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Recruiting 3 year 2018-2020

Discussion in 'Recruiting' started by HuskerInOkieland, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    The major question every recruiting season is what positions are our biggest priorities. The biggest mistake people make when answering this question is not understanding that we are not recruiting to fill our CURRENT needs. We are filling our needs for the future. To understand this, we need to project our depth chart 2 or 3 seasons down the road. Where we see holes in the future, that is where we need to concentrate. Holes in our current roster or our immediate future will almost certainly need to be filled by position changes or JUCO’s. Everything else, needs solid HS recruits.

    Always beware of positions that look stacked but will be hit hard by attrition down the road. Coaching staffs that do the best job of preparing for such future potential emergencies are the coaching staffs whose programs not only win but win consistently year after year.

    This thread is designed to help understand our depth needs looking forward 3 years.

    A couple of rules:

    Some players may be listed at a secondary position in addition to their primary position. Their names will be surrounded by () at the secondary position. I usually list those players at the end of each position

    When projecting future starters, in many cases I just systematically rotate players up. The purpose is not to show who will start over who, but to show depth. In many cases, I do not show a given player to be starter even though I may strongly believe he will be one. I just rotate names forward at that position.

    Starters are listed first in each line. Then the second string. The rest of the reserves are listed denoted by [] around list. Then () players. I do place ??? anywhere in the two-deep that is not filled by a player currently on the roster. Recruits do not count in the two-deep until they are signed.

    Signed players not yet on campus (not yet qualified) denoted by underline.

    Walk-on players denoted with * after name. Walk-on players do not count in the depth chart until they are on campus.

    First and Second team in ALL CAPS. First team and second team separated by ~ symbol.

    Except in specific situations, I assumed no future redshirts, early exits for the draft, or Academic casualties.

    2018 thru 2020 Depth Charts will be split up into two separate posts for offense and defense. And look for my detailed annual position by position analysis to follow.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  2. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    RECRUITS-Cam’Ron (“Cam”) Jones, C.J. Smith, Deontai Williams(JC-3.5/3), Corbin Frederick*(Walk-on), Isaiah Stalbird*(Walk-on); TRANSFER-Tre Neal, Ruth Corbin*(Walk-on), Lane McCallum*(Walk-on)

    [Tre Neal-RSr, JoJo Domann-RSo, Cam Jones-Fr, C.J. Smith-Fr, Eli Sullivan*-RSo, Reid Karel*-RJr, Lane McCallum*-RFr, Ruth Corbin*-RFr, Corbin Frederick*-Fr, Isaiah Stalbird*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Myles Farmer-DB/ATH, Noa Pola-Gates

    [JoJo Domann, Eli Sullivan*, Reid Karel*, Lane McCallum*, Ruth Corbin*, Corbin Frederick*, Isaiah Stalbird*]

    [JoJo Domann, Eli Sullivan*, Lane McCallum*, Ruth Corbin*, Corbin Frederick*, Isaiah Stalbird*]

    CB 2017 GRADUATED: CHRIS JONES , Boaz Joseph; LEFT TEAM: Will Jackson

    RECRUITS- Braxton Clark, Cam Taylor, Moses Bryant*(Walk-on)-RB/DB; TRANSFER-Will Jackson

    [Ethan Cox*-RFr, Eric Lee-RJr, Tony Butler-RSo, Avery Anderson-RJr, Jeremiah Stovall*-RJr, Bradley Bunner*-RFr, Moses Bryant*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Quinton Newsome, Javin Wright

    [Ethan Cox*, Eric Lee, Tony Butler, Avery Anderson, Jeremiah Stovall*, Bradley Bunner*, Moses Bryant*]

    [Tony Butler, Bradley Bunner*, Moses Bryant*]

    LB 2017 GRADUATED: MARCUS NEWBY, CHRIS WEBER; LEFT TEAM: Willie Hampton, Andrew Ward, Thomas Connely*, Cody Liske*, Avery Roberts

    RECRUITS- David Alston, Caleb Tannor, Will Honas(JC-3.5/2), Joseph Johnson*(Walk-on), Chris Cassidy*(Walk-on)-LB/RB, Jake Archer*(Walk-on), Anthony Banderas*(Walk-on), Simon Otte*(Walk-on); TRANSFER-Breon Dixon

    [Breon Dixon-So, Sedrick King-RSr, Quayshon Alexander-RSo, Pernell Jefferson-RSo, Guy Thomas-RFr, Jacob Weinmaster*-RJr, Dave Alston-Fr, Grant Jordan*-RSo, Spencer Jordan*-RSo, Jordan Paup*-RFr, Joseph Johnson*-Fr, Chris Cassidy*-Fr, Jake Archer*-Fr, Anthony Banderas*-Fr, Simon Otte*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Jackson Hannah, Nick Heinrich

    [Guy Thomas, Quayshon Alexander, Pernell Jefferson, Dave Alston, Grant Jordan*, Spencer Jordan*, Jordan Paup*, Joseph Johnson*, Chris Cassidy*, Jake Archer*, Anthony Banderas*, Simon Otte*]

    [Dave Alston, Grant Jordan*, Spencer Jordan*, Jordan Paup*, Joseph Johnson*, Chris Cassidy*, Jake Archer*, Anthony Banderas*, Simon Otte*]

    DL 2017 GRADUATED: A.J. Natter, Joel Lopez*, Erik Evans*; LEFT TEAM: Dylan Owen*

    RECRUITS- Tate Wildeman, Casey Rogers, Ryan Schommer*(Walk-on), Colton Feist*(Walk-on); TRANSFER-Vaha Vainuku

    [Damion Daniels(DT)-RFr, Daishon Neal-RJr, Deontre Thomas-So, Vaha Vainuku-RJr, Chris Walker-RFr, Tate Wildeman-Fr, Casey Rogers-Fr, Matt Jarzynka*-RSr, Fyn Anderson*-RJr, Ben Lingenfelter*-RFr, Damian Jackson*-RFr, Ryan Schommer*-Fr, Colton Feist*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Tony Fair(JC-2.5/2)-DT, Mosai Newsom, Garrett Nelson-ATH, Ethan Piper-DL/OL

    [Deontre Thomas, Chris Walker, Tate Wildeman, Casey Rogers, Fyn Anderson*, Ben Lingenfelter*, Damian Jackson*, Ryan Schommer*, Colton Feist*]

    [Ben Lingenfelter*, Damian Jackson*, Ryan Schommer*, Colton Feist*]
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  3. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    RB 2017 GRADUATED: LUKE MCNITT, Adam Taylor, Harrison Jordan*; LEFT TEAM: Ben Miles, Tanner Hass*, Sean Lambert*, TRE BRYANT

    RECRUITS- Miles Jones, Maurice Washington, Greg Bell(JC-3.5/2), Brody Belt*(Walk-on), Connor Ruth*(Walk-on)

    [Tre Bryant-RSo, Mikale Wilbon-RSr, Jaylen Bradley-So, Wyatt Mazour*-RJr, Miles Jones-Fr, Maurice Washington-Fr, Austin Rose*-RSr, Austin Hemphill*-RJr, Brody Belt*-Fr, Connor Ruth*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Rahmir Johnson, Ronald Thompkins, Dedrick Mills(JC-2.5/2)

    [Jaylen Bradley, Wyatt Mazour*, Miles Jones, Austin Hemphill*, Brody Belt*, Connor Ruth*]

    [Miles Jones, Maurice Washington, Brody Belt*, Connor Ruth*]


    RECRUITS-Adrian Martinez, Matt Masker*(Walk-on); TRANSFER-Noah Vedral

    [Noah Vedral-So, Matt Masker*-Fr]

    RECRUITS- Luke McCaffrey

    [Noah Vedral, Matt Masker*]

    RECRUITS- Logan Smothers

    [Noah Vedral, Matt Masker*]

    WR 2017 GRADUATED: DEMORNAY PIERSON-EL, Gabe Rahn*, Brett Claussen*; LEFT TEAM: Keyan Williams, Zach Darlington, Dylan Reynolds*

    RECRUITS- Justin McGriff(WR/TE), Dominic Watt, Andre Hunt, Jaron Woodyard(JC-3/2), Mike Williams(JC-3.5/2), Justin Holm*(Walk-on), Bennett Folkers*(Walk-on), Wyatt Liewer*(Walk-on)

    [Justin McGriff-Fr, Bryan Reimers*-RSr, Conor Young*-RJr, Dominic Watt-Fr, Andre Hunt-Fr, Todd Honas*-RSo, Ty Chaffin*-RSo, Kade Warner*-RFr, Christian Banker*-RFr, Brandon Robbins*-RFr, Chad Alioth Jr.*-RFr, Andrew Thurman*-RFr, Justin Holm*-Fr, Bennett Folkers*-Fr, Wyatt Liewer*-Fr]

    RECRUITS- Jamie Nance, Darien Chase(ATH/WR),Wandale Robinson(ATH/WR)

    [Conor Young*, Dominic Watt, Andre Hunt, Todd Honas*, Ty Chaffin*, Kade Warner*, Christian Banker*, Brandon Robbins*, Chad Alioth Jr.*, Andrew Thurman*, Justin Holm*, Bennett Folkers*, Wyatt Liewer*]

    [Todd Honas*, Ty Chaffin*, Kade Warner*, Christian Banker*, Brandon Robbins*, Chad Alioth Jr.*, Andrew Thurman*, Justin Holm*, Bennett Folkers*, Wyatt Liewer*]

    TE 2017 GRADUATED: TYLER HOPPES, CONNOR KETTER; LEFT TEAM: Matt Snyder, David Engelhaupt

    RECRUITS- Cameron Jurgens, Katerian LeGrone(TE/WR), Bryson Krull*(Walk-on)

    [Kurt Rafdal-RFr, Cameron Jurgens-Fr, Katerian LeGrone-Fr, Brandon Hohenstein*-RSo, Bo Kittrell*-RSr, Bryson Krull*-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Garrett Snodgrass-TE/ATH, Chris Hickman

    [Kurt Rafdal, Cameron Jurgens, Katerian LeGrone, Brandon Hohenstein*, Bryson Krull*]

    [Kurt Rafdal, Cameron Jurgens, Katerian LeGrone, Brandon Hohenstein*, Bryson Krull*]

    OL 2017 GRADUATED: NICK GATES, DAVID KNEVEL, Matt Watts*; LEFT TEAM: MICHAEL DECKER, Bryan Brokop, Jake Kitten*, Jalin Barnett

    RECRUITS- Will Farniok(OC), AJ Forbes*(Walk-on), Collin Shefke*(Walk-on), Mitchell Balenger*(OC)(Walk-on)

    [Broc Bando-RFr, Will Farniok(OC)-Fr, Trent Hixson*-RFr, AJ Forbes*-Fr, Collin Shefke*-Fr, Mitchell Balenger*(OC)-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Desmond Bland(JC-2.5/2)-OT, Matthew Anderson(OT), Michael Lynn(OT), Bryce Benhart(OT), Riley Moses*(OG/DL)(Walk-on)

    [Trent Hixson*(OT), AJ Forbes*, Collin Shefke*, Mitchell Balenger*(OC)]

    [Trent Hixson*(OT), AJ Forbes*, Collin Shefke*, Mitchell Balenger*(OC)]

    Kicking 2017 GRADUATED: DREW BROWN; LEFT TEAM: Kramer Rath*

    RECRUITS- Barret Pickering(PK), Cameron Pieper*(LS)(Walk-on); TRANSFER- Alec Cromer*(P)(Walk-on)

    [Isaac Armstrong(P)-RJr, Chase Urbach*(LS)-RJr, Cole Frahm*(PK)-RFr, Jackson Walker*(P)-RJr, Alec Cromer*(P)-RSo, Cameron Pieper(LS)-Fr]

    RECRUITS-Grant Detlefsen*(P)(Walk-on)

    [Isaac Armstrong(P), Cole Frahm*(PK), Jackson Walker*(P), Alec Cromer*(P), Cameron Pieper(LS)]

    [Cole Frahm*(PK)]
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  4. All 'N' 011808

    All 'N' 011808 Former Walk-on 2 Year Member

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    As always, this is good stuff! Thanks for doing it!
  5. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    Perhaps no position gives Huskers fans cause for concern for 2018 than the defensive backfield. As fans discuss their concerns regarding the defensive backfield, they tend to speak in generalities about this group as it were one big group—with one big story to tell. In fact, the stories at CB and safety are decidedly different.

