference teams in 2013.

For all these reasons, Cooper's a good man to join the traveling party.

And somehow I think Gregory, despite staying home this time, will have more than enough words written and said about him over the year ahead.

Reach the writer at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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