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7 Huskers that need to step up this spring for Nebraska Football



Nebraska football
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Looking ahead to Nebraska football spring practices, here are five Huskers that need to step up.

Spring football is getting underway on Monday for the Nebraska football program and new head coach Matt Rhule.

It’s going to be an exciting time for the Huskers and their fans as they take the next step toward the 2023 season. Nebraska football has a huge roster of players and there will be plenty of new faces (most of them transfers).

Rhule said recently that Nebraska football already has depth charts posted. He believes in honesty and accountability. We’ll see how those depth charts change over the spring. I for one, can’t wait for the spring game next month.

However, the work done in practice will likely be important and have a bigger impact on their depth chart. The Huskers have question marks all over the roster — they are coming off a 4-8 season after all and here are five players that Nebraska football needs to step up this spring.

QB Jeff Sims

This is a big spring for Jeff Sims. Rhule has been vague about how much Casey Thompson is going to do this spring and that leaves much of the opportunity for Sims.

We can’t forget about Logan Smothers, Chubba Purdy, and Henrich Haaberg. The 6-foot-5 sophomore has turned some heads with his speed and who knows, he could make some noise with a solid spring.

I’m not saying he’s going to start or anything, but he could give Nebraska football a solid No. 3 and a quarterback worth developing for the future. I don’t see Smothers and Purdy hanging around unless they are determined to be backups for the rest of their careers.

If Sims wants to win the starting job, he needs to start with his arm. We know what he can do as a runner. He needs to show he can take care of the ball, push it down the field and make plays with his arm.

Thomas Fidone

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Nebraska football tight end Thomas Fidone but I want to see him deliver with a really good spring. The biggest thing is staying healthy.

Yet, he’s got a challenge for the starting job from Arik Gilbert. I think Fidone can establish himself as the starter and let’s be honest, there are snaps available for a few tight ends. I think we’ll see those guys plenty.

If Fidone wants to be a first or second-round pick, he’s going to need a good 2023 and probably another good season in 2024. That all starts by keeping the positive momentum moving forward (and staying healthy).

Bryce Benhart/Turner Corcoran

I’m going to talk about the two veterans here in one section. Both have started a bunch of games during their Nebraska football careers. They have each failed to meet expectations too.

Rhule said he thinks the Nebraska offensive line is better than people realize. Part of that might have to do with getting two starters back from injury/suspension, as well as landing Ben Scott in the transfer portal.

Getting the most out of Benhart and Corcoran would be huge though. They both struggled last season, but under the tutelage of Donovan Raiola and Rhule, the hope is that former those four-star recruits can finally live up to their potential.

If they can and take a step forward this spring, it would be huge for Nebraska football and could even eliminate the need for a transfer offensive tackle in the April transfer portal window.

Jimari Butler/Blaise Gunnerson

OK, another combined-player section. But just like Corcoran and Benhart, the combo of Jimari Butler and Blaise Gunnerson are very similar, so it feels wrong to separate them.

Last season, two EDGE players combined for 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and zero sacks. To be fair, they didn’t get a ton of opportunities. Butler was actually going to transfer. Then, Nebraska football lost some of its top edge rushers to the portal and he returned.

The potential is there for both guys. They have all the measurables. They have both flashed at times too. They just need to put it together and the reps should be there this spring to do so.

MJ Sherman and Chief Borders are going to have an impact on the pass rush this spring too but it would be a real help for Nebraska football if Gunnerson and Butler took a step forward this spring.

Zavier Betts

Betts has proven that he can play at this level. He didn’t play last season but now appears to be focused. He’s looked good in winter conditioning by all accounts but this spring will be the real test. What will he look like after more than a year away from football?

This spring will be a great chance for him to establish a spot on the depth chart. Nebraska needs a big, quick receiver like Betts. He was a big-time recruit for a reason and if Rhule could help him resurrect his career, it would be a great thing for him and the Huskers.

It all starts with a productive spring.

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More crystal ball projections for Nebraska Football ahead of big weekend



Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football has landed two more crystal ball projections ahead of a huge recruiting weekend for the Huskers.

There are going to be 26 recruits on campus this weekend visiting the Nebraska football program. Five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola is the headliner, along with a number of other top-100 recruits and the top-ranked player in the state of Nebraska Carter Nelson.

