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Redshirting the class of 2017

Nebraska is in unfamiliar territory when it comes to redshirting players this season. For the first time in a long while, the Big Red has a plethora of talented true freshmen who could provide an immediate impact.

Not all can play due to simple logistics, but redshirting everyone would be a crime. Let’s have a look at who has the best chance to wear red both physically and metaphorically this season.

Likely to Play

Fullback Ben Miles: It’s hard to see Miles passing Luke McNitt for the No. 1 spot at fullback. It’s also difficult to see him not being utilized as both a running and receiving option. Expect him to get plenty of action on special teams thanks to his propensity to lay a lick.

Wide Receiver Tyjon Lindsey: Considering how the wide receiver corps not only lacks experienced depth but also needs as many elite players as necessary, Lindsey is one of the most obvious picks. He has improved considerably over the course of fall camp and while it’s unlikely he will start, seeing him complement Stanley Morgan, Jr., De’Mornay Pierson-El and J.D. Spielman is as much of a lock at this point as you can get.

Defensive Lineman Deontre Thomas: When Mick Stoltenberg was waiting to be cleared of anything that would point to a concussion, Thomas had the opportunity to step in at nose tackle. He has impressed. He has given starting center Cole Conrad all he can handle. He even has offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh singing his praises. While Cavanaugh has been frustrated with his line at times, he has said that going against Thomas has been helpful due to Thomas’ strength and ability.

Defensive Lineman Damion Daniels: He hasn’t been quite as impressive as Thomas, but still showed that he has the ability to be one of the best defensive linemen available. Fortunately, John Parrella has put in such good work developing this unit that he has the luxury of skipping what might normally be an obvious redshirt year for the new No. 93.

Linebacker Avery Roberts: Simply a gifted athlete, he will likely back up senior Chris Weber at the WILL spot. Roberts is a violent defender who has a knack for sniffing out the ball carrier — a perfect fit for the interior of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense. A sure tackler, he sheds blocks well and could make the All-Big Ten Freshman Team depending on how much time he gets.

50/50

Quarterback Tristan Gebbia: Exactly what’s happening behind Tanner Lee is unknown as of this writing, but it’s safe to say that the worst-case scenario for Gebbia will be much like Patrick O’Brien’s true freshman season. Gebbia will travel with the team — should he be needed, he’s ready to go. That said, the later in the season it gets, the less likely it is that his redshirt will be pulled. However, that may change depending on what heights this team could still reach at the time.

Running Back Jaylin Bradley: Tre Bryant, Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo will all certainly get carries this year, but don’t count out Bradley. Considering his impressive footwork and vision for such a young back, it’s not the wildest idea to think he can become the fourth head on the Husker Hydra at running back.

Offensive Tackle Brenden Jaimes: Nebraska fans didn’t know what their team was getting in Jaimes. Nick Gates will get the start, but should anything happen to him, he has a capable backup in the true left tackle from Austin, Tex. No doubt he’ll have a hiccup here and there, especially against some of the better edge rushers in the conference. However, if he was called into duty, he has every athletic tool to do Lake Travis High School proud.

Outside Shot

Linebacker Guy Thomas: As it stands, Alex Davis and Sedrick King are getting the lion’s share of snaps at CAT, but if things get sloppy, there’s potential for Thomas to show what he can do. That said, Diaco may be more interested in getting him a year of development and simply making do with what he has at the position.

To comment or keep up with the author, follow Brandon on twitter at @eightlaces

A member of the Football Writers Association of America, Brandon has spent over a decade reporting on and researching college football, both the sport itself and recruiting.

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