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August 5, 2011

Fall camp preview: Safety

Heading into fall camp Nebraska returns their top three safeties from a year ago, led by starters Austin Cassidy and Courtney Osborne. In our final fall camp preview, today we breakdown the safety position heading into the start of practice which open up on Saturday.

Biggest question: Taking the next step
At times last year Nebraska's safeties showed a lot of promise. Whether it was senior Austin Cassidy's interception return for a touchdown at Iowa State or Courtney Osborne's bone crushing hit on Blaine Gabbert, NU's starting safety pair came up with big plays. Now the question is with a new secondary coach in Corey Raymond how will Cassidy and Osborne progress in their second season as starters in Bo Pelini's defense.
What we know right now: Experience not lacking
You have to like the top three safeties Nebraska returns in Cassidy and Osborne along with junior P.J. Smith. Before Cassidy and Osborne took over the starting jobs during the Missouri game, Smith started the first seven games of the season with Rickey Thenarse. I think Pelini is going to find a way to get all three of these guys on the field and Smith will be utilized in the nickel and dime packages at safety and Cassidy can come up and play in the nickel or dime corner according to Pelini.
Fresh fall camp faces: Daimion Stafford
Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini called junior college transfer Daimion Stafford one of the hardest hitting players he saw on film last year. Stafford just arrived to campus this week, so there's no question his learning curve will be steep, but Pelini's track record of developing and evaluating JUCO talent speaks for itself. Look for Stafford to get an immediate look for playing time and he too could be utilized in a nickel or dime role this season.
Early camp prediction
Obviously Cassidy and Osborne are the starters, but Smith will see plenty of action as well. I also look for senior Lance Thorell and Stafford to contend for time in the nickel or dime packages. Redshirt freshmen Harvey Jackson an Corey Cooper will also get a good look this August, but more than likely they will begin their Husker careers getting their feet wet on special teams.

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