August 6, 2009

Five walk-ons vying for scholarships this fall

While Nebraska has always held a proud tradition of successful walk-on players, the contributions of some recently seem to warrant a bit of reward. When fall camp kicks off on Saturday, several Huskers will be looking to scrap their walk-on statuses and finally get put on scholarship. Today, continues our fall camp previews by looking at some of the walk-ons that could start getting their school paid for by the end of fall camp.

NOTE: Sophomores Mike Caputo and Matt May were not included in the list because walk-ons generally awarded scholarships until at least their junior years.

Alex Henery, K, 6-2, 175, Jr.

Far and away the most obvious candidate to earn a scholarship, Alex Henery has done everything to earn one and more since walking on as a freshman in 2006. His most heroic moment came last season with his late 57-yard field goal to beat Colorado, but Henery has been the model of consistency the past two years. He was a perfect 8-8 on field goals and 45-45 on extra points as a redshirt freshman in '07, and then connected on 18-27 field goals and 56-57 point after attempts last season. Henery is already being regarded as one of the best kickers in the Big 12, and there's even a chance he'll take over as NU's starting punter if no one else proves equally as effective in fall camp. Needless to say, Henery is simply too valuable to not to be placed on scholarship.

Dreu Young, TE, 6-4, 250, Jr.

Nebraska's No. 2 tight end behind the acclaimed Mike McNeill, junior walk-on Dreu Young been more than just a capable backup. Young played in all 13 games last season, including four starts when the Huskers opened up in a multi-tight end set. He finished his sophomore campaign with nine receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown, making him the Huskers' fifth-leading returning receiver. With NU's questions at wide receiver, it will likely look to its tight ends in the passing game even more this year. As a result, Young's role and importance in the offense should only continue to increase.

Colton Koehler, LB, 6-1, 230, Sr.

After injuries hit Nebraska's linebacker corps late last season, walk-on Colton Koehler - a.k.a. "The Junkyard Dog" - was there to fill the void. The Harvard, Neb., native saw action in six games last year, and his play was good enough during that span that the coaching staff decided to give Koehler his first career start in the Gator Bowl. With senior Phillip Dillard's status still in the air, it's likely he'll have an even bigger role this year. Koehler's career thus far has been the storybook tale of a walk-on who's earned his way onto the field solely through hard work and determination. If he continues to contribute like he has been, his story could have a very happy ending.
Derek Meyer, OL, 6-5, 315, Sr.

Fifth-year senior Derek Meyer wasn't always a walk-on. Before coming to Nebraska, Meyer was on scholarship for two years at Kansas State, where he played he played in KSU's first five games as a redshirt freshman in 2006 before missing the rest of the year due to injury. Meyer sat out the past two seasons as per NCAA rules for transferring within the conference, but even without playing a single snap, he has already worked himself into position to compete for the starting right guard spot this fall. Should he end up winning the starting job, Meyer certainly would have put in enough time an effort to make a case for a scholarship.

Wes Cammack, WR, 5-11, 200, Sr.

This one may be kind of a long shot, but considering the depth - or lack thereof - Nebraska has a wide receiver, one could make an argument for senior Wes Cammack. He's played in 26 games the past three seasons, including all 13 last year, working primarily on special teams. He had just one catch last season, but he did finish with nine tackles on NU's coverage units. Assuming his productivity on special teams continues, Cammack could prove to be a valuable asset should he become a factor as a receiver as well.

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