The time to look back fondly on the five-year anniversary of Nebraska joining the Big Ten was put aside this morning to address some roster changes within the program. A memo sent from the football office this morning in Lincoln announced safety LeRoy Alexander and wide receiver Jariah Tolbert will transfer to another football program for the fall. In addition, Nebraska has confirmed linebacker David Santos is no longer with the program.
Santos no longer being a part of the program may be the most noteworthy development. Santos was a starter for the Huskers last fall, including in Nebraska’s Holiday Bowl match-up against USC last bowl season. He would have been one of the most experienced players on Nebraska’s defense this fall with the ability to play multiple positions if needed.
Alexander played some during the 2013 season but was out of action for the entire 2014 season due to a team suspension under former head coach Bo Pelini. The reason for his suspension was never made clear other than a violation of team rules. He remained on scholarship despite being suspended.
Tolbert sat out the 2014 season as a redshirt player. He still has four years of eligibility remaining. He and Alexander will have to sit out the 2015 season if they transfer to another FBS program, but each would be eligible to play right away this fall if they land at a lower level program.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference last season in pass defense. Due to another loss in the team’s secondary, the Cornhuskers will have trouble improving this fall.
In a statement released by the school’s sports information department, talented safety LeRoy Alexander has been suspended for the season.
“Nebraska sophomore defensive back LeRoy Alexander has been suspended from competition for the 2014 football season. Alexander will remain on scholarship as a member of the Nebraska football program and will be allowed to practice with the team. Coach Pelini and the Nebraska Athletics Department will have no additional comment on this matter.”
No reason was given for the suspension.
Alexander played in 13 games last year as part of the team’s secondary rotation and an integral member of Nebraska’s special teams. He finished the season with 34 tackles and one start. Alexander really came on strong late in the season when he accumulated 27 of those tackles in the team’s final six games.
Alexander was projected to start at safety next to senior Corey Cooper. Sophomore Nathan Gerry should be next in line to fill the spot.
Alexander’s suspension comes as a massive blow to the Cornhuskers, because he’s not the only prominent member of the secondary lost for the season. The team’s nickel back, Chris Jackson, suffered a knee injury at the start of fall camp, and he will also miss the entirety of the upcoming season.
Nebraska safety Corey Cooper is being held out of spring practices for the time being. Turf toe is to blame, leaving the returning starter moving around in a walking boot on his left foot. The injury is not one that is being considered too serious, although head coach Bo Pelini says now is not the time to push it.
“I’m not going to push Coop at this time of year,” Pelini said Saturday, according to Lincoln Star Journal.
There is no need for Cooper to rush back of course. because he has already established himself as one of the top returning players for the Huskers in 2014. Last season he recorded 91 tackles and came up with an interception early in the season. Not having him on the field during practices now will open up some playing time for some other players to improve the experience down on the depth chart. Nathan Gerry and LeRoy Alexander are expected to continue filling in with the first team defense until Cooper is able to get on the field.
Nebraska also got their new defensive backs coach in to the mix, Charlton Warren. Warren joined the Huskers coaching staff this year after nine years at his alma mater, Air Force. He apparently is making for an impression with his energetic in his first practice with the team.
“He was out there yelling, jumping around with us, running down the field with us,” senior cornerback Josh Mitchell said to the Lincoln Journal Star. “I thought he was going to pull a hamstring.”
Among the roster changes this spring for Nebraska is the absence of safety Harvey Jackson. Jackson is not listed on Nebraska’s spring roster, a surprising development considering he would have been one of the most experienced players in the Nebraska secondary. There has been no word on why Jackson is no longer on the roster according to multiple reports.