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This decade hasn’t been nice to Nebraska football. The first year of the decade was one of the best, as it ended with a trip to the Big 12 championship. It was also the closest the Huskers would get to winning their conference, as they lead 17-0 early in the second quarter of that game.

The decade ended much differently than it began, as Nebraska finished under .500 for the last three years and four of the last five years. 

While it wasn’t the best decade for Husker football, there were still many standouts and players Husker fans will remember for a long time. Here is the Nebraska football all-decade team:

NOTE: Players who only played one season in this decade were not included (sorry Prince Amukamara).

Offense

QB: Taylor Martinez (2010-2013)

One of the most dynamic, exciting players of the decade, Martinez was a walking highlight reel during his time at Nebraska. His dual threat ability commonly torched defenses, and he finished his Nebraska career with 2,975 rushing yards and 31 rushing scores. Poor passing mechanics hurt him, as did an injury-shortened senior season, but Martinez threw for 7,258 yards and 56 touchdowns anyway.

RB: Ameer Abdullah (2011-2014)

RB: Rex Burkhead (2010-2012)

FB: Andy Janovich (2012-2015)

Picking the backfield was fairly easy as the Huskers had two standouts at running back and one at fullback. There wasn’t much competition for any of them. Abdullah was the best of the bunch and holds many Nebraska records, including being the first Husker ever to have three-straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His best season was his senior year when he ran for 1,611 yards on 264 carries with 19 touchdowns and had one of the most memorable Husker football moments of the decade on a 58-yard, game-winning catch-and-run against McNeese State.

Burkhead will always be loved by Husker fans, as he was a fan favorite for his four years at Nebraska. His numbers were just as impressive, as he finished sixth in career rushing yards and ninth in season rushing yards for his 2011 season.

Janovich makes this list off of the efforts of one season, his senior season. He was one of the best fullbacks in the country as he was versatile in the backfield, running for 265 yards on 42 carries. He also had two receptions for 58 yards. The 2015 season was a lost season for the Huskers, but Janovich was a bright spot on that team.

WR: Kenny Bell (2011-2014)

WR: Stanley Morgan Jr. (2015-2018)

TE: Kyler Reed (2010-2012)

The 2010s ushered in a wealth of riches at wide receiver for Nebraska, with all four of its reception leaders in school history playing this decade. Morgan Jr. tops the charts with 189 receptions for 2,747 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also recorded Nebraska’s first 1,000-yard receiving season last year. Prior to Morgan Jr., Bell set reception and receiving yards records of his own, with 181 receptions for 2,689 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career.

At tight end, Nebraska had a number of solid contributors over the decade, but not one could match Mike McNeill’s 32 receptions in 2008, a school record. Reed’s best season was his sophomore year when he caught 22 passes for 395 yards and eight touchdowns. He didn’t quite reach those heights in either of his final two seasons, but he finished his Nebraska career with 67 receptions for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns.

OT: Alex Lewis (2014-2015)

OT: Jeremiah Sirles (2010-2013)

OG: Spencer Long (2010-2013)

OG: Jerald Foster (2014-2018)

C: Cole Pensick (2010-2013)

Much of Nebraska’s best offensive line play came from the same class, which included Sirles, Long and Pensick. Sirles played in 53 games and made 41 starts at Nebraska, was second team All-Big Ten in 2012 and has now played for four different NFL teams.

Long reached the highest high of any Husker offensive lineman during the 2012 season, when he was named first team All-Big Ten and second team All-American by the Associated Press. He also received second team All-Big Ten honors in 2011 and 2013, and has played six seasons in the NFL. Pensick was a backup for the beginning of his Husker career, but soon made the center position his own, earning second team All-Big Ten honors in 2013.

Beyond that talented group, Lewis was a second team All-Big Ten honoree in 2015, and has played in the NFL with the Ravens and Jets. Foster was a two-year team captain and was named the team’s offensive lineman of the year in 2018.

Defense

DT: Jared Crick (2010-2011)

DT: Maliek Collins (2013-2015)

DE: Randy Gregory (2013-2014)

DE: Cameron Meredith (2010-2012)

This decade just misses having the best defensive lineman of this generation of Nebraska football in Ndamukong Suh, but it is still a pretty solid group. Two of Suh’s teammates, Crick and Meredith, did make this list. Crick headlines this group, as his 2010 season was one of the best of the decade with 73 tackles, 14 ½ tackles for a loss and 9 ½ sacks. Meredith didn’t have one big season, but was a consistent presence all four years with the Huskers.