    Whereas safety has some immediate depth and perhaps some quality within that depth, injuries are a big part of the story. Also, it is going be hit fairly hard by graduation next year. Meanwhile, CB has little depth and virtually no proven quality within the little depth that exists. Meanwhile, graduation will not be an issue after this season

    Let’s take a closer look at the players.


    In the season that completely derailed, one of the first body blows suffered by the team last year was the loss of senior CB Chris Jones before the start of the season. Perhaps our top NFL prospect at the time, his loss was keenly felt and one could argue that the defense never recovered. With the loss of our one true “cover” corner, new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco tried to coddle the remaining CBs by having them give 10 yard cushions to opposing receivers. The results were predictably awful.

    Perhaps Diaco was hoping he could bring the “kids” along slowly and rely on some experience at safety. Unfortunately, the injuries began to mount at safety and when considering the Huskers anemic pass rush, the recipe for disaster was cooking up nicely. Speaking of the pass rush, fans last year debated if the horrid DB play was a result of the poor pass rush or vice versa. The skeptical fan would say “both.” Unfortunately, the skeptical fan is probably right. The pass rush was poor, but to be truthful, receivers were so wide open so fast, any pass rush couldn’t possibly be effective anyway.

    So the good news and the bad news are one in the same. Aside from the injured Chris Jones, everybody else is back this year.

    To make matters worse, perhaps no position was hurt more in recruiting by the coaching change then the CB position. Husker fans watched as three highly touted CBs decommitted and it soon became obvious that immediate freshman help might not happen (although Frost did sign two nice prospects eventually). Without an immediate impact freshman, fans were further disappointed by a lack of JUCO CBs signed (although Deontai Williams “could” play there.)

    But finally, Nebraska landed a transfer CB to help out the secondary early in the summer. Junior Will Jackson arrives in fall camp with plenty of promise as well as expectations. Jackson is said to look the part, he has good size and intangibles. He will undoubtedly be given every opportunity to make an immediate impact at the position.

    If Will Jackson is as good as advertised, the prospects for a successful season improve considerably. There are three basic holdovers at the CB position from last year. The hope is that Coach Frost and staff have some magic key that can unlock some yet untapped potential from the holdovers. If Will Jackson can lock down one spot, finding hidden gold from one of three players is quite a bit less daunting then finding hidden gold from two of three players.

    The first of the three holdovers is junior Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson has plenty of talent and skills. He has even been compared to Deion Sanders. Unfortunately, it is because he tackles like Deion Sanders, not because he covers like Deion. Lamar Jackson was an extremely popular recruit in his class, but unfortunately the act has worn thin. Jackson is perceived as extremely flaky, annoying fans with constant chatter about leaving after his junior year to go to the NFL. One would think he would concern himself with being a marginally proficient college player before fantasizing about an NFL career. The new staff (much like the old staff) has challenged Jackson to work to get better. The talent is there although some fans think he would be a better safety—but that boat has sailed.

    Perhaps no play illustrated his “tackling” ability then a play last year. On this play, Jackson approached a ball carrier and instead of laying a lick on the runner, he gently shoved the player as if to push him out of bounds. Unfortunately, they weren’t anywhere near the sidelines. The player rambled down the field. For a fan base that prides toughness, plays like that are hard to swallow. Reportedly, he had a very promising spring camp. But skeptical fans have heard that before. And some skeptics point out that you can’t teach someone to tackle if he doesn’t have it in him. But perhaps that out of bounds play illustrates that Jackson lacks field awareness and some basic instincts. Confidence could also be an issue in spite of his bravado about leaving early for the NFL. Perhaps with some solid coaching . . . well, we shall see. Almost any improvement would be welcome. Perhaps if he can get an early interception to gain some confidence. He did have an interception in the spring game, although it was easy pick—something like that might help to kick start some positive momentum for the young man.

    Next up is another once promising prospect, redshirt junior Eric Lee Jr. Lee arrived in the spring several years ago brimming with promise but stuck behind a rather deep group of holdovers. He seemed to fall off the radar until last year when he was said to have a great fall and spring camp. When the season started, he was lined up 10 yards from the receivers and just never looked comfortable. Confidence was said to be one of his issues. Perhaps having a DC set him up to give a 10 yard cushion on every play wasn’t the greatest vote of confidence the kid could have asked for. At this point, fans just aren’t sure about Lee. I’m not sure he showed as badly as Jackson did at times, but the problem is he just never seemed to flash on the field. Even Jackson flashed at times. Perhaps there is some talent in Lee that hasn’t been uncovered. Or perhaps fans need to lower their expectations and accept that Lee may be a decent “depth guy” at best and not a top end defender. In any case, Lee will probably get another chance to prove himself at some point this year. However, he is in danger of being left behind for good.

    The third holdover from last year is a player that might turn out to be a decent bet. Redshirt sophomore Dicaprio Bootle has plenty of speed and has flashed some solid run support tackling ability at times. Bootle was behind the other two CBs early last year but started to earn some serious playing time and even started at safety against Ohio State. Unfortunately, Bootle was injured much of the second half last year. To make matters worse, Bootle missed this years’ Spring Game with an injury although he was said to have had a good spring. Obviously, Bootle needs to stay healthy and hopefully he can benefit from the new scheme and coaching staff. Fans have somewhat forgotten about Bootle. But like the others, he will likely get an opportunity at some point during the season if not sooner than later.

    Outside of the transfer and the three holdovers, is there anything else there? Well, although the cupboard isn’t complete bare, it isn’t exactly overflowing either. First the returning players. Redshirt Sophomore Tony Butler moved from safety to CB last year and saw some action particularly on special teams. However, his somnambulant roughing the punter penalty against Iowa last year wasn’t exactly a stirring moment. He would have to show some major improvement to be a factor. Redshirt junior Avery Anderson arrived with Eric Lee Jr. with almost as much fanfare during the same spring. He has moved back and forth between safety and CB and seems equally unimpressive at both. He simply has never developed.

    One returning player who might actually have a chance to contribute in a positive way is walk on redshirt junior Jeremiah Stovall. Now, I’m not saying he will help us win a championship, but he does have some skills and might be counted upon if injuries cut too deep. He did see the field last year (played some safety as well) and did some nice things on special teams. Unfortunately, he was injured during spring ball so fans didn’t get a chance to see him in the new scheme.

    Another walk on, redshirt freshman Ethan Cox was said to have impressed the coaching staff in the spring. He may be worth keeping an eye on.

    So that leaves us with the newbys. The bad news is, the Huskers lost out on most of the recruits who were believed to be “instant-impact” type freshmen. The good news is that Coach Frost managed to get commitments from a pair of very nice prospects—Cam Taylor and Braxton Clark. Although both players were thought by some fans to need some development time, there is some hope that Cam Taylor may surprise some folks and be ready sooner than expected. If so, that would be a tremendous development. Taylor was a quarterback in high school and has tremendous athletic skills. Meanwhile Clark is a tall and rangy CB with long strides and a physical style. Don’t be surprised if both freshmen work their way into the rotation this year although it would be nice if the holdovers could hold things down enough that at least one of the freshmen could redshirt.

    One other incoming freshman note, walk on RB Moses Bryant is reportedly starting out at CB. Bryant is a remarkable athlete for a walk on. It is speculated that he could take reps at both CB and RB. Certainly a scholarship caliber player, grades caused many colleges from backing away from his recruitment. A popular player amongst fans, his development should be interesting to watch.

    Another possibility would be to move JUCO sophomore Deontai Williams to CB. Personally, I don’t see that happening as Williams has looked great at safety and would be another unknown at CB.

    For better or worse in 2019, the entire gang is back—assuming of course that Lamar Jackson doesn’t leave early for the NFL. Obviously, if players step forward in 2018, the prospects for 2019 look much, much greener. If not, JUCO, JUCO, JUCO.

    In 2020, graduation starts to effect this position. Lamar Jackson, Will Jackson, Eric Lee Jr., Avery Anderson, and Jeremiah Stovall will all be gone. Bootle and Butler will still be here and by then the staff will possibly know if they struck gold in Cam Taylor and Braxton Clark. It remains to be seen if Moses Bryant is still a CB and if he is a player there.

    Look for the staff to take a couple of CB’s each year and possibly a JUCO (or two) in each of the next two years depending on the development of the younger players.


    The battle for both safety positions is wide open and up for grabs. There is returning talent, a JUCO that was here in the spring, and some serious incoming talent in the fall. Let’s start with the returning talent.

    Under normal circumstances, senior Aaron Williams would be coming into the season as an undisputed leader of the secondary with hopes of having a great year. Unfortunately, Williams is battling injuries and there is concern that his shoulder may pose issues all year long. When healthy, the multi-year starter, Williams is a smart heady safety—a quarterback of the defense type of player. As it stands, his status is unclear. How much can he play? How effective will he be when he plays?

    Another key returning player, senior Antonio Reed is more of a strong safety, big-hit kind of player. Unfortunately, injuries have always been an issue for Reed. Last year, Reed battled injuries and was one of the most effective players when healthy early in the year. But as the year wore on, the injuries began to take their toll and Reed became less and less effective. Not much was said about Reed in the spring—so it is hard to get a read on where he stands in the new scheme.

    The next key returning player is redshirt sophomore Marquel Dismuke. Injuries allowed Dismuke to see the field sooner than expected last year and by most accounts, Dismuke more than held his own. As his playing time increased, his productivity increased as Dismuke recorded solid tackle numbers and a key fumble recovery. Dismuke is a good athlete but the knock on him is that he isn’t exactly a weight room warrior. He needs to get stronger. Also, many of tackles are of the downfield variety. It remains to be seen if he has more “big play” ability. Like Reed, not much was said about Dismuke during the spring. Again, it is hard to say where he is in the coaches plans.

    Another returning player is redshirt sophomore JoJo Dohmann, who after two ACL injuries is back and practicing. After serving on special teams as a freshman, Dohmann was poised to fight for a starting job last year when his season was lost by his first ACL injury. Then in rehab, he suffered a severe setback and some thought he might not ever make it back. Dohmann is practicing again, but it remains to be seen if he can make it all the way back. Conventional wisdom is that it may take some time (perhaps a year to 18 months) for him to fully recover (if he fully recovers at all). It is hard to imagine Dohmann making much of an impact this year but many fans will be rooting for him.

    Next up, would be the spring JUCO, sophomore Deontai Williams. Williams arrived in the spring and immediately impressed the staff with his hard hitting style. Capable of playing CB, nickel, or safety, Williams comes to fall camp to win a job as a starting safety or nickel. Chances are he will play quite a bit of both. As good as he has looked at safety, it is doubtful he will play any CB. Look for him to be a major factor in the defensive backfield.

    Leading the spring newcomers was a late summer surprise dialed up by the staff. Senior Tre Neal announced that he will be moving from UCF to Nebraska as a graduate transfer. Neal was a starter and key player for Central Florida’s magical run last year. He brings experience and familiarity with the system to the DB room. If Tre Neal doesn’t play a snap, he could still be invaluable helping the other players to understand the system. But look for Neal to play and play quite a bit. He is here to win a starting job and given Frost’s up-tempo style of offense, Neal adds to the depth needed to keep players fresh on defense. This was potentially a game changing pick up.

    The good news is, the cupboard isn’t bare behind the already mentioned candidates for playing time. Scott Frost and his staff reportedly believed that they had signed the top HS safety tandem in the country last year in Cam’ron Jones and CJ Smith. In particular, Cam Jones was said to have graded out as the highest rated safety in the country by the staff’s evaluations. It is believed that Jones has the ability and physical maturity to make an instant impact in the secondary. There are those who believe that Jones will turn out to be the best player from the last recruiting cycle. He should see the field quite a bit on special teams if not actually part of the safety rotation.

