January 26, 2007

Year in review: Wide receiver/tight end

The wide receiver position at Nebraska received a major boost in 2006 from the play of junior college transfer Maurice Purify.

The 6-foot-4 Purify gave the Huskers a much needed physical presence to their wide receiver unit, plus the experience of veterans Terrence Nunn, Nate Swift, Todd Peterson and Frantz Hardy all showed. In all, the Huskers had nine receivers that had 12 catches or more.

However, 2007 could really be the breakout year for the NU wide receivers, considering the fact all of their top contributors return.

Tight end continues to be somewhat of a mystery in the Nebraska offense, but the position has made great strides under the leadership of Shawn Watson. Early on in 2006, the tight ends played a big factor in the passing game, but during the key Big 12 games they didn't have much of a role.

The NU tight ends caught 35 balls for 336 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2006. That number was significantly better than the 22 catches for 145 yards and no touchdowns they had in 2005.

Senior Matt Herian's return to the line-up definitely helped, but it was obvious he was no the same player he once was. This will continue to be a position that gets better in 2007.

The high points

How could you not start with Herian's opening game performance against Louisiana Tech. After sitting out nearly two years with a broken leg, Herian busted out on the scene against Tech by scoring the first touchdown of the season for the Huskers. Herian went on to lead the Huskers in receiving that day with three catches for 61 yards.

Another high point in 2006 for the wide receivers and tight ends was Hardy's performance against Kansas. The 6-foot Hardy had three catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

In that game Hardy had touchdown catches of 75 and 78 yards. His fourth quarter touchdown from Zac Taylor came at a key moment in the game when the NU offense desperately needed life. If Hardy doesn't make his fourth quarter touchdown, the Huskers probably would've lost this game.

Finally, the last high point for the wide receiver position was Purify's last second touchdown catch from Taylor at Texas A&M. This was the play of the year for Nebraska and it put the Huskers in their first Big 12 championship game since 1999.

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