Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard has strained a leg muscle and his return date is unknown, according to head coach Bo Pelini, who announced the news to media following Wednesday's practice.
The 5-10, 205 pound Dennard is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior cornerback and was the highest graded senior prospect at any position for some pro scouts. NFLDraftScout.com currently rated him second behind Alabama junior Dre Kirkpatrick among all potentially eligible cornerbacks for the 2012 NFL draft.
Despite being a bit overshadowed last year by teammate Prince Amukamara (the New York Giants' first round pick), Dennard received First Team All Big-12 accolades after posting 30 tackles, 11 passes broken up and four interceptions. I've had scouts theorize that some of the reason why Amukamara "slid" to the 19th pick last April was that teams were surprised to see on tape that Dennard was actually the more consistent player among the two.
The injury isn't thought to be serious, so there remains the possibility that Dennard will be able to return in time for Nebraska's opener against Chattanooga September 3.
Dennard can't afford to miss too much time, however. While physicality and toughness are considered two of his strongest suits, the reality is some teams are going to have a hard time giving a first round grade for a player who technically measured in at little more than 5-09 and a 1/2" despite the fact that Dennard is a rock-solid 205 pounds. Dennard missed most of the Missouri game and the entire Iowa State contest last year with a concussion.