    Meanwhile CJ Smith gave Husker fans some anxiety when he waited until February to sign. He just wanted to be part of his school’s signing event, but fans wondered if he was having second thoughts by skipping the early signing period. But Smith signed without any drama and the Huskers are happy to have him. Smith has good size, speed, and physicality. His brother is a wide receiver at UCF. Smith has said in interviews that he doesn’t intend to redshirt, so he is worth keeping an eye on.

    As for walk-ons, sophomore Eli Sullivan saw the field last year and will be looking for playing time on defense and special teams. Two incoming freshman walk-ons to keep an eye on are Isaiah Stalbird and Corbin Frederick. Frederick followed Cam Jones from Mansfield, Texas to Nebraska and had some decent offers. Meanwhile Stalbird is from Kearney and made the 110 man fall roster. He could be a good one.

    In 2019, things thin out just a bit. Aaron Williams, Antonio Reed, and Tre Neal should all be gone by then. Hopefully, Deontai Williams will be a fixture by then and Cam Jones and CJ Smith are ready to make a strong move up the depth chart (if they are not already established). Dismuke will also be back and perhaps Dohmann will be healthy and productive.

    In 2020, everyone should be back from 2019.

    Look for Nebraska to add two safeties in this cycle. A JUCO is certainly not out of the question.


    Perhaps no position group right now is more wide open then the secondary. It is easy to imagine all kinds of different player combinations seeing the field at both the CB and safety positions. The staff will have their hands full not only trying to find the right starters, but establishing a rotation of players behind the starters. It will be interesting to see which of the candidates are conspicuously absent from the rotation as the season progresses. Not all these guys are going to play. Competition is fierce. How this group plays out, will not only have a major impact on this season’s win-loss record but will have a significant impact on the recruiting strategy for next year.

    To put it simply, Nebraska must find some positive answers to their secondary questions this year. If they do, 2019 and 2020 actually set up pretty well. If they do not, then the uncertainty will potentially plague 2019 and beyond.

    LATE EDIT: Most of this was written last week. I decided not to revise the Cam Taylor comments above. But . . . Cam Taylor has been one of the great surprises of early fall camp. In fact, the DB's as a whole are being credited with showing great improvement over the summer. Hopefully this isn't just Coach-speak--especially given how frank the coaches were about their initial disappointment with the group.

    Next up . . . The Linebackers.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
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  6. Beareye

    Beareye Red Shirt 2 Year Member

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    Great analysis. Thanks for the time and effort with these posts.
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  7. Red Reign

    Red Reign Husker Immortal 10 Year Member

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  8. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    What a difference a few years and a couple of coaching staffs make. When Mike Riley arrived at Nebraska, the one position that alarmed him at the lack of numbers was linebackers. Under Bo Pelini, we recruited LB’s every 3 or 4 years rather we needed to or not. During Pelini’s tenure, we rarely had more than 5 or 6 LB’s on scholarship—and that was usually a high point. Riley began to immediately fill out the ranks with a goal of having 10-11 linebackers on scholarship.

    As this process began to bear fruit, we changed to the 3-4 defense. This necessitated that some of our DE’s be moved to OLB. Suddenly, we were ballooning with LB numbers. Last fall we had 15 LB’s on scholarship. This fall, we have 14.

    Bringing that many young LB’s into a program in such a short period of time, it is obvious that attrition will need to happen. Not all those young LB’s are going to develop. This has been a bit of a tough lesson for some Husker fans as certain players become favorites, and some fans become stressed when their favorite is nowhere near seeing the field. In fact, some fans expressed major concern when a couple of LB’s left the program this offseason. But the overall numbers are just fine. In fact, expect more attrition as players discover where they stand with the new staff over the course of the first season under Frost.

    Although the overall numbers are fine, the split between ILB and OLB bears watching. Last year, the consensus was that we were solid at ILB (especially the starters) but the talent was wanting at OLB (especially the starters). Now this year, OLB seems to be bursting with prospects, and the depth at ILB may be shallowing up a bit. Let’s look at both separately.


    Another year. Another coaching staff. Another defensive scheme. Another opportunity for a new set of coaches to confirm to Husker fans that Dedrick Young II is not going to be a main factor this year. And yet again, another set of coaches have revealed that Dedrick Young II is in fact one of the most impressive players in the LB room.

    How can this be?

    Perhaps no 4 year starter has been as universally disliked as Dedrick Young. Other maligned 4 year starters have often had plenty of supporters arguing with the detractors (Armstrong, T-Mart, etc.). But it has been hard to find fans who are willing to support Dedrick Young as the losses pile up and dissatisfaction amongst the fan base grows. And one of the very favorite targets of the disgruntled masses is Dedrick Young. Surely, better coaches will see how bad he is and will produce or recruit better players. Surely. Surely Diaco will see it. Okay, he stinks. Surely Frost’s staff will see it. Surely.

    Dedrick Young is poised to be one of our main cogs on defense this year and will likely be one of our top tacklers again this year. Why don’t fans like him? He is perceived as slow and lacking big play ability. Early in his career, he played with some injuries that slowed him down and did not help his perception. But Young has genuinely struggled at times. For a guy who played RB in High School, he isn’t very good in space and has struggled to shed blockers. However, some of his best plays are at the line of scrimmage where he plugs up the hole and the ball carrier ends up under a pile. In those cases, the announcers often call the wrong name when giving credit for the tackle. Usually only in the replay can the viewer really see what a job Young did.

    Perhaps only Stoltenberg at DT is more secure in his job on defense than Young. The first inside LB spot is his. Hopefully, this scheme will be more conductive to his abilities and he has a great year. The staff is very high on him.

    The other inside linebacker spot is as up for grabs as just about any position on the entire team. It was presumed when junior Will Honas signed with the Huskers as a highly heralded JUCO recruit, that one of the inside LB jobs was automatically his for the taking. Honas arrived in the spring and has not disappointed. He will play and he will play a lot. Perhaps no one in the ILB room has his playmaking ability—he is instinctive, physical, has solid speed, and has a knack for getting to the ball carrier. The one attribute that jumps out on film with Honas is that when Honas makes a tackle, ball carriers don’t get “leaky” yardage. Their forward progress stops. This is a quality Husker fans may remember of a previous Husker legend—LB Coach Barrett Ruud.

    But hold the phone folks, grabbing the starting job isn’t so easy. That’s because redshirt junior Mohammad Barry has no intention of backing down from anybody. Barry is fan favorite (the opposite of Young) and looks ready to play his best football. Speed and instincts are Barry’s attributes along with a knack for making plays. Supremely confident, Barry was a bit on the small side when he first arrived but some solid work in the weight room has Barry bulked up nicely. If the season started today, I have been told that Barry would start ahead of Honas.

    But both will play and play quite a bit. Keep in mind, with the up tempo offense of Coach Frost, the defense will need a strong rotation to stay fresh particularly as the season progresses. The trio of Young, Honas, and Barry are likely to be interchangeable.

    After the top three, is there someone to jump into the fourth spot? Unfortunately, that is where there is a significant drop off.

    First up it would seem, is sophomore Avery Roberts. Roberts has only been here for one season, but it feels as though he has already had more ups and downs than most five year players have. Perhaps one of the most heralded LB recruits NU has landed in years, Roberts arrived early last spring and we immediately heard all the ole “doesn’t look like a freshman” talk out of camp. Husker fans began to dream that he might be a first year starter. But as time passed, we heard less and less about Roberts. There was the occasional “lack of conditioning” whisper but mostly, we heard he needed more time. Roberts played on special teams last year but was never a member of the LB rotation. This spring, Coach Ruud specifically called out Roberts for his lack of dedication and conditioning. And in fact, Roberts had been passed on the depth charts by a lot of young pups, a couple of whom actually departed from the program in the summer. Speculation was rampant that Roberts would soon be leaving the program as well.

    The word now is that Roberts has changed. He has taken the criticism to heart and has worked hard and is well on his way back. It is hard to know where he stands though. Some people believe he could help us this year, others think he will need another year and will likely take a redshirt. Either way, it does seem that the luster isn’t quite there anymore. No one is suggesting he is the long term answer to all our prayers anymore. The best bet is to not expect much from Roberts this year and be pleasantly surprised if he exceeds expectations.

    From a strict ILB point of wiew, next up is likely to be walk on redshirt junior Jacob Weinmaster. A special teams contributer, Weinmaster angered Husker fans last year when injuries hit the roster and Weinmaster stepped into an increase role. Why is a sophomore walk on playing instead of all these young highly sought recruits? Of course, fans didn’t know that many of the young bucks were either also injured or were playing OLB. The truth is Weinmaster is better than some fans want to admit and he had a pretty good spring camp. If there are injuries, Weinmaster could end up playing a bigger role in 2018.

    There is a wild card in the ILB group. He is redshirt sophomore Collin Miller. Why is he a wild card? Because on the roster, he is listed as an OLB. The truth is that Miller is a versatile talent who could play any of the four LB spots. This from a young man who was recruited to play DE. Fans have thought of Miller as a potential pass rushing OLB but he spent most of last year as an ILB. Miller saw plenty of action at the end of last year due to injuries and look for him to force his way into the rotation depending on injuries and where the best opportunity lies. It’s a little matter of “when” and a lot matter of “where”.

    The 2018 recruiting class netted no ILB’s however a couple of freshmen walk ons did make the 110 man roster—Chris Cassidy and Joseph Johnson. Both are good athletes and Johnson could end up inside or outside. Anthony Banderas may also be a freshman walk on worth watching.

    Another possibility in a pinch is for one of the OLB’s (other than Miller) to move inside. Perhaps someone like redshirt sophomore Pernell Jefferson.

    In 2019, Dedrick Young will be gone—for better or worse. Everyone else is back. Obviously, Honas and Barry give NU a pretty good tandem to start with. But who would the reserves be? Will Avery Roberts be ready to make a move by then? How much can Weinmaster be counted upon? It is easy to think that Collin Miller might be moved to ILB full time by then.

    In 2020, Honas Barry, and even Weinmaster are gone. It shallows up quite a bit at this point. Roberts and Miller are all that is left.

    Obviously, ILB is a major need in this class. The good news is that NU already has strong commitments from two very talented recruits-- Nick Heinrich and Jackson Hannah. Hopefully they arrive ready to go because opportunity for quick playing time awaits. Remember that Heinrich may decide to graduate early and participate in spring ball. That is still in the air. A JUCO may not be out of the question. Look for NU to take at least two more in the class of 2020.


    Last year at this time, OLB was a real gut punch to discuss. Unfortunately, the regular season played out about the way fans initially feared. We had just switched to the 3-4 and the OLB positions were named the DOG and the CAT. The DOG position looked to be in good shape but the CAT position was a train wreck. Simply, there was no experienced pass rusher on the roster to play the position.

    A year later, the DOG and the CAT terminology are gone. Concerns about a pass rush are still valid. But there is much more hope for the OLB position.

    We’ll start with a bit of a question mark—redshirt senior Luke Gifford. Gifford emerged last year as one of our best defensive players—a guy who could never leave the field. Then he got hurt. The defense suffered as Gifford was in and out of the lineup until a further injury ended his season for good. His recovery has been slow and Gifford missed the spring. But he is back in fall camp and the coaches are happy to have him back. Gifford is just a real solid smart linebacker. A former safety, he moves well and has worked hard to add solid mass to his frame. Look for him to contribute as much as his recovery from injury will allow him.

    His reserve last year was now redshirt junior Tyrin Ferguson. Ferguson was playing so well in fact, that coaches moved Gifford to CAT in order to get both Ferguson and Gifford on the field at the same time. Then guess what happened . . . Ferguson was lost for the season with an injury. Now Ferguson is back and the new coaches absolutely love him. He had as good a spring as just about any other player and is poised for a potential breakout year. I recall when Ferguson signed, someone whose opinion I respect told me that Ferguson would be the best player in that class—quite the prediction given his modest rating. Perhaps he knew what he was talking about.

    Both Gifford and Ferguson are candidates to start this year. One player that seems sure to be in the starting lineup is sophomore transfer Breon Dixon. Ruled eligible for immediate play during the summer, Dixon instantly transforms the defense with his presence. Dixon is a disruptive high energy player with off the charts athletic ability. Dixon is said to be capable of playing nickel or safety thus giving the Huskers an extra versatility when he is on the field.

