Spring Football: Players Changing Positions

Braylon Heard moved from running back to cornerback this spring. (Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE)

Every spring, coaches move players around, trying them in different positions for various reasons.

This season is no exception. Husker Corner breaks down the players moving positions and how likely they are to have an impact.

Braylon Heard - After switching from running back to cornerback on the first day of spring ball, the coaches are already starting to like what they see. Coach Bo Pelini has spoken highly of Heard and said he’s really coming along and beginning to get comfortable playing the position again. Heard played cornerback in high school and figures to be a player that can have an immediate impact as a nickel or dime back if he keeps progressing.

Andrew Rodriguez - At Monday’s practice, offensive line coach Barney Cotton said that Andrew Rodriguez is toying with a move to tackle. Rodriguez was recently displaced as Nebraska’s starting left guard after Seung Hoon Choi took over Rodriguez’s starting role. The former five-star has a frame in the gray area between offensive tackle and offensive guard and could easily make the transition to the outside. Rodriguez’s natural talent would allow him the capability to replace Jeremiah Sirles as the starter at right tackle if coaches deem him ready and more capable than Sirles.

Justin Jackson - Jackson, who played defensive tackle last season, moved back to center to compete for the starting job with Cole Pensick and Mark Pelini. While Pensick is taking the majority of the reps with the first team, Jackson is far from out of the competition. Coach Pelini said if the Huskers didn’t need Jackson at defensive tackle last season, he could have progressed even more at center.

Dijon Washington - Nebraska’s coaches have moved Washington from cornerback to safety in the hopes of getting him on the field more in 2012. Washington can play the nickel, dime or safety roles, and coaches want to capitalize on his versatility. While he has a widespread skill set, it’s unclear if any particular skill of Washington’s is elite, and only time will tell if he will be able to get on the field, or if this move was just to provide depth at safety.

Brent Qvale - Qvale moved to guard in 2011 despite his massive frame, because the Huskers were desperate for help on the interior. Qvale ended up playing in one of Nebraska’s top backup roles, but still rarely saw the field. Tim Beck said Nebraska’s coaches opted to move Qvale back to tackle where his frame is better suited, and so far he feels much more comfortable in the role. Still, 2012 looks like another year where Qvale will play as a backup, unless something changes.

Ryne Reeves - Reeves figured to be a rock at center for Nebraska in the future after earning All-State honors and a four-star rating as a center at Crete High School. However, Husker coaches thought Reeves wasn’t a natural center and opted to try him out at guard this week in practice, a move Pelini had been considering since the first week of spring practice. While Reeves doesn’t factor in to play right away, he should provide quality depth at guard in 2012 and fight for a starting spot in the future.

By Chris Peters

Contact the writer at [email protected] or on Twitter @_ChrisPeters

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Topics: 2012, A-rod, Andrew Rodriguez, Big Ten, Blackshirts, Bo Pelini, Braylon Heard, Brent Qvale, College Football, Depth Chart, Dijon Washington, Huskers, Huskers Blog, Justin Jackson, Nebraska, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Position Battles, Position Moves, Roster, Ryne Reeves, Spring Ball, Spring Football, Top 25

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