The Hail Mary that caused the Huskers to top Northwestern last season was fun. The block that Kenny Bell made in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game was fun. It’s time to look to the future, though Bell’s role has already been defined. He’s to be the leader, potentially a captain, the face of the corps.
Westerkamp’s spotlight won’t start as large as Bell’s or shine as brightly, but it can grow and if he’s improved on an impressive spring, it will.
As mentioned in my stat predictions for him, he can do what’s asked of him. It’s not impossible for Westerkamp to go on deeper routes.
However, he’ll aid his quarterback best by moving the sticks, something he already proved he could do last year. He picked up nearly 40 percent of his 283 yards on third down. All but one snag required seven to ten-plus yards for a first down.
He did have 129 yards on second down, but 49 of those (and his only score) came on that play. Applause for the heads up catch to, yanno, save the day, but it’s clear that No. 1 can be clutch. Frankly, he’ll have to be.
Westerkamp reminds me of former Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis whom I grew a bigger fan of the more I watched him play. The first time I read up on him, I thought, “Meh, what could this guy do?” Nick Toon was the big name in Madison.
Turned out he could do anything that was necessary. Haul in the occasional big bomb, run crisp routes, make life easier for his quarterback in general.
Comparing the first year stats of the Nebraska sophomore to one of the newest Green Bay Packers points to the growth I see Westerkamp having.
Abbrederis’ saw him catch 20 balls for 289 yards and three scores. Last year, Westerkamp caught 20 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown.
The following year, “Abracadabra’s” stats skyrocketed as he hauled in 55 passes for 933 yards and eight touchdowns. I don’t think Westerkamp matches those numbers, but I can see him exceeding my expectations along with nearly everyone else’s.
Once the conference season is winding down, if the Huskers are still in the race for the conference crown, I can’t see how No. 1 won’t have been heavily involved.
Being that reliable third down target and improving the way the Wisconsin wideout did will have him flirting with a first-team All-Big Ten nod.
You heard it here first, folks.
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