Lincoln, NE - One of the biggest offseason questions for the Huskers has been answered. Nebraska sophomore Jason Ankrah will start at defensive end, opposite of Cameron Meredith. But should the media and fans be really worried about it?
“To me, it doesn't matter who is starting; it is how do I want to use these guys situationally. And those are the snaps they're fighting for,” said defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. “My two top pass rushers are going to be on the field on third and long. My run guys are going to be on the field second and medium and third and short. So it doesn't really matter who's on the field for the first snap. It's how I envision rotation those guys.
“You know, if they want to play in more situations, they have to prove themselves effective in more situations, which is what the depth gives us, more flexibility."
But by all accounts, Ankrah has shown the ability to play in multiple situations this fall. His teammates have noticed a transformation – one that was not just physical, but mentally as well.
"He's starting to learn the game now, and I think that's one of the biggest things playing defensive line. You can be as strong as you want, but if you don't know the techniques, if you don't know what the schemes are and what's being asked of you, you're kind of worthless out there,” said Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jared Crick. “He's come a long way physically, but I think mentally he's learning the game and learning what we want to do as a defense, and especially on the defensive line. I think that's where he made the biggest strides. That's why he's in the position he's in right now. He's worked so hard at that, and he's gotten so much better. If he's going to be out there starting with us, he definitely earned that."
Now a starter, Ankrah isn't going to change anything that helped him get to this position.
“I’m going to stay in my playbook,” Ankrah said. “The season is here already. Camp is over with and it is game week. It’s exciting to be a starter. Last year, I was behind Pierre (Allen) and I knew I would get some playing time, but Pierre was a leader on the defense. He took me under his wing and now I can go out there and I want to show that I can do it.”