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Nebraska Football: 5 things we learned during Big Ten Media Days



Nebraska football
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule and three players, plus Trev Alberts took their turn at Big Ten Media Days, and here’s what we learned.

It’s hard to believe, Nebraska football fans, but we are 35 days away from the Cornhuskers’ season opener against Minnesota.

Big Ten Media Days always feel like the unofficial start to the season. Fall camp is soon after and starts Monday for Nebraska football with players reporting on Sunday.

You could see that Matt Rhule is excited to coach his team. He said he likes his team and I tend to believe him. Of course, Rhule faced a question about what will be a successful first season and that’s where we’ll start with what we learned.

Rhule’s first-year expectations

Matt Rhule uses a lot of coachspeak. It sounds corny, but corny sayings are a thing because they’re true.

Coaches say things all the time but when Rhule talked about doing it day-by-day you could feel the sincerity. He said, “You learn from the past, prepare for the future, but live in the present.”

It’s an easy thing to say. Not so easy to do.

Rhule won’t say it, but there’s no reason this Nebraska football team can’t have a winning season. He talked about rebuilding respect in Nebraska football around the country and that only happens one way — winning.

Scott Frost had lots of moral victories. Nebraska needs to be done with those. This program should be able to compete against anyone in the country. It shouldn’t be anybody’s underdog.

Rhule gets that. He also understands that looking too far ahead is a recipe for disaster. You have to win the day — Rhule the day — if you will and Nebraska football feels more prepared to actually do that.

Rhule doesn’t care what you think about his recruits

We probably didn’t need Big Ten Media Days to learn that Matt Rhule doesn’t care at all about recruiting rankings or what other programