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5 things we have learned about Nebraska Football so far this spring



Nebraska football
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football will be wrapping up spring football on April 22nd, but here are five things we have learned so far about the Huskers.

Compared to many programs, Nebraska football has actually allowed quite a bit of access this spring. There have been some open sessions with the media, as well as all the social media postings and reporting.

Nebraska football fans will get a chance to see what Matt Rhule’s first team looks like for themselves during the spring game. However, we have picked up quite a bit up to this point, and before the final two weeks of spring practices, here are five things we have learned about the Huskers this spring.

Matt Rhule likes the offensive line

Some Nebraska football fans might be skeptical after watching the offensive line struggle in 2022, but the head coach seems to genuinely like this offensive line.

Rhule has called Bryce Benhart an NFL player and if he plays like that, it will be huge for the Huskers. Teddy Prochazka coming back healthy would be massive too. He’s flashed some really good signs when healthy. Ben Scott was a solid pickup at the center and Nouredin Nouili is another guy with an NFL future. He played well at the end of the 2021 season and if he wasn’t suspended a year ago, he would have started.

That’s essentially three new starters compared to the end of last season and if Benhart can deliver, the Huskers would be solid up front. More depth is needed, especially at tackle, but if Rhule is right about the offensive line, that will be a good sign for the 2023 season.

Nebraska football running back room is stacked

Gabe Ervin has been one of the standouts this spring for Nebraska football but he’s not alone. Anthony Grant has had some good moments and Rahmir Johnson is a guy that can’t be discounted.

When you add in second-year guys Ajay Allen and Emmett Johnson, this running back group has a chance to be really good. Johnson adds a receiving element and I still can’t figure out why he wasn’t utilized more last season as a runner and pass-catcher.

At any rate, Nebraska has three backs that seem ready to carry the load next season in Grant, Allen, and Ervin, which is going to make it easy to commit to the run as Rhule says he will.

Thomas Fidone is ready to roll

The former top-100 tight end is still being limited this spring, yet if Nebraska football had a game today, I have a feeling that Fidone would be able to play.

At 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, you could probably make the case that Fidone is one of the most obvious breakout candidates on the roster. The fact that he’s been talked about so much and has so much confidence heading into next season — saying he can be a first-round pick, etc. — are all good signs.

Fidone delivering on his vast potential is a big key for the Huskers in 2023 and right now, I feel a lot better about his chances of doing that next season.

Jeff Sims has made an impression

Again, we only have so much to go on, but by all accounts, it has been a successful spring for Jeff Sims in his effort to win the starting quarterback job.

We have seen Sims throw touchdown passes in video portions of scrimmages — not that it means much — but players and coaches alike have said positive things about the 6-foot-4 former starter at Georgia Tech. Here’s what Matt Rhule said earlier this spring about Sims: 

“I think Jeff brings a dynamic element to the game in that he can throw and run and is really smart and is a great teammate,” Rhule said. “The guys all really like him. He has natural leadership capabilities. I’m excited to see what he does.”

That doesn’t mean he’s going to win the starting job. But it seems clear that Sims has helped himself this spring and while I once thought Casey Thompson would have the edge, I feel like Sims will have a slight advantage after the spring, especially if he plays well in the spring game.

Malcolm Hartzog is ready for a leap

Hartzog made a big impact last season as a freshman with over 20 tackles, three interceptions, a pass breakup and a punt blocked returned for a touchdown. Malcolm just seemed to have a nose for the ball and the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder has been standing out this spring.

It sounds like Nebraska football has plans to move him around next season. He could play corner, but he’s going to see some time at safety too. Remember, Tony White’s background is the 3-3-5 defense and Hartzog could be a hybrid (nickel) that could move around.

I have questions about moving Hartzog to a pure safety because he seemed like one of Nebraska’s best cover guys last season, but if he’s being used as a slot corner/safety, it might allow him to make a greater impact.

At any rate, it sounds like Hartzog will be one of the best players on the Nebraska football defense in 2023, and that right there is a really positive development.

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Nebraska Football zeroing in on local 2025 LB



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is beginning to make inroads into the 2025 recruiting class, and they will have visitors on campus next weekend. Hosting some local talent. 2025 outside linebacker Zayvion Campbell will be in Lincoln next weekend.

This is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, Ryan Gottula is the head coach at Lincoln Southeast. His son Gunnar is part of the 2023 Nebraska football recruiting class. The family connection could help Nebraska football land Campbell.

Secondly, Nebraska is continuing to recruit in-state. This is something that we have seen in the 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes it appears that in-state recruiting will be a focal point. This is something the coaching staff has zeroed in on as one of their main goals during their time at Nebraska. They are sticking to that goal.

What could he bring to Nebraska football?

Campbell is a very intriguing player. He measures in at around six-foot-three, 200 pounds. He has good pursuit ability, and is able to wrap up and make tackles with ease. Campbell would be able to fit the Nebraska football defense by providing a solid presence inside. Campbell uses a variety of moves in order to get to the quarterback as well.

