Junior Byerson Cockrell (left) will look to fill the void at nickel back
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

NU Secondary Depth Impressing Papuchis

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln, Neb. – The Nebraska football team continued Fall Camp on Thursday evening with a 75-minute practice at the Ed and Joyanne Gass practice fields outside of the Hawks Championship Center.

After practice, Head Coach Bo Pelini addressed the media briefly, announcing that junior nickel back Charles Jackson will miss the entire 2014 season due to a knee injury suffered this week.

Jackson, a native of Spring, Texas was expected to compete for the starting nickel back job, a key position in the Husker defense.

“For his (Jackson) long term best interest, they are going to fix it, so he will be out for the year,” Pelini said. “Fortunately for Charles, he has a redshirt year so he still has two years left. It is not a horrible injury, it is a very unusual injury.”

Pelini added, “He will come back and be better than ever,” Pelini said. “It was a hard deal for him, he has put in a lot of work in to it, I feel for him right now.”

Besides the injury, Pelini mentioned that there should not be much more change to the defense this fall. Pelini said that, “We are good, I like the way we are lined up right now, we are not going to make any changes.”

Players that are likely to step in to fill the void left by Jackson are junior defensive back Byerson Cockrell of Columbus, Miss., and true freshman Joshua Kalu of Houston, Texas.

Cockrell, a junior college transfer out of East Mississippi CC, joined the program in January. The 6-0, 185-pound Cockrell was impressive throughout spring ball, earning significant action with the top defensive unit.

“I love Byerson Cockrell, he is a really good player,” Pelini said. “He is a very smart and very intelligent football player.”

Defensive coordinator John Papuchis also likes how Cockrell has improved since joining the Huskers this past January.

“He (Cockrell) is a fast learner, he is all business every day that he takes the field, he is trying to get better,” Pelini said. “That has nothing to do with being ‘more in the spotlight’ that is just how he has been since he has gotten here.”

Kalu, a 6-1, 170-pound Houston native made 51 tackles and had four interceptions as a senior at Alief Taylor High School, with three returns for touchdowns. Kalu's play earned him All-Greater Houston first-team honors from the Houston Chronicle, and he was also a first-team all-district selection.

Papuchis talked about the strong play by the five newcomers in the secondary as well, noting that the players are learning very quickly.

“In four days I have been pretty impressed, you can tell they were well-coached in high school,” Papuchis said. “The things that we are coaching and installing, it doesn’t seem like they are hearing it for the first time.”

Nebraska will put on full pads for the first time during the preseason on Friday, and wrap up week one of fall camp with a Saturday practice.

Nebraska fans are reminded about their opportunity to be on hand at Memorial Stadium as the Huskers kick off the 2014 season. Fans can purchase the Cornhusker Kickoff Combo package for the Florida Atlantic game on Aug. 30 and the matchup with McNeese State on Sept. 6. The two-game package can be purchased at Huskers.com for $100. Fans can also purchase single-game tickets to all games other than the Miami and Minnesota games at Huskers.com.



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