    Look for those three players to form a solid interchangeable core of players—much like the trio of ILB’s. Fortunately, the cupboard isn’t bare after these three—starting with redshirt junior Alex Davis.

    Davis is a familiar story amongst holdovers on the roster. Recruited to play DE, Davis moved to OLB last year with the new defense. Quite frankly he struggled. That wasn’t surprising because he wasn’t exactly tearing it up at DE. Davis was recruited as a raw pass rusher with little actual football experience. Davis can make awesome plays on the QB with his quickness and speed. One problem. If you put a lineman in between of him and the QB, then it is usually game over. Davis lacks physicality in a major way and has struggled to bulk up and become more physical.

    Davis had a good spring and the new coaches seemed genuinely pleased with his development. Davis had a good spring game and even grabbed an impressive interception in coverage. Like a lot of holdovers, it is hard to tell what to expect from Davis. The good news is, if he can’t get it done, he doesn’t have to see the field. If he does get it done, the potential has always been there.

    Another holdover with a similar story to tell is redshirt senior Sedrick King. King never had Davis’s perceived potential but he was a “project” recruit brought in to play DE. King played quite a bit last year and the results were just plain bad. His status is unknown. He is not on the 110 man roster leading to speculation that he may have left the team. He is still on the active roster though. Perhaps he is injured. I don’t expect him to play much anyway.

    Another OLB who is currently MIA is redshirt sophomore Quayshon Alexander. Much more talented than King, Alexander was also left off the 110 man roster amid rumors that he may have left the program. Alexander was hoped to be a pass rushing specialist, but has never made a move up the roster. Injuries have been an issue for Alexander so perhaps an injury is what is keeping him off the 110.

    Another promising player who has been rumored to potentially be leaving the program is redshirt freshman Guy Thomas. Thomas would seem to have all the tools but observers have noted that his body language suggests that he isn’t happy with his current situation. Thomas is still here but his name hardly gets mentioned for playing time. If the light ever comes on for Thomas, the talent is there.

    Redshirt sophomore Pernell Jefferson is said to have had a good summer in the weight room and looks the part. Not much is mentioned about Jefferson but there is some clay to work with (he was a former scout team MVP) and he is still young.

    One walk on to keep in mind is redshirt freshman Jordan Paup. Paup was said to have had a good spring however, he was not on the 110 man roster.

    That leaves the incoming freshmen. One name that jumps off the page is Caleb Tanner. A rare signing day positive surprise for Husker fans, Tanner has arrived in the fall with as much fanfare as any prospect not named Washington. And so far, Tanner has been said to be exceeding expectations. A beast with pass rushing skills, Tanner is as instinctive as he is athletic. There is simply no ceiling high enough to house his potential. Look for him to play and to play a lot. He could possibly force his way into the starting lineup and should be a regular in the main rotation.

    By contrast, the other incoming freshman arrives with little to no fanfare—David Alston from Minnesota. Alston is a good looking prospect with good pass rushing skills after playing DE in high school. Alston was recruited by Ivy League schools—so intelligence should also be a strong point.

    Walk on freshman Simon Otte out of York made the 110 man roster and could be worth a look.

    Remember that Collin Miller may also available if he is needed for OLB more than ILB.

    In 2019, Gifford will be gone and so definitely will be King. If Dixon, Tanner, and Ferguson are for real, this group could be one of the strengths of the team. Between Davis, Alexander, Thomas, Jefferson, and Alston, there should be plenty else to work with depending on who is still here. Look for some attrition to happen here. Also, Collin Miller may be available but as suggested, he might be needed more at ILB.

    In 2020, Ferguson and Alex Davis are gone. Dixon, Tanner and the rest should be a pretty salty unit by then.

    Look for attrition to play a big part in the recruiting strategy going forward. It is difficult to imagine all of these players being happy and staying. It will be interesting to see the rotation develop throughout the season. The staff has commitments from some players who could play linebacker. Look for them to add perhaps one true OLB to the class. If all goes well, they are recruiting to a position of strength going forward.


    After years of small numbers at linebacker and then some years bringing in talent to fill out the roster, the Huskers appear to be entering the “harvest” stage of their LB development. There are a number of young players on the verge of playing time, or on the verge of washing out. Meanwhile, it is the new guys—Honas, Dixon, and Tanner that are shaking up the roster and forcing the issue.

    Outside linebacker looks to be set for years to come while inside backer shallows up in a hurry in 2020.

    But for this year, don’t be concerned with who starts and who doesn’t. Eight to ten guys all have a chance to play and many of the reserves will play as much of the starters. The rotation looks great at the top and some opportunities are there to round out the next spots. Let the games begin.

    LATE EDIT: If only I had waited a day. It turns out that Quayshon Alexander has suffered a season ending injury. Meanwhile Cedric King is currently dealing with personal issues. His status with the team is unclear. Good luck to both young men.

    Next up, . . . the Defensive Line.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  9. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    Perhaps no fan base cares more about line play than the Nebraska fan base. Unfortunately, fans have often found their line play to be rather vanilla over the years. Aside from some highs and lows, the defensive line has been okay, but not spectacular. The Huskers have struggled to find a pass rush, and solid opponent offensive lines have generally been able to operate smoothly. The Huskers being so unathletic at linebacker and deploying “containment” strategies hasn’t helped. The switch from a 4 man front to a 3 man front has further complicated the issue. Body types are different for each front, it takes time to recruit players that fit the new scheme. Not a simple task given not only the new Head Coach but the fact that we are now on the third DC in three years.

    Last year, the pass rush was historically bad, as everyone knows. But the real gut punch was watching other teams run the ball with increasingly shocking success as the season wore on. It’s one thing for Wisconsin, Ohio State, or Penn State to run amok, but Minnesota? This wasn’t all on the DL and injuries played a part, but the performance needs to improve across the board. Hopefully, a change in culture will be positive tonic for the DL. Gone are the days of containment (so we’re told) and now we are moving to a more attacking style.

    What exactly NU has at the defensive line in 2018 is unclear. On paper, there seem to be plenty of solid looking players but do they fit the system and who will be THAT GUY that moves the needle (Suh, Collins, Gregory, etc.)? With Scott Frost up-tempo offense, the plan is to play as many defensive linemen as possible. Snaps are there for the taking. But who will be taking those snaps?

    We will be breaking down the position group by inside (DT) and outside (DE) linemen. Keep in mind that there are a plethora (do you know what the word ‘plethora’ means?) of players that can play both inside and outside and in some cases it is not clear where they fit best. Nebraska could be said to have good versatility in having so many guys that can play multiple places on the line. Keep in mind that the flip side of versatility is players lacking a true position.


    In 2018, the starting DT position belongs to RS senior Mick Stoltenberg. This one is easy. The rest gets much trickier.

    Somewhat like Dedrick Young at LB, Stoltenberg is a coaches’ favorite but not a fan favorite. Each year, each new coaching staff, we hear how impressive Stoltenberg is in camp. How big he is. How strong he is. How impossible to block he is. What a leader he is. Then the season starts and he is . . . meh . . . as far as the fans are concerned.

    The DT or more specifically, the nose tackle (NT) position, is a difficult position to judge. NU fans were spoiled by Ndamukong Suh fighting through three blockers to viciously stomp a mud hole in the opposing quarterback. Suh was a freak. The NT’s job is generally to take up blockers and space, jamming up the middle and freeing others to make plays. It’s not meant to be glamourous. Its lunch pail work. It is often difficult to measure the value of an NT’s work by statistical means.

    Stoltenberg has had to battle through injuries and this spring is no exception. Hopefully, he can stay healthy this year. He is said to be stronger than ever now and the new coaches have hinted that they might move him outside once in a while to take advantage of his athletic ability. They believe he is ready for a monster year.

    After Stoltenberg, the picture becomes a bit fuzzier. Depending on your perspective, there is a lot of depth behind Stoltenberg, or not much of anything behind him. Take your pick. But the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    First up, would be RS senior Peyton Newell. This is the third straight spring that Newell was in line to be a top backup. In past years, Newell was nowhere to be found in the rotation when the season started. Quite frankly, he has struggled. Being on the cusp of relevancy so long, it was time for Newell to make a change or fade away. This past off season, Newell made as big a gain as anyone in Zach Duval’s strength and conditioning program. Newell is stronger and more explosive than he has ever been and looks to be first up backing up Stoltenberg.

    Right behind him is perhaps the other end of the spectrum. Whereas Newell is a veteran player with little perceived potential trying any way to find the field for his final year, redshirt freshman Damion Daniels is a highly regarded young player who just may be the future of the NT position. Daniels almost didn’t redshirt last year. It was perhaps a shame the 4 game redshirt rule wasn’t in effect last year as Daniels certainly would have played four games and might not have ended up redshirting. But then again, Daniels needed the year to reshape his body. Now he is ready to roll and Husker fans have high hopes Damon for this year and the especially the future.

    After the top 3 are three players who play anywhere along the DLine and are listed in fact at DE. True Sophomore Deontre Thomas seemed a bit small for the NT position but more than held his own as a true freshman back up to Stoltenberg last year. Thomas features quickness and surprising strength in his arsenal. It is hard to get a read on how the new staff regards Thomas. Perhaps he is the guy on the roster who might be the most appropriately label as a “tweener.” He seems perfect for the other DT position on a 4-3 front, and not much has been said about him after he moved to DE. He has talent. It’s easy to imagine him playing a lot or conversely not much at all. He could even grab a redshirt. His development could be interesting to watch.

    The other two guys who have played some NT just happen to share a last name. Redshirt junior twin brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis can play anywhere along the line. Carlos Davis was a regular starter at DE last year and therefore played very little NT if any at all. Meanwhile Khalil Davis was the ball clubs most versatile backup as he played everywhere on the line. Don’t expect to see a lot of the Davis twins at NT (especially Carlos) in the standard defense this year as they are probably more comfortable at DE. However, the staff could get creative on passing downs and swing one (or both) of the Davis twins inside to booster the pass rush.

    Graduate transfer junior Vaha Vainuku arrived this fall as yet another candidate to grab some quality snaps at NT. A mountain of a man, most fans consider Vainuku as a true NT although it is said that he will play anywhere on the line. This would be true especially if we go with the occasional four man fronts and slide Vainuku to the other DT slot. Vainuku is an interesting story in that he had taken a medical hardship and is now returning to football. Despite his size, Vainuku will need a bit of fall camp to get his football legs back under him but brings an invaluable wealth of experience from his days at Utah. Vainuku is a very rare graduate transfer, a transfer with two full years of eligibility.

    Walk on junior Fyn Anderson is another DLineman capable of playing inside or outside. Fyn was on the 110 man roster.

    In 2019, Stoltenberg and Newell will be gone. That would leave Daniels, Vainuku, and perhaps Thomas as the principal NT’s. The Davis twins will also be available if needed. Hopefully Daniels will be ready for prime time at this point, but rather he is or isn’t the staff was able to land a commitment from JUCO NT Tony Fair who, if signed as expected, would arrive in the spring with two years to play two. Fair should provide insurance in case Daniels struggles or quality depth otherwise.

    In 2020, Vainuku leaves but the remainder of the pack remains unless you included the departing Davis twins as part of this group. Hopefully Daniels and Fair are a solid tandem at this point.

    The Huskers should be in the market for a High School NT for this year and look for them to do the same next year. The numbers are just a bit shallow at the 2020 and 2021 end of the pool. Something to keep an eye on. It is also possible that Ethan Piper, a current lineman commit, may bulk up enough to move inside eventually.


    Perhaps no positions were impacted by the switch to the 3-4 than the DE positions. First of all, many of the then current DE’s moved to OLB. Secondly, DE’s in a 4-3 front generally require a bit of a different body type than DE’s in a 3-4. Looking at the current roster, it seems that many of our DE’s lack the length (Height, wing span) that new DC Erik Chinander looks for in his defensive line. That said, the position is not without some talent. In fact, 3 or 4 guys will probably be rotated very liberally throughout the season. The battle for the starting spots is an interesting one to watch. Flip a coin on who starts. In any case, there are plenty of reps to be had.

