Spring setup: What’s the next step for Tuioti’s veteran defensive line group?

Nebraska defensive lineman Ben Stille (95) pressures Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer during the second quarter Dec. 5 in West Lafayette, Ind.

As the March 30 start of spring football draws nearer for Nebraska, the Journal Star is taking a brief look at each position on the roster and where the Huskers stand. Last week covered offense. Let’s begin this week with Tony Tuioti’s defensive line group.

Today: Defensive line

Tuesday: Inside linebacker

Wednesday: Outside linebacker

Thursday: Corners

Friday: Safeties

Saturday: Defensive two-deep

Returning scholarship players: senior Ben Stille; juniors Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas, Jordon Riley and Chris Walker; sophomores Casey Rogers and Tate Wildeman; redshirt freshmen Ty Robinson, Mosai Newsom and Jamin Graham; freshmen Nash Hutmacher and Marquis Black.

New this spring: freshman Ru’Quan Buckley.

Walk-ons to watch: sophomore Colton Feist.

Veteran presence: Nebraska has a bunch of it up front, but this conversation begins with Stille. The Ashland native is returning for a sixth season and already has 41 games under his belt. He played arguably the best football of his career down the stretch in 2020 and will look to build on it in 2021.

Spring storyline

Nebraska’s defensive line in 2020 proved itself to be a relative surprise, showing a combination of depth and talent thanks to Stille’s improvement, another step from Daniels and the emergence of young players like Rogers and Robinson.

In 2021, the Huskers return virtually all of their production from last year save a few snaps from Keem Green, who transferred after the season.

The biggest storyline this spring, then, is how many players can put themselves in position to join a rotation that at this point probably features at least five (Stille, Daniels, Rogers, Robinson and Riley)?

Thomas has experience and was in the rotation until injuries limited him to two games. Wildeman has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but NU likes his future still.

This spring should be a good opportunity for the young trio of Newsom, Hutmacher and Black, who lost out on early developmental time last year.

— Parker Gabriel