It’s one of the most impressive visit weekends for Nebraska football recruiting in a long time, maybe ever, but how many commitments are going to come this weekend if any?

I certainly wouldn’t expect a pledge from Raiola. As much as Nebraska football fans might want that, the top-ranked QB in the 2024 class just scheduled an official visit in June with Georgia, the defending national champs. This is on the heels of another visit to UGA, so the Huskers need to recapture some momentum.

The key objective with many recruits will be getting them back for an official visit. Gatlin Bair is a name that comes to mind since the kid is ranked 40th overall in the 2024 class via 247 sports. He’s visiting this weekend and if the Huskers got him back for an official visit in June, they’d have to feel good about their chances.

However, Nebraska football could land a couple of commitments this weekend. One candidate is three-star tight end Ian Flynt. He visited back in January, has family ties to Nebraska football, and just received another crystal ball projection for the Huskers. That’s four total for the No. 456 overall recruit in the 2024 class (247 composite).

A commitment might not happen this weekend, but I’d look for a commitment date coming soon out of this weekend. Flynt is out of Texas and so is three-star offensive lineman Gibson Pyle, who also received a crystal ball projection on Friday (Flynt did too).

Pyle is 735th overall and he teased an announcement a couple of weeks ago but it didn’t come. He’s got six crystal ball predictions for the Huskers and that’s another potential commitment to watch out for this weekend.

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Nebraska Football welcoming Nebraska high school coaches



Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football was busy on Thursday, as the first week of spring ball begins to wrap up. There was a ton of anticipation throughout the week, as players and fans got a first look at what this team could be like. Thursday, Several Nebraska high school coaches got their chance too, with many in attendance.

Omaha North’s Larry Martin, York coach Glenn Snodgrass, and Papillion -La Vista South coaching legend Walt Olsen were there Thursday. In addition to the coaches, Lincoln Football Coaches Association president Mark Waller was also in attendance, per a report from Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald.

It’s easy to gloss over why this is important information. Nevertheless, the attendance of those particular people fits with the vision that Matt Rhule is trying to bring to the program.

This Nebraska football coaching staff wants to make the state of Nebraska a focal point in recruiting. Honestly, they should. There is a ton of talent in the state, and that should be able to continue with future classes.

Nebraska high school coaching staffs indicated they felt ignored by previous coaching staffs. The Scott Frost staff was just beginning to make inroads into the Nebraska high school circuit in 2022. Coaches such as Mickey Joseph were beginning to really build a fence around the state. Now, this current coaching staff looks to finish the job.

What better way to do so than to have Nebraska high school coaches at a practice? It’s clear that Rhule and this coaching staff wants to make the state a priority. Having high school coaches at practices helps establish the pipeline early.

It’s good to see this group of Nebraska coaches building connections with those in the state. It’s something that should be able to serve them well. Establishing good rapport early is nothing but a positive. It’s encouraging to see the state itself being addressed, and a focal point at that.

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Nebraska Football: Tommi Hill returns to practice Thursday



There was a lot of information to take in during Thursday’s Nebraska Football practice, including the appearance of a player who was not practicing at the beginning of the week. Defensive back Tommi Hill returned on Thursday, adding more depth to the field, per a report from the Omaha World-Herald.

Hill played on both sides of the football for Nebraska last season. He started at defensive back, before moving over to wide receiver. It was a rough year for Hill, as it was for most of the defense. All told, he tallied 17 pass breakups and four deflections. He did not record any statistics as a wide receiver, though his speed made it an intriguing position move.

Whatever happened during the beginning of the week appears to be settled, as Hill was back at practice. He could very well be a major part of the defensive backfield, especially with Malcolm Hartzog potentially moving to safety. It would be more of a natural fit for Hill at the corner spot, as he has played the majority of his career in the defensive backfield.

At the very least, this gives another body for the huskers coaching staff to work with. Hill is one of the many players who are looking to bounce back after a difficult year last year. It will be interesting to what kind of role he will play, as Nebraska football has several options for personnel in Tony White’s defense.

Hill’s athleticism could land him a potentially big role in White’s 3-3-5 defense.  As for now, Hill is just working to get back into the fold, as the defense begins to take shape.

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