    First up might be redshirt sophomore Ben Stille. After spending last year moving back and forth between DE and OLB, Stille appears to be entrenched now at DE. It can be said that last year is a year to forget. But if that is true, in injustice might be done to Stille who quite frankly emerged seemingly from nowhere to become one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreadful season. Stille is a weight room warrior with solid pass rushing skills—he led the team in TFL’s and sacks last year in spite of initially playing very little. Granted, leading the Husker in sacks was about like being the best checkers player on Mars—but still it was impressive. Stille has good size, strength, and toughness but perhaps his best attribute might be his motor. Husker fans hope that his play last year was just the beginning of a great career.

    Next up would be redshirt senior Freedom Akinmoladun. Freedom is a bit of a curiosity and has had an up and down career. He spent his redshirt year at TE and moved to DE the following year. He immediately impressed and moved into the starting lineup. In the first half of his initial season, he showed good pass rushing skills on a team desperate for pass rushers (sound familiar?). Then he got hurt. That was the last time anybody ever accused Akinmoladun of being a good pass rusher. Simply put, he has never been the same player since his injury. In fact, Freedom bulked up and seemed to lose any of his speed and quickness. Now in his final campaign, Freedom worked hard with Zach Duval and is stronger than ever before in spite of working to regain speed and quickness. If Freedom can regain his earlier pass rushing form, he has the tools to be very successful in Coach Chinander’s scheme.

    The last probable challenger for one of the two starting spots is redshirt junior Carlos Davis. Carlos moved outside last year with the change to the 3-4 and had a pretty nice year. One of the team leaders in TFL’s and sacks, Davis was one of the few Huskers capable of disrupting the opponents’ offense. Always graded as one of the strongest players on the team, Carlos is said to be stronger than ever with the new strength and conditioning program. The knock against Carlos (and his twin brother Khalil) is that he isn’t particularly lengthy for a DE—making him a bit of a tweener. But his strength and athletic ability gives him valuable versatility that the coaching staff will try to take advantage of. Look for him to be included in some interesting packages this year.

    After the main three guys, there really isn’t much drop off, if any, to the fourth DE. Redshirt junior Khalil Davis is so much like his twin brother Carlos that it often seems redundant to talk about both of them in much detail. What can be said about one can often be said about the other. Most of what was said about Carlos in the previous paragraph can be applied to Carlos. Freakishly strong, Khalil spent a good deal of time at the NT spot last year whereas Carlos played DE. Injuries set Khalil back a bit early in his career but he began to make his presence felt last year. In fact, there were a couple of games where Khalil completely took over for periods at a time. Khalil also was among the leaders in TFL’s and sacks. Length again is Khalil’s one main setback, but like Carlos, look for the staff to be creative in getting Khalil in different match ups on the field to take advantage of his strength and athleticism.

    So 3 or 4 guys should rotate at the DE position (and possibly move inside from time to time), but the cupboard is not bare at that point.

    Fans have been waiting for redshirt junior DaiShon Neal to make a move up the depth chart seemingly since he arrived on campus. But Neal has been mostly MIA for most of his career battling the occasional injuries in addition to his ineffective play. Some fans had given up hope. Then this spring, Neal had a solid spring. Dedication to Duval’s strength and fitness program and a newfound confidence and determination impressed the staff. Neal topped it off with a fine performance in the Spring Game and suddenly he was a popular topic of conversation with the fans again. It remains to be seen exactly where he figures in the coaches plans but his size and length are both things that cannot be coached.

    True sophomore Deontre Thomas represents the probable last candidate to join any rotation at DE. As already covered, Thomas played DT last year but has moved outside to DE. Thomas has the strength that enabled him to hold up to the NT position last year, but he has the quickness and disruptive ability that hopefully translates well to the outside position. As speculated, it is hard to tell where Thomas stands with the current staff but some folks consider him potential wild card for the 2018 season.

    Redshirt freshman Chris Walker moved to DE from OT and he has great strength and good length. Like OT, there may be a question about his quickness and footwork and it is possible he will need a season to get himself acclimated to the new position. Luckily, there is no hurry. Walker is a leader in the weight room so work ethic will not be a problem.

    Two returning walk ons made the 110 man roster—Redshirt junior Fyn Anderson who can play anywhere along the line and redshirt freshmen Damian Jackson.

    As for freshmen, the Huskers landed two prized DE’s who arrived in fall camp. Tate Wildeman out of Colorado verballed to Mike Riley’s staff and stayed committed to Coach Frost after the coaching change. NU is glad to have him. With his size, length, and athletic ability, Wildeman may be the blueprint at what the new staff wants at the DE position. Meanwhile Casey Rogers out of New York is a little less heralded recruit but comes with plenty of enthusiasm and promise. Given the depth at the position, redshirts seem to be in order but don’t be surprised if Wildeman especially sees some quality time within the 4 game redshirt rule.

    In addition, true freshman walk on Ryan Schommer made the 110 man roster and could be a walk on to keep an eye on. Also, true freshman walk on Colton Feist did not make the 110 man roster. The staff is high on Feist however, his future position is unknown. He starts at DE, but could move to ILB or perhaps move inside to DT eventually. Don’t be surprised if he gets added to the 110 later in camp if injuries strike.

    And finally, also remember that graduate transfer junior Vaha Vainuku could see some action at DE in addition to his playing time at NT.

    In 2019, Freedom Akinmoladun is gone. But the rest of the gang is back. The Davis twins, Thomas, Neal, Walker, Wildeman, Rogers, and Vainuku should give the coaches plenty of depth to work with.

    In 2020, the Davis twins, Neal, and Vainuku will be gone. Hopefully Wildeman and Rogers are ready to go by that point and Walker and Thomas have established themselves.

    Look for the Huskers to sign 2 or 3 DE’s each year in an effort to stock the room with their prototype of what they want their DE’s to look like in the next two years. To that end, the Huskers have already received verbals from three players who could play DE—Mosai Newsom, Garrett Nelson, and the previously mentioned Ethan Piper. Of the three, Newsom is the one true DE, whereas Nelson is an athlete who could play multiple positions and Piper is a versatile lineman who could play multiple positions on both sides of the ball—including possibly DT. The Husker are still on the market for one or two more DE’s.


    Two words that were stressed in the previous paragraphs were versatility and length. It’s no secret that the coaches would like to add more length to the DL room but the versatility is intriguing. There are so many possible combinations that the coaches could throw out there, it is almost impossible to consider them all properly within this summary

    It should be fun to watch how creative the coaches get in rotating players and moving players around to take advantage of the versatility and at times keeping players away from their weak points. Accentuate the positive, deemphasize the negative. That just may be the ticket to a successful 2018.

    As for recruiting, adding the JUCO DT may turn out to be a master addition by the staff. With a little luck and creativity, the depth looks like it could hold up nicely until the staff can restock the DL room in time for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

    Next up . . . the Offensive Backfield—QB and RB.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  10. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    Perhaps the most dramatic makeover on the 2018 Husker roster will at the QB and RB positions. Both rooms have seen radical change, and yet their stories are polar opposites.

    At QB, everyone who has played QB at Nebraska is gone—including last years’ starter and his backup—but not due to graduation. After losing a four year starter and his backup the year before, Nebraska enters its second straight season without a QB who has ever taken a snap for the Huskers. Folks, that is hard to do.

    Meanwhile at RB, EVERYONE returns. And yet, not one of the returning players has any guarantee that he will see the field at all in 2018.

    The battle at QB is for the right to be this year’s (and maybe the next four years’) starter. The battle at RB isn’t so much a battle to be the top guy, but a battle to see who will be in the rotation.

    Let’s take a closer look.


    Nebraska fans have endured and endured and endured. After enduring seven years of some of the most erratic and mind-numbing QB play in the history of college football, Nebraska fans were treated to a chaotic, interception-laden, pick-6 fest last season. Quite frankly, QB play has been bad for a long time now. Worse than some fans can admit to themselves. Granted, there have been some highs, but for each high there was always an inevitable thump when reality came crashing down.

    This year it all starts over . . . again. Gone is Tanner Lee to the NFL. Gone is Patrick O’Brien who was no longer a fit. Now there is new hope. The good news is that there is talent competing for this year’s starting job. The bad news is that this starter will very likely be a freshman—not exactly a proven tonic for turning around QB play.

    Much has been said and speculated regarding the current QB battle. Who will win the QB battle? It seems like everyone knows the answer. The answer is . . .

    Okay, let’s take a look.

    Will start with redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia, only because he was here last year. In fact, he graduated HS early and was here for spring practice last year as well. He represents one of the few constants in the reshaping of the QB room. To put in simply, Gebbia represents “arm talent” in this QB Opera. He is said to be accurate, poised, and possessing of an arm that can make all the throws. He is also a film rat, a natural leader, and a young man that fans are really pulling for. He impressed the new coaches with his attitude and leadership and he appears the have good “decision making” tools, although the final verdict on that score is still pending game day performance.

    But can he run?

    Tristan Gebbia was recruited to play another system. Skeptics have doubts that he can run this system. To be fair, few doubt Gebbia’s potential as a QB. The doubt is specific to Frost’s QB run heavy system. The argument-counterargument debate could take several novels to sufficiently cover. Briefly, Frost’s system may not quite be as run heavy as some fans believe. However, it is important that the QB at least be capable enough at running to keep the defense honest. Gebbia’s supporters point out that Gebbia was a capable runner in HS and is isn’t exactly immobile. Gebbia isn’t a blazer by any imagination but seems to show enough speed and running ability to get the job done. Skeptics would point out that being okay at running the ball isn’t necessarily enough. In any case, Gebbia appears to have the talent to run the passing portion of Frost’s offense very well, the verdict is still out on the running portion. One issue concerning Gebbia’s running is his slight build. Can he hold up running the football and taking hits in the Big 10? To that point, Gebbia has bulked up quite a bit from the rale thin player that arrived last year. Look for him to continue to bulk up as he continues to develop.

    The next up is true freshman, Adrian Martinez. Normally, true freshmen wouldn’t be the next up but Adrian is not your average freshman. Like Gebbia the year before, Martinez graduated HS early and fully participated in the spring. This gives him a tremendous leg up in getting his college career started. To put it simply, Martinez is “leg talent” in this QB Opera. Whereas Gebbia hopes to develop into a decent runner (think Colt McCoy maybe), Martinez is speedy and absolutely electric running with the football. He has moves to go with his speed, and has the size to lower his shoulder when he needs to.

    But can he throw?

    The good news is that it appears that he can. Martinez missed his senior year of HS and his shoulder was said to be about 80% during spring ball. That 80% looked pretty darn good in the spring game. His critics would point out that he didn’t exactly throw a beautiful spiral. However, he demonstrated an ability to get the ball where it needed to be. With his shoulder now closer to 100% (if not all the way healed), he should be even better. Martinez has a confident demeanor that inspires confidence from teammates, coaches, and even fans. His supporters would point out that Martinez was specifically recruited by Frost and fits his system to a tee.

    So. . . Gebbia or Martinez? Fans have been debating that one all summer. Smart money is on Martinez (especially long term) IF he is everything he has been billed to be. Nebraska fans love running QB’s, some fans love running QB’s even if they can’t hit a barn with a football even if they were standing directly in front of it. But some fans may be a little disappointed that Scott Frost isn’t bringing Frank Solich’s “QB left, QB right, QB left, QB right” offense back to Lincoln. The QB for his system will have to be able to throw, run, run the read-option, and most importantly . . . make good decisions—fast twitch decisions. Making great decisions isn’t exactly a forte of freshmen QB’s. With either man, there will likely be some bumps. Fans will need to be patient. We all know how patient Nebraska fans are. If either of these QB’s struggle, “Bring-in-the-backup QB” guy is likely to be loud and obnoxious. Brace yourselves.

    It is possible both will play, especially early. The coaches have stated their distaste of a two-QB system and as well as a desire to name a starter so that the team can rally around him. I would point out that a big question mark that hasn’t truly been discussed is the subject of injuries. Can Gebbia stand up to the beating of the Big 10 conference? Martinez missed his entire senior season and hasn’t played football in two years. Chances are, both players will get a chance at some point. They are both talented. Fans are divided on who they like better. Just hope that at least one of them takes the reigns and leads us strongly into the Frost era.

