Less than three weeks remain until Nebraska opens spring football practice. We’ve counted down the position groups with most room to improve. This week, it’s the top players to watch in the spring.
You’ll notice this group includes several Cornhuskers with unreached high ceilings. Count the next guy on the list, at No. 4, among that collection of players:
Junior safety Charles Jackson
Why to watch: Because it’s time for Jackson to break through. We’ve heard plenty about the athletic Texan since he signed with Nebraska in 2011. Jackson sat out the 2011 season while working to gain eligibility, primarily played on special teams as a freshman and provided depth at safety last season while again contributing heavily on special teams. With the departure of several key members of the secondary, Jackson’s time to take a big leap is now.
What to watch: Where will the Huskers play him? Part of Jackson’s delay in developing as a difference-maker on defense likely involves the indecision by Nebraska’s coaches in finding a permanent spot for him. And while there’s a temptation to move him to the position most in need -- because Jackson appears capable to fit anywhere in the defensive backfield -- his progress will accelerate if he remains committed to one spot, be it cornerback or safety. The Huskers have a need at both places.
What to expect: Jackson appeared on the verge of making a jump into the Nebraska lineup last season, especially early in the year as the Huskers struggled to find a safety opposite Corey Cooper who could tackle. It never happened, apparently because Jackson couldn’t show the consistency in practice to earn a starting spot. If things fall right for Jackson, this spring can serve as the launching point for him to earn the confidence of new secondary coach Charlton Warren and fit as a major cog amid a group in need of a couple breakout performers.
Countdown of Nebraska players to watch in spring practice: