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July 6, 2011As the dog days of summer continue, HuskerOnline.com is introducing a new series breaking down Nebraska's top 15 players on the roster heading into 2011.
In our first installment of "Key Huskers," we take a look at safety Courtney Osborne and where he stands heading into the 2011 season.
Osborne is a rangy, athletic safety at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. He plays with good technique and fundamentals and is usually in a position to make a play on the ball.
Ever since his insertion to the line-up during the Missouri game, Osborne brought a consistency to the position that had been missing at the start of the 2010 season.
What he still needs to prove
After taking over the starting safety duties in mid-year, Osborne now needs to prove he can be the guy for an entire year.
The Big Ten offenses will present different challenges for NU's secondary, and Osborne will be called upon more than ever to come up and play the run. Unlike the Big 12, the Big Ten offenses will test Nebraska's secondary from a physical standpoint.
Most memorable play or moment
Osborne came up with an interception in the Big 12 Championship game against Oklahoma, but clearly his most memorable play was the bone crushing sack he landed on Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
The hit caused a fumble that was scooped up and ran back for a touchdown, but the officiating crew did not call the play a fumble, even though video evidence clearly showed Gabbert put the ball on the ground.
ESPN's Ed Cunningham also suggested Osborne's hit was dirty, which was the second week in the row he called out a Husker player during a national TV broadcast. The week before, Cunningham played a hand in getting Eric Martin suspended after a hit he made on special teams at Oklahoma State.
In just four starts, Osborne racked up 41 tackles in 2010, including nine stops in the Texas A&M game. Look for Osborne to possibly double that mark in 2011, as he will be a full time starter at safety with senior Austin Cassidy.
The combination of Osborne and Cassidy, along with junior P.J. Smith off the bench gives NU a steady presence at the safety position.