    Officially—although some fans refuse to buy into it—this has not been a 2 QB race. There are actually a couple of other guys who have gotten a pretty good look. Walk on redshirt sophomore Andrew Bunch isn’t your typical walk on. Bunch actually played JUCO ball his freshman year before deciding to walk on to Nebraska as a transfer. Bunch had a very solid spring capped off with an eye-raising performance in the spring game. Scott Frost has been on record that he was very pleasantly surprised with Andrew Bunch. What’s not to like? He has a good arm, and he is a very solid runner with good speed. In fact, if you were to take Gebbia’s and Martinez’s running and passing strengths and blend them together (plusses and minuses) into one person, you would likely end up with something pretty close to Andrew Bunch. Bunch is said to be part of the starting QB battle. His involvement in that battle was no joke, he has earned his way into that consideration. However, it does appear that he is third depth chart wise—which isn’t such a bad place to be with two freshmen facing live bullets for the first time. Nebraska has learned in recent years the hard way, what can happen if you have no third string QB. At the least, Bunch is a considerable upgrade in that regard. If there are injuries or poor performances at the top, Scott Frost would likely not have any hesitation to go to Andrew Bunch.

    If you’re looking for a fourth option for 2018, there really isn’t one. Transfer true sophomore Noah Vedral will not be eligible in 2018. A good athlete that played as a freshman for Frost at UCF last year, Vedral arrived in the spring and had a good camp not only with his play but also with his valuable help getting the other QB’s up to speed in the new system. There are those who think Vedral will only be a “nice backup” player at Nebraska. That may turn out to be the case but Vedral is smart, knows the offense, can make all the plays with both his arm and his legs, and Frost loves him. Depending on what happens this year, he could be a serious factor moving forward.

    The only other QB in the room right now is true freshman walk on Matt Masker. Masker made the 110 man roster and has good overall skills. It’s always nice to have a decent walk on in your depth chart at QB, but Masker will need some time before he could be a good emergency backup.

    In 2019, everybody is back. Maybe. One of the most speculated talking points this summer is what will happen to the QB that loses out on the QB job. Will he be content to be a backup? Or would he transfer? Of course, most fans assume that Gebbia is more likely to transfer than Martinez since Martinez is such a perfect fit and Gebbia is a bit of a wedged fit. Let’s just say that happens--either of them leaves. Hopefully that would mean one of the two is well on his way to a brilliant four year career. You would still have Bunch as a backup. Vedral would now be eligible. You still have three QB’s. As transfers, I tend to believe Bunch and Vedral (especially Vedral) are unlikely to transfer again. Furthermore, Scott Frost has already landed a verbal from Luke McCaffrey. Given the new 4 game redshirt rule, McCaffrey could even serve as your emergency 4th string QB. And that is IF one of the QB’s transfer. The depth looks better in 2019 than it does for 2018.

    In 2020, still nobody is scheduled to be gone. AND . . . NU has already secured a commitment from speedy Logan Smothers for that class. With Smothers speed and over all abilities, he might be another player that could be said to be a perfect fit for Scott Frost’s offense.

    Recruiting is done for this position—for a long time. Just hope there are no decommits (none are expected) and that both of the recruited QB’s get thru the rest of their HS careers healthy and in good shape.

    Offensive Backfield - To be continued on next post . . .
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  11. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    Offensive Backfield . . . continued from previous post.


    Three years under Mike Riley, no thousand yard rushers. The days of the Roy Helu, Rex Burkhead, and Ameer Abdullah RB pipeline seem long gone.

    This year looks to be a free-for-all fighting for carries. The roster is now deep with RB’s who have some skills and/or experience. In terms of “capable” bodies, there might not be a deeper position on the roster. It is said that Scott Frost generally uses up to four backs throughout the season. And of course, the four backs in September might not be the same four in November. Competition is fierce.

    But does capable mean excellence? Frankly, some of the backs have had multiple opportunities to prove themselves, but haven’t taken that next step. Issues with the offensive line have hurt, but still fans long for that great feature RB Nebraska is noted for. To that end, Scott Frost has recruited some serious talent to shake up the RB room. As it stands, the room is a fascinating combination of potentially great, experienced, and merely capable. Some of these backs will compete to be the feature back while others will be competing for solid reserve roles.

    One quick note on the battle for reserve playing time. Ball security is going to paramount. With so many options, so many guys that are good but necessarily great battling for carries, why would Scott Frost continue to play someone who can’t hang on to the football? Don’t be surprised if someone fumbles a couple of times early in the year, then disappears from the rotation.

    Going back to last year, things actually got off to a pretty good start as then true sophomore Tre Bryant rushed for 298 yards in the first seven quarters. Unfortunately, the running game went thud at that point (as everything else did last year) when Bryant had to be helped off the field with a knee injury that would end his season. Bryant has had chronic knee issues and some fans thought his career to be over. Bryant was granted a medical for last season and returns as a redshirt sophomore. Bryant worked hard in his rehab and has surprised many folks with how far he has made it back. It is hard to say what to expect from Bryant though. He is participating fully in fall ball however, the coaches are keeping a watchful eye on him.

    It seems doubtful that Bryant’s knees will ever be able to withstand being the feature back. But if his knees can stand up to perhaps a less punishing workload, perhaps Bryant can carve out a nice role for himself. He is a good runner with decent speed, power, and blocking and catching ability out of the backfield. There are those who believe that Bryant lacks being a home run threat as his one true weakness (although he looked pretty good taking a swing pass to the house as a freshman). But if true, he does everything else well. Fans will be rooting for him. It is likely that things will have to be taken season by season and game by game with Bryant the rest of his career.

    Normally, I would go through the holdovers here, but incoming JUCO junior Greg Bell arrived in the spring and seems the odds on choice to be the feature back in 2018. Bell is the home run threat the Huskers have lacked since Abdullah graduated and was regarded as the #1 JUCO RB recruit by many services. He is big and fast—with enough speed to run around and past defenders and the size to run thru them. He is good on sweeps or straight ahead. In the spring game, he demonstrated very good ability in screens and the passing game. Blocking and knowledge of the playbook are his main issues (as you would expect) but he is having a good fall camp in that regard. In the spring, the coaches challenged his conditioning a bit (as they did most of the RB’s) and Bell was said to have had a great summer in that regard. It was said in the spring that Bell was just running on instincts but now in the fall he is much more comfortable. He should be exciting to watch.

    Next up are three holdovers who at this point are probably fighting for carries in a reserve role. We’ll start with redshirt senior Mikale Wilbon. Fans just love arguing about Wilbon. Some folks see him as a dynamic home run threat who is great out of the backfield catching passes and dangerous in the open field. Skeptics would simply repy that we have seen none of those traits on Saturdays. His supporters would counter that we have never seen him in the open field as he usually has to break three tackles to get to the line of scrimmage. Back and forth it goes but the reality is that tick, tick, tick, the clock is ticking and WIlbon is just about out of time for a breakout season.

    Last year, in his most extensive playing time, Wilbon found tough sledding. In his defense, he ran hard. Unfortunately, most of his most impressive runs were the type where he turned a two yard loss into a two yard gain-hardly the stuff of a home run hitter. There are those who believe Wilbon has a chance to be as high as the #2 guy in the rotation. There are just as many who think who could slide out of the top four altogether. To his credit, Wilbon reported for fall ball in excellent shape.

    Fans enjoy debating about the virtues or faults of senior Devine Ozigbo almost as much as they enjoy debating Wilbon. Ozigbo is the odd man in the group, he is a big bodied back. His career has been full of ups and downs. As a true freshman, he worked himself into the rotation with surprising quickness and elusiveness in the open field for a big man. Early in his second season, Ozigbo looked like he might be taking over the top spot. But then his performance just fell off the map. Later an injury was revealed and Ozigbo dropped out of sight. During his junior year, he didn’t see the field until the coaches completely ran out of all other options. Then, Ozigbo was a bowling ball runner having some success but not displaying the quickness he had shown earlier. Ozigbo had some moments in the spring game, running hard and helping to spearhead a touchdown drive. Over the summer, Ozigbo has demonstrated a great attitude and has been said to have reshapped his body and is faster and quicker than ever. A good pass catcher, look for Ozigbo to have at the very least a carved role in short yardage situations. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with a greater role. Many believe he does not fit in a Scott Frost offense and have counted him out, but that may be as much an insult to Coach Frost as it is to Ozigbo. There may be one game on our schedule where Ozigbo’s running style is the style to get the job done. If so, he could have 20 carries in that one game, and 20 carries the rest of the year.

    Next up would be true sophomore Jaylen Bradley. Unlike Wilbon or Ozigbo, Bradley is not at the end his career rope trying to hang on. Last year, Bradley saw his playing time increase and provided a nice spark before injury issues seemed to steal his momentum. The word on Bradley is that the coaches like him but he is just slightly behind the others a bit. His style is been mostly compared to Wilbon’s and perhaps Wilbon is blocking Bradley. In any case, Bradley is a smooth instinctive runner with good speed and pass catching ability. The little things of playing RB are the things holding Bradley back. He has been said to be working hard on those things. He’s young and he has time. Don’t be surprised if he is out of the rotation, but in a position to move into the rotation if some of the RB’s struggle with ball security, injury, or overall production.

    Nebraska actually has a couple of walk ons that are pretty good, but the competition is just probably too much. Redshirt junior Wyatt Mazour is a fan favorite and has been mentioned as a guy who could sneak into the rotation the past two years. Injuries to others might have made that happen last year, but unfortunately Mazour was hurt as well. Mazour will probably see time on special teams and possibly as a kickoff returner. In an emergency, he would be a reasonably good option. Another walk on, redshirt senior Austin Rose is in much same boat (although clearly behind Mazour) and should see time on special teams.

    Now for the incoming freshmen. The competition really heats up with the addition of two dynamic playmakers.

    Maurice Washington wasn’t expected to graduate much less qualify –thus many teams backed off of his recruitment. Nebraska was all in and spent a great deal of time helping Washington to plot a course to get his academics in order. Sometime in the summer, word was that Washington would likely graduate, but he would have to be an academic redshirt—whatever that is. Then, about a week before fall camp, Husker fans got the best surprise they could have asked for—Washington was a full qualifier and was cleared to start fall ball.

    Washington arrived days later. His weight was down—reportedly 170 pounds. Fans were warned to be patient as he likely needed to get into football shape after working so hard to qualify. Then practice started and Washington is the talk of the camp. So much for patience and curbing expectations. Washington might be the best back we have brought in since Ameer Abdullah. Frankly, he is a star in the making. It will be interesting to see how Frost handles his playing time. As good as he’s looked, he does need to add some weight. But there is talk that he could join Bell as the featured back. Washington is a great athlete who would be a big time CB recruit if it wasn’t for his running. If all goes well, he should be well on his way to stardom by the end of 2018.

    The other freshman is Miles Jones who is actually listed as a WR. Jones is a dynamic explosive athlete who fits the new hybrid RB/WR position at Nebraska. Jones is electric with the ball in his hands and could be dynamic as a kick returner as well. Jones was one of the bigger prizes in last year’s class and was expected to be in line for immediate playing time. Jones has missed a few practices due to (hopefully a minor) injury, so news on him in fall camp has been limited.

    That’s a lot of names. A lot of guys fighting for every carry they can get. In 2019, Wilbon and Ozigbo will be gone. But by then, we should have a pretty good idea what is there between Bell, Bryant, Washington, Bradley, Jones, and even Mazour. The staff is not done loading the cupboard. No less than three running backs are verballed for next year’s class and the staff is still recruiting RB’s. There is some speculation that the current three verbals won’t necessarily be the three brought in by the staff. But look for the staff to bring in three regardless of what combination of backs it takes.

    In 2020, Bell and Mazour are gone but the position should be well stocked by then. It seems logical that the staff would look to bring in a quality back in 2020.


    Recruiting is all but done for these positions for awhile. And what a job the staff has done to restock the two respective positions. This year alone, the staff brought in Adrian Martinez and Noah Vedral at QB and Greg Bell, Maurice Washington, and Miles Jones at RB. That is a serious haul especially considering all but Washington and Jones were here in the spring. But it doesn’t stop there. As stated, NU has verbals from a QB for both the next classes and three verbals for next year at RB.

    As for 2018, the QB battle has everyone’s attention. It is rare to see such a battle between two well liked and respected freshman QB’s who are on one hand similarly talented but on the other hand completely different styles of QB’s Husker fans will likely cheer for one or the other to win out, but the truth is, NU needs one of these guys to step up and grow up in a hurry. The RB battle is wide open but there is plenty of top end talent at the top and some solid reliable useful runners to provide the needed depth.

    NU fans hope that 2018 is the year of discovery at these two positions and 2019 and beyond are years of incredible harvest.

    Next up . . . WR and TE.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  12. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    Two position groups that have seen some bizarre recruiting in recent years.

    At TE, Bo Pelini had a habit of waiting until every single TE on the roster was set about to graduate before even thinking about recruiting any successors. He got lucky with Cethan Carter years ago, but Mike Riley did not get so lucky inheriting a similar mess 4 years later. I recall three years ago saying that if Matt Snyder isn’t for real, we were in deep trouble at TE. Well, Snyder was a bust and last year was not pretty. Granted, a walk on senior set the Husker record for receptions by a TE, but the TE blocking was horrid—which didn’t help the struggling OL despite playing two TE sets most of the year. But after the attempt to quickly plug Snyder into his initial partial class didn’t pan out, Riley actually looks like he may have scored with some recruits in his next two classes.

    At WR, it was supposed to be different. Everyone knew that the Huskers were losing a dynamic trio of receivers after 2016. But with Riley’s best recruiter working the position, it seemed just a matter of time until the position was restocked. But things did not go well. Two frustrating last second decommits, the coach arrested for drunk driving with a 5* recruit in town, an incoming early arriving freshman left school after spring ball, another incoming freshman suspended barely into the school year, another freshman injured and lost for the season, a verballed recruit was incarcerated and didn’t even graduate, and of course, don’t even think we would even try to recruit a JUCO. The position shallowed up last year for the first time since Callahan arrived. Then, as the Huskers seemed on the verge of landing a historically good WR class, Riley was fired and the commits all scattered and Frost was faced with the daunting task of starting over and needing immediate results. Luckily, Frost was up to that challenge.

    Both positions now look pretty good moving forward.


    Since Bill Callahan arrived, the key to the WR room has been to be in the top 6. Little has changed in that regard. The top three are your “starters” but the next three will likely see serious playing time. When Frost arrived, the top looked pretty solid, but after that things tapered off rather quickly. Last year, when injuries struck, Nebraska had some guys on the field who they weren’t comfortable with. Hopefully, last year will be the exception to the rule going forward.

    The current WR core tends to come in twos. Two returning receivers coming off record setting years. Two young talented second year players coming off disappointing seasons due to injury or inconsistent play. Two incoming JUCOs. Two incoming freshmen who could end up at TE. We’ll look at the position with that in mind.

    Senior Stanley Morgan Jr. is back and quite frankly may be the best player on the team. Morgan set a school record last year for receiving yards in a season just missing the 1,000 yard mark. Morgan might have made that milestone had he not missed a game with an injury. In addition, Morgan went through a period of the dropsies after his neck injury (possibly due to the injury) and his fumble against Wisconsin basically killed any chance for a comeback. But this is the exception, not the norm. Normally very sure handed, Morgan does everything a WR is supposed to do—runs great routes, wins jump balls, can handle physical defenders, and makes big catches. Morgan is not a blazer but his speed plays. He will be counted on to lead the young group this season. Some advice for whomever wins the QB job, throw the ball to Morgan a lot.

    Another guy the QB’s may want to throw the ball to is redshirt sophomore JD Spielman. Spielman had a season for the record books last year as he set a record for receiving yards in a game and most yards receiving for the season by a freshman. To start it all off, he merely ran a kickoff 99 yards to pay dirt the very first time he touched a ball as a Husker. Not bad for someone that some of the scouting services stated lacked explosiveness. Spielman was a RB in High School and could have played his freshman year but the position was so stacked they decided not to burn his shirt. Spielman is a smallish receiver who relies on good speed but great quickness and shiftiness. He is also very strong as he comes from a storied football background and is no stranger to the weight room. The sky is the limit for Spielman in Frost’s office. He is a perfect fit and was actually recruited by Frost when he was at UCF. He had some injuries late last year, so that might be something to key an eye on.

    Morgan and Spielman give the Huskers as good of a dynamic duo as any team in the country. The question now becomes who will fill the slots behind them.

    First up would be sophomore Tyjon Lindsey. Lindsey came to Lincoln as one of the highest recruits Nebraska had landed in a long time. His initial season did not go as expected. Lindsey seemed to grab about one 4 to 8 yard catch a game and his sweeps netted very little as the coaching staff tried to get him touches. Then in the offseason, Lindsey (and teammate Dylan Owen) had Husker fans running to the internet to look up the word “rhabdomyolysis” as he was hospitalized with that condition during early workouts. From that low point, Lindsey has bounced back and had a good spring camp (topped off with a solid spring game performance) and has worked hard in the summer. Lindsey is an explosive talent and he and the coaching staff appear on the same page. Huge things are expected of Lindsey.

    Next up would be redshirt freshman Jaevon McQuitty. McQuitty was part of the same class as Lindsey and actually arrived before Lindsey as he was an early enrollee. However, an injury limited his participation in spring ball. A solid summer put McQuitty in line for a nice spot in the rotation when a knee injury suffered in fall camp ended his season. McQuitty had a great spring, looked good in the spring game, and came to fall camp very much in the coaches’ plans. McQuitty isn’t a burner but has good speed, size, and physicality. McQuitty is smooth in everything he does and should be a nice addition to the rotation.

    Next up would be the two incoming JUCOs. We will start with junior Mike Williams because he was here in the spring. Speed, speed, speed. Williams is fast. He was not particularly highly rated out of JUCO ball which is perplexing since he was a key player in his team’s winning the JUCO National Championship. Besides his blazing speed, Williams is said to be the strongest player on the team—pound for pound. Williams is the home run threat that Nebraska needs at the WR position. A spot in the top 6 is his.

    Next up is the second incoming JUCO, junior Jaron Woodyard. Woodyard was originally slated to join the team in the spring but couldn’t quite get his academics done in time so he finished up his classwork and joined the Huskers in the fall. Woodyard and Williams are familiar with one another, their teams faced each other in the JUCO National Championship Game. That is not all they have in common. Did I say Williams was fast? Well, Woodyard might be a tick faster. The two have a friendly competition about who is fastest, but as someone once described as “runs well” I say when you’re that fast, what does it matter? Given he just arrived, it seems a bit premature to anoint Woodyard as a member of the six man rotation, but it seems like just a matter of time.

    Now that is likely the top 6 as it currently stands. However, that doesn’t mean that these are the only 6 that will play or that others won’t challenge for playing time. Six is probably the floor rather than the ceiling. There are a vast number of other players trying work themselves into position for playing time.

    Freshman Justin McGriff was here for spring ball and impressed. McGriff is 6’6” and was one of two receivers recruited who could end up at TE. For McGriff, it seems that the plan is to play him at WR for a year or two and let him grow into a TE eventually. The idea of a 6’6” TE with the speed of a WR has Husker fans dreaming of the potential mismatches and wiping the drool from their chins. It is unclear what the plan is for McGriff in 2018. It seems very likely he will play, but will he play just 4 games and then take a redshirt? That may depend as much on the play of the rest of the receivers as much as McGriff's play.

    Redshirt senior walk on Bryan Reimers is no stranger to playing time. After catching a key touchdown pass against Oregon as a sophomore, Reimers struggled last year and his third down drop may have been the final nail in NU’s coffin in their painful loss to NIU. But Reimers provides a big target with plenty of experience and is available should injuries strike the roster.

    Another walk on who has seen playing time is redshirt junior Conor Young. Young is very fast but has struggled with injuries. He finally recorded a couple of catches last year after having his first career reception called back due to penalty early in the year.

    Other returning walk ons of note . . . redshirt sophomore Todd Honas was targeted quite often in the spring game and didn’t look overwhelmed. Redshirt freshman Kade Warner took a pass to the house in the spring game and isn’t your normal walk on—his father is Kurt Warner. Redshirt freshman Christian Banker also made the 110 man roster.

    This fall, more help arrives. Freshman Katerian Legrone was recruited as a WR/TE and he will be started at TE. Meanwhile, incoming freshman Andre Hunt is a WR all the way and looks like a good one. He has made a bit of a splash in camp and could be in line for some early playing time. Unfortunately, highly regarded recruit Dominick Watt has not been cleared by the NCAA as of yet though the staff is confident he will be eventually cleared. Watt is a dynamic talent who would have absolutely been in line for immediate playing time. The clearing delay leaves his immediate prospects for playing time in question (assuming he does in fact qualify).

    Another dynamic freshman that arrived this fall is hybrid RB/WR Miles Jones. It is hard to know how to classify Jones in that he was recruited to play the new hybrid position—part RB, part WR. As stated in the RB review, Jones is explosive with a ball in his hands. He is being counted on to play right away on offense and as a potentially explosive kick returner. A slight injury in camp has held him back but look great things from Jones. He was one of the prizes of last year’ recruiting class.

    Incoming freshman walk on Bennett Folkers made the 110 man roster.

    In 2019, Stanley Morgan is gone hopefully to make a name for himself in the NFL. Bryan Reimers is also gone. That means that the entire rest of the group moves up a slot and there is plenty of talent to be a deep, productive group.

    In 2020, Mike Williams and Jaron Woodyard are gone as would be walk on Conor Young. That would leave seven current scholarship receivers still on the roster (assuming Watts makes it) although it is possible McGriff joins Legrone in the TE room by then.

    Look for the Huskers to keep adding to the depth at WR. They have one recruit verballed so far for 2019 and are looking for additional help particularly athletic players who could potentially play multiple positions—thus increasing their roster flexibility. The numbers look to stay fairly solid through 2020 but it will be important not to become complacent and to continue to add talent and competition to the WR room.

    RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS continued on next post . . .
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  13. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    . . . RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS continued from last post


    When Scott Frost took over as Head Coach of the Cornhuskers, it is quite possible that he wasn’t particularly confident in the talent he had inherited at the TE position. And why should he have confidence? Virtually every TE who had played the last two years was gone. The roster was filled with some very young talent—there was only one scholarship player beyond his sophomore season—and that player subsequently left the program.

    But after spring camp and the start of fall camp, things are looking up. In fact, the staff was quoted as saying the TE group may have had the best day of all the groups after the latest scrimmage.

    Last season the staff was forced to go with a two TE set most of the year playing two senior walk on players. But in the second half of the year, now redshirt sophomore Jack Stoll began to see the field more and more. He ended the season with 8 catches, 89 yards, and two TD’s—modest numbers to be sure but pretty solid considering all it was done late in the season and his reputation was as a good blocking TE. Stoll had a great spring and has been a leader in the weight room. He could be an emerging star and looks to be NU’s #1 TE perhaps for the next three years.

    This spring another young player emerged as a potential big time contributor in Scott Frost’s offense. Redshirt freshman Austin Allen is 6’8” and is a former basketball player with good athleticism and speed for a big man. Allen had a great spring camp and enters fall camp as the clear #2 guy in the rotation. It is said that Allen is perfect for Frost’s offense and great things are expected of him.

    After these two, the picture gets a bit fuzzier for some folks, especially if you consider that 6’7” redshirt freshman Kurt Rafdal is not a good fit for Scott Frost’s offense—as many folks consider. A perfect fit for many offenses, I find it peculiar that so many people believe that Frost’s offense is so one-dimensional that a top prospect like Rafdal cannot possibly find a role. Rafdal keeps producing in practices—scoring an impressive TD in the spring game and is having a solid fall camp. He looks to be a very good #3 in the TE room.

