LINCOLN, Neb. - Nebraska defensive end Jason Ankrah knew it was coming. Bo Pelini, John Papuchis, and Rick Kaczenski all made sure he was aware of it.
“They are calling me on Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings, asking me, 'what are you doing.' I have no choice to come up here,” Ankrah said when asked if the younger densive lineman were asking him for tips at the position – including in the film room.
As a fifth-year senior, Ankrah is expected to be a leader, especially for a group up front in the trenches that doesn't have much experience.
“When we finished with Georgia, I already knew that I was going to be one of the only seniors up front with Thad (Randle), and Thad is not even in spring, so I knew I needed to step up,” said Ankrah. “A lot of people in their nature aren’t really vocal. You don’t really have to always be vocal, but you have to also show it, bring them along with you, do all the little things. Personally, it hasn’t really been a focal point, but this offseason it has, and I’ve made an emphasis on that.
“I wasn't really a vocal guy and talking these four and half years that I have been here, but I have no choice. I have embraced it and going with it.”
On Saturday, Ankrah was lined up much of the practice with fellow defensive lineman Kevin Williams (redshirt sophomore), Avery Moss (2nd year), and Aaron Curry (2nd year). While it remains to be seen what kind of impact players like, junior college defensive end Randy Gregory, or Randle's return will make, it's obvious at some point young players up front will be relied on.
“The freshmen are doing more than I thought they were even going to do (this spring),” said Ankrah. “It’s more surprising to see they want to learn more. They want to come in, they want to bring other guys with them, meet early in the morning, meet late at night. That’s a great thing to see.”
And for the rumors that he might be moving inside next fall?
“I'm a defensive end as far as I know, but it's about creating mismatches on third down and such,” said the senior. “We haven't really spoken on it yet, but I'm okay with it. Whatever it does to help the team. It's going to help me out and the team out.”
Ankrah made nine starts in 2012, playing in 14 contests. He racked up 26 tackles for two sacks, registering six tackles for loss.