Gregory and Collins represented the next group of Husker defensive linemen in the Pelini era. Gregory was the more outstanding of the two, as he registered a whopping 16 ½ sacks in his two seasons with the Huskers and had 26 ½ tackles for a loss. For comparison, in four seasons Meredith had 13 ½ sacks and 21 ½ tackles for a loss. That’s not a knock on Meredith, as he was one of the best defensive ends for Nebraska this decade, but it shows how dynamic Gregory was while he was with the Huskers. Collins didn’t have as gaudy numbers, but he was a big run stopper and had an outstanding sophomore season, registering 13 tackles for a loss and 4 ½ sacks.

LB: Lavonte David (2010-2011)

LB: Will Compton (2010-2012)

LB: Mohamed Barry (2015-2019)

David and Compton were easy picks, but there was some hot debate about who the third linebacker should be. In the end, Barry prevailed because his two-year stretch was one of the strongest of the remaining players.

David was arguably the Blackshirt of the decade in his two years with the team. In only two seasons, he had an incredible 285 tackles, 24 ½ tackles for a loss and 11 ½ sacks. For comparison, he has more career tackles than both Compton and Barry. Those two seasons earned him two first-team all-conference nominations and two Second-Team All-American honors from AP. He was also a finalist for the Butkus award for best linebacker in the country in 2011.

Compton filled David’s role during his senior year in 2012 and racked up 110 tackles with 5 ½ tackles for a loss, three sacks and an interception. He earned second-team all-conference honors from coaches that year.

Barry was the last of this group and made it on the back of his strong junior season in 2018 in which he had 112 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and two sacks. He regressed a bit his senior year, but will be remembered for his leadership on teams that at times lacked the motivation needed.

CB: Alfonzo Dennard (2010-2011)

CB: Ciante Evans (2010-2013)

S: Nate Gerry (2013-2016)

S: Daimion Stafford (2011-2012)

One of the best cornerbacks in school history, Dennard had 91 tackles, four interceptions and 13 pass breakups in his career. He was named second team All-Big 12 in 2010, followed by a first team All-Big Ten selection in 2011 along with second team All-American honors from Phil Steele. Evans received first team All-Big Ten honors in both 2012 and 2013, setting a school record with 11 tackles for loss from defensive back in 2013.

A three-year starter at safety, Gerry was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection in 2015 and a second team selection in 2014 and 2016. He also received first team All-American honors from Pro Football Focus for the 2016 season when he finished with 74 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups. Stafford spent just two seasons at Nebraska, but finished both with 80 or more tackles, earning a first team All-Big Ten selection in 2012.

K: Brett Maher (2011-2012)

P: Sam Foltz (2012-2015)

KR/PR: De’Mornay Pierson-El (2014-2017)

If not for the success of Alex Henery, Maher could have been a four-year starter at kicker. As it stands, he served as both punter and kicker for the Huskers, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors at both positions in 2011 and second team honors for both positions again in 2012. 

A three-year starter at punter, Foltz was named First Team All-Big Ten in 2015 and was expected to be one of the nation’s top punters in 2016 before he passed away in an auto accident.

Pierson-El burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2014 when he established himself as one of the nation’s top returners and was named a Second Team All-American. He also contributed at wide receiver, finishing his career with 988 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Honorable Mentions:

QB: Tommy Armstrong Jr.

RB: Roy Helu Jr.

RB: Devine Ozigbo

WR: JD Spielman

WR: Jordan Westerkamp

WR: Quincy Enunwa

DL: Carlos Davis

DL: Khalil Davis

DL: Pierre Allen

LB: Eric Martin

LB: Josh Banderas

DB: Prince Amukamara

DB: Lamar Jackson

DB: Stanley Jean-Baptiste

DB: Chris Jones

K: Drew Brown

All of these players deserve to be mentioned and find their place on this list for different reasons. Some didn’t make it because the competition at their position was extremely high (Armstrong Jr., Spielman, Westerkamp, Enunwa, Brown). Others only competed in one season this decade (Helu Jr., Allen, Amukamara). Another group had one really good season, but the rest of their seasons didn’t match up to others (Ozigbo, Martin, Jackson). Whatever the reason, these players deserve at least a mention for their contributions this decade, but they just didn’t have enough to make the team.

sports@dailynebraskan.com