    It is here that things get hazy. It was said after the latest scrimmage, that the staff thinks they have four reliable TE’s at this point. Who is #4?

    There are two incoming freshman who could be in line for playing time. As stated Katerian LeGrone was recruited as a WR/TE and is starting out at TE. For a TE, LeGrone has great speed and even returned kicks in High School. LeGrone was recruited by Frost when he was coaching at UCF so obviously Frost really likes him.

    The other incoming freshman seems like he committed to the Huskers when he was still in diapers about 6 or 7 coaching staffs ago. But Cameron Jurgens is finally a Husker, though he is coming off a major injury that has taken him most of his senior year and beyond to rehabilitate. Jurgens isn’t quite 100% yet, but he is getting close. Without the injury, he might have been in line for serious playing time, but there are those who think another year would do him some good. It is unclear exactly where he stands right now. Also, there are those who don’t like him at TE but absolute think he would make a great LB.

    Incoming walk on freshman Bryson Krull made the 110 man roster and there are those who think he could be the next walk on TE to earn a scholarship at Nebraska eventually.

    In 2019, everyone is back.

    In 2020, everyone is back. Keep in mind that by this point, Justin McGriff may have moved to TE as well.

    It doesn’t take much analysis to realize that if this group is as good as advertised, then the future is bright. If this group is all bust, we’re in trouble. But so far in fall camp, things are looking very positive.

    Nebraska looks to take one TE in this class. Since so many players will even be back in 2021, it will be interesting to see how the staff approaches TE recruiting for the 2020 class to prepare for the majority of this group to graduate after 2021.


    It is remarkable how optimistic the future looks for two position groups that have a current total of two proven players and two promising players that have a sprinkling of experience. The rest is pure projection. But that is where we find ourselves in year 1 of the Scott Frost era.

    If the young pups come through, then it comes down to can the QB’s distribute the ball around enough to keep so many hungry receivers happy? And can the offensive line give said QB the time to make the throws? If so, this could be a very dynamic offense in a hurry.

    Next up . . . let’s take a look at that offensive line.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  14. HuskerInOkieland

    HuskerInOkieland All American 10 Year Member

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    As Nebraska fans dream of great things happening on offense with Scott Frost at the helm, they are willing to overlook that two freshman QB’s are vying for the starting job. Lots of newcomers at RB and WR—no problem. Unproven TE’s—no sweat. The offensive line . . .

    It is here that Husker fans awaken in a cold, terror soaked sweat.

    In a sense, Frost has managed to get himself ahead of the curve in so many ways. He landed his QB in his first “partial” class—something Callahan, Pelini, and Riley all failed to do. They had to wait a year to get started. Frost landed “his guy” at so many positions—it is like he is playing with house money. But the OL was an exception. Frost only landed two players last year and one did not qualify. Plus, attrition is looming. All this from an offensive line that struggled mightily the past few seasons.

    At least most of last year’s line is back. But is that a good thing? Let’s take a look. As usual, I will split up the interior and exterior of the OL into two groups.


    There is good news and bad news here. The good news is Nebraska has a pair of very talented young players that could be mainstays at both tackle positions for years to come. The bad news is the depth behind them is severely lacking in quantity and razor thin in quality.

    True Sophomore Brendon Jaimes is the rare OL that played extensively as a true freshman. Jaimes was so impressive in fall camp last year, the coaches knew that he would be an immediate option if injuries struck. Three games and two injuries later, Jaimes was inserted into the starting lineup at RT where he stayed the rest of the year. Jaimes had some difficult freshmen moments but often earned the highest grade of all the linemen and in general did a solid job. Jaimes moves to LT this year—his intended position. Jaimes is probably the one true LT on the team and is said to have a solid future in the NFL awaiting him. Jaimes has all the tools to be an outstanding addition to the role-call of great Husker offensive linemen. If not the best player on the team, Jaimes may be the most important player—should he become injured, there is frankly no one on the team capable of replacing him adequately. There is no bigger drop off from #1 to #2 anywhere on the roster.

    At RT is another sophomore, albeit a redshirt sophomore—Matt Farniok. Like Jaimes, an injury forced Farniok into the starting RT position last year and it was actually Farniok’s injury that opened the door for Jaimes. Farniok had an up and down season both in performance and injuries. In fact, Farniok eventually moved inside to guard—a position some feel he is very much suited for. But for now he is at tackle where he is needed. Farniok is healthy now and has been very productive in both the spring and fall camps. Farniok has all the tools to be an NFL lineman someday. Now that he has a year experience, the staff is hoping for a big jump in performance.

    The top two guys are oozing potential however a look at the rest of the roster is frightening. At LT, the “official” #2 is redshirt junior Christian Gaylord. Gaylord has been a fixture on special teams but just hasn’t developed as hoped as an OT. He has had issues adding size and strength. It has been said that Gaylord has made solid progress but just isn’t quite ready yet. But we’ve been hearing that for a couple of years now.

    Meanwhile, #2 at RT is redshirt freshman Matt Sichterman. Sichterman is probably the best hope of one of the lineman stepping forward as he has plenty of potential. The issue is that he probably needs more time—as would be expected for one so young. If injuries strike, he may have to grow up in a hurry. In any case, Sichterman is absolutely part of the coaches’ plans for the future. Some think he could be well suited to move inside to guard.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that versatile redshirt senior Cole Conrad has game experience at tackle. As will be discussed, Conrad is likely to be our starting center. If injuries warrant, one possibility is for him to swing to OT.

    Redshirt freshman Chris Walker moved to DL this spring. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he could move back to OT at some point.

    Redshirt freshman walk on Trent Hixson is on the 110 man roster and has seen time at LT.

    There are no incoming freshmen as the one OT Commit, Willie Canty, did not qualify and went the JUCO route.

    Folks, that’s it. There are a couple of guards who could potentially flip outside (Broc Bando, John Raridon), but better to pray for good health.

    In 2019, no one is gone unless you consider Cole Conrad as a possibility.

    In 2020, only Gaylord leaves leaving Jaimes, Farniok, and Sichterman. Keep in mind that Farniok may at some point be needed to move inside. If so, the numbers are super lean as it stands.

    Obviously, OT is a critical position of need for this class. There is some good news there so far. The Huskers have landed commits from a pair of solid OT’s and is still in the market for a couple more OT’s. NU certainly wants to land a JUCO OT. In fact, versatile JUCO commit Desmond Bland is scheduled to arrive next spring. He could play OT but it is likely he will be a better fit to fill a need inside. Look for NU to land another JUCO for OT—likely available in the spring.


    The interior of the offensive line features 3 seniors and 4 players battling over 3 positions.

    The center position likely belongs to redshirt senior Cole Conrad. Conrad has had quite the journey around the offensive line. Conrad first made a name for himself as a walk on fill in at OT during his sophomore year and did a generally solid job. Last year he moved to center and started the year there. However, the line struggled and an injury to Conrad opened the door for now departed Michael Decker. The OL performed much better under Decker until he got hurt and Conrad re-entered. Conrad struggled with severe injuries all year which may have affected his play. Last year’s offensive line was easily fooled by defenses and Conrad struggled badly with line calls. Conrad missed the spring with injuries but is back and the new staff is very high on him now that he is fully healed. Besides starting at center, Conrad has the ability to play anywhere on the line including sliding out to OT if needed there.

    If Conrad is unable to perform or is needed elsewhere, then redshirt junior Tanner Farmer would slide from his RG position inside to center. When Decker left the program and Conrad was injured in the spring, Farmer began to prepare in earnest to be the starting center. But for now, he will start at RG. Farmer is a multi-year starter and is freakishly strong. He has struggled with consistency and injuries throughout his career. It is hopeful that his work in the strength and conditioning program helps him to get leaner so that he can have a great senior season.

    At LG would be redshirt senior Jerald Foster. Another multi-year starter, Foster has been stated to be a leader in the locker room but some fans are still waiting to see his best football on Saturday’s. Foster has all the tools to have a monster senior season—in fact, he has been said by many to be our most talented lineman. He too has taken snaps at center just in case.

    The fourth man is redshirt sophomore Boe Wilson who would slide into the RG spot should Farmer move to center. Wilson is a fan favorite with a nasty temperament that fans love at the OL spot. Wilson has always seemed on the cusp of major playing time but has always been waiting behind someone just a bit in front of him. With a new OL coach and high tempo offensive philosophy, look for Wilson to see plenty of action even as the sixth man on the line.

    Things get a little fuzzier after the top 4 guys. Redshirt sophomore John Raridon was highly regarded out of High School but is said to be quite a ways outside the top 4 interior guys. Raridon has struggled to add needed mass and hasn’t fared well in his brief appearances so far. Word is that he is coming along but still needs some time. It is possible that the light may come on at some point during the season—the talent is there. But 2019 may be a more realistic expectation.

    Redshirt junior Jalin Barnett was injured in fall camp and decided to take a medical meaning that he can finish his school but not count against the 85 man roster.

    Redshirt freshman Broc Bando is a versatile lineman who could play almost anywhere on the line. Bando is young and has made a good impression on the new coaches. Like many others, he is fighting for a spot on the second team but may not be quite ready for prime time at this point. He could be a factor in 2019 and beyond.

    Nebraska’s only incoming OL recruit was already here in the spring. Will Farniok joined his brother on the NU roster and comes in as a center recruit. Farniok had a very good spring camp and made a solid impression. He is a bit on the small side, he probably needs a year or two to put on some good weight.

    Meanwhile, redshirt freshman walk on Hunter Miller was one of the sensations of spring camp. The staff is said to love Miller and he is definitely a part of their future plans. Somewhat like Farniok, he probably needs a bit more time for his body to mature but it wouldn’t be surprising if he saw some action this year.

    A number of walk on freshmen made the 110 man roster. A.J. Forbes received some solid reviews and actually worked out at RT. He could be a sleeper. Meanwhile, Mitchell Belanger worked out at both guard and center and Collin Shefke worked out at guard.

    In 2019, the three projected senior starters are gone. Boe Wilson will likely jump into the starting line up but the rest is up in the air. John Raridon and Broc Bando are likely to be in the hunt for the other guard position and Hunter Miller and Will Farniok should be in the picture at center (although Raridon or Wilson can also play center). Nebraska has a verbal from top JC Desmond Bland who can play anywhere on the line but who likely would play inside at either guard or center. He will be here in the spring and will be looking to land a starting spot.

    In 2020, no one is gone. That should allow the staff a chance to increase the numbers.

    It is unclear what plans the staff has for recruiting the interior. For obvious reasons, there recruitment has been focused on OT but the interior of the OL gets a bit shallow. As odd as it seems, their plan could be to move Matt Farniok to guard which obviously requires a replacement for him at the OT position. Perhaps the staff plans to bring in as many OT’s as possible, and move players inside as needed. It is considered much easier to move an OT inside than vice versa. In any case, Desmond Bland is likely a solid stopgap and look for the staff to perhaps focus on guard play in the 2020 class. The late departure of Barnett probably increases the chances the staff looks to add at one or two interior player in this class. Another JUCO isn’t out of the question.


    There is now a grand total of 16 OL on the roster as it stands—the lowest number in years. Currently, the staff has 6 players they trust to fill 5 positions. On paper, the starting OL looks decent if injuries can be avoided. But the depth just isn’t there if injuries mount.

    Having three of the 16 graduate next year doesn’t help the numbers much. The good news is that the remaining 13 are relatively young but after bringing in only one player in last years’ class, Coach Frost and his staff need to hit it out of the park in recruiting this year. In addition, they must develop the talent that is already here. The margin for error is minute.

    With better nutrition and commitment to conditioning, perhaps there is enough talent to get the job done, especially with the strategic sprinkling of a JUCO or two. If not, or if the staff strikes out with this year’s OL recruiting, fans may need to temper their expectations for a little while.

    Scott Frost is said to be restoring Nebraska traditions. It isn’t difficult to see that restoring the OLine pipeline may be his most important restoration project.

    Well that's it. My rough draft was 45 pages this year. Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think. I may be back with some final notes before the start of the season, I haven't decided yet.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
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  15. McJack

    McJack Scout Team 10 Year Member

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    Excellent analysis as always HIO.

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