Opportunities will be ample in Saturday's Red-White Spring Game.
Highly touted junior college transfer Mohammed Seissay will make his debut at cornerback, while senior safety P.J. Smith will be looking to make a case for a starting job in 2012. Brion Carnes shouldn't be tested by the watered-down, spring game version of the playbook, but you better believe that every fan inside Memorial Stadium will be analyzing every Taylor Martinez throw—critiquing his allegedly improved throwing motion.
But perhaps one of the more intriguing storylines is fullback Mike Marrow, who will put on a Husker uniform for the first time on Saturday.
"Mike is a guy who can do a lot of different things for us," said head coach Bo Pelini on the first day of spring practice. "He'll primarily line up at the fullback spot for us, but he's a big back who can run. He can be a good short-yardage, between-the-tackles type of runner. He's big, he's physical, he's tough."
What better time and place to showcase your talent than in front of 70,000-plus eager fans?
Last year, while running backs Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green were getting reps behind Nebraska's workhorse Rex Burkhead, Marrow was on the scout team waiting to become eligible after transferring from Eastern Michigan.
Marrow was regarded as one of the top fullback prospects in the country following his prep career at Central Catholic High in Holland, Ohio. As a senior, Marrow rushed for 893 yards and 11 touchdowns and received a scholarship from Alabama.
A huge focus for 2012 will be how the Huskers can keep Burkhead from receiving the beatings he endured all last year. Pelini already stated that Green and Abdullah will be taking on a bigger role next fall, but Marrow could be another key element in helping take some of the pressure off Nebraska's star running back.
"I love running behind him because when he does lead block for you, the hole's gonna be there," Abdullah explained enthusiastically. "Man, he's an explosion waiting to happen."
And while blowing open holes will be what he's primarily asked to do, it may not even be his best trait. According to Pelini, "I think there's a lot of different things we can do with him."
"He has a lot of potential," said Abdullah. "He's a very powerful guy, he's very athletic for his size. I've seen him make cuts when he has the ball in his hands that were really surprising for a guy his size."
At 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, Marrow's versatility will certainly be a factor when it comes to naming a replacement for Tyler Legate next season. He will be competing with Omaha Gross graduate C.J. Zimmerer and Lincoln Southwest's Graham Stoddard.
"First thing's first, we need to get him honed up and learning the offense," said Pelini. "He's in really good shape. He's really used the last year and a half well to get himself prepared to play. As long as he stays on the same track that he's on right now, I feel like he's a guy that can really help us out."
- Josh Harvey -