He would give Nebraska a player that could be used in multiple ways in a 3-3-5 defense. It would be fun to see defensive coordinator Tony White work with him. He has the ability to rush as well as fill gaps on the inside. That type of versatility is what Nebraska football should be looking for defensively with the scheme they have.

At the very least, Campbell is coming to campus to check things out.  It’s important that Nebraska continues to look at multiple candidates at the linebacker position. At the very least,  they need to make an effort to continue the recruiting pipeline in-state. The 2023 and 2024 classes were filled with Nebraska-born players. This is a trend that needs to continue.

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Nebraska Football: QB visit canceled and a Carter Nelson update



Nebraska football
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is set for its first official visit weekend of June and Kamari McClellan has canceled, plus the latest on Carter Nelson.

One of the big questions lingering about Nebraska football recruiting this weekend was whether or not three-star quarterback Kamari McClellan would make it for his official visit.

It was still on the schedule for this weekend according to the recruiting sites and in a recent interview, McClellan indicated he was still coming. However, with the recent commitment of Daniel Kaelin, it was only going to happen if Nebraska football suddenly decided to take two quarterbacks in 2024.

Anything is possible but the visit has now been canceled according to Sean Callahan of Husker Online. I think McClellan will wind up at Clemson or another team scrambling for a QB. Nebraska football was in that position and the kid is talented, but Kaelin, who is heading to the Elite 11, is a much better get.

Daniel Kaelin will visit Nebraska football again

Speaking of Kaelin, it wasn’t lip service when he said he wants to be around when any recruit comes to visit. The quarterback will take his official visit the same weekend as Carter Nelson.

But he’s now on the list for an unofficial visit this weekend. There are a couple of wideouts expected to visit. Jacory Barney is one and the Huskers lead for the three-star wideout via the On3 prediction machine. He’s ranked 459th overall out of Miami, Florida.

Williams Nettles is also visiting but he could be a cornerback or receiver. Caleb Pyfrom is a three-star in-state tackle also visiting and Kaelin being on campus could help push him toward a commitment, which seems to be where things are trending according to recent crystal balls.

It’s just clear that Kaelin is serious about doing what he can for this class, no matter how many times he needs to come to campus.

Another Carter Nelson visit

Add Penn State to the list of teams to worry about in the Carter Nelson sweepstakes. He’s going to visit the Nittany Lions on June 16th, which will be his fourth scheduled official visit.

Nelson is going to visit Georgia this weekend, followed by Notre Dame next weekend. The Huskers just got a Futurecast projection from Greg Smith of Rivals to land Carter, the top-ranked recruit in the state in 2024 and things seem to be trending in the right direction.

My thought is that Nelson is likely going to take these visits and make a decision sometime this summer, maybe in July or August. That’s just a guess. I don’t see this recruitment bleeding into the season and Nebraska football has put more effort in than any other program.

That doesn’t mean anything on its own. But Carter just took a visit to Nebraska along with Kaelin and that connection seems to be helping. Nelson hasn’t talked about his recruitment a ton, so it’s hard to get a read, but the tea leaves are pointing in Nebraska’s direction.

We’ll see if that’s still true after the next three weekends.

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Nebraska Football trending in right direction with Florida CB



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is having a newsworthy recruiting month to start up June. The program is already trending with four-star corner Mario Buford. Now, it appears that another corner may be in their sights as well.

Amare Sanders is the name to keep an eye on. He is a four-star corner He is ranked numerically at 87.50 according to the On3 recruiting rankings. He plays at Gulliver Prep high school, and is from Miami, Fla.

Sanders is a three-star recruit and measures in at 6-foot-2, 167 pounds. Right now, Nebraska is in the lead for his recruitment according to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine. He is also visiting Nebraska this weekend, in what is turning out to be a big weekend for visitors.

Sanders has tremendous athleticism for a corner. He is able to make the proper reads on passing plays, and that allows him to close on wide receivers quickly and break up potential completions. He does a good job of turning his hips, and reading the play in its entirety. This is certainly important to his game and the way he plays. He also is a decent size for a corner, as he measures in at 6-foot-2 167 pounds.

Nebraska football making Florida a priority

It’s clear that Nebraska football wants to establish a stake in Florida. They are trending with wide receiver Jacory Barney Jr, and already have a commitment from Willis McGahee IV. Both of those players hail from Miami Palmetto. Sanders goes to Gulliver Prep, which is another highly-touted school in the state of Florida.

Currently, the 2024 Nebraska football recruiting class ranks 31st overall nationally with seven commitments. They have focused on both sides of the football, and are landing talented prospects both in and out of the state of Nebraska.

It will be interesting to see if Sanders ends up coming to Nebraska. The fact that he is visiting this weekend and is trending towards the Huskers is certainly a positive sign. The program done work in Florida before, but it seems like this time around their efforts will stick. Recruiting in Florida is a key component for success. Nebraska football is trying to establish that.

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