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July 8, 2011

Key Huskers: No. 11 Austin Cassidy

As the dog days of summer continue, HuskerOnline.com is introducing a new series breaking down Nebraska's top 15 players on the roster heading into 2011.

In our first installment of "Key Huskers," we take a look at safety Austin Cassidy and where he stands heading into the 2011 season.

Cassidy's strengths

It's been a steady climb for Cassidy ever since joining the NU program as a walk-on in 2007.

Cassidy broke on as a special team's player in 2009 and took over the starting safety job for the final seven games of 2010.

What Cassidy brings to the table is a solid knowledge of head coach Bo Pelini's defense and you very rarely see him in the wrong spot or make a costly mental error. His only major mistake in 2010 came when he got beat over the top by Landry Jones in the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma for a touchdown.

What he still needs to prove

Cassidy now needs to prove he can be a leader of Nebraska's secondary, as he will be one of the veterans Pelini is going to count on this season.

The Big Ten will also offer new challenges for Cassidy, which will really test him physically compared to what he saw in the Big 12.

Most memorable play or moment

Clearly Cassidy's most memorable moment came in the overtime win at Iowa State when he returned an interception for a touchdown that helped NU escape Ames with a 31-30 victory.

This was just Cassidy's second start and his instinctive play showed everybody why Pelini decided to insert him into the starting line-up. Cassidy also recorded a career-high 12 tackles that day as well.

2011 outlook

Cassidy, along with juniors Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith will be Nebraska's top three safeties this fall.

Cassidy should continue to grow this year as he becomes more and more comfortable as a starter in the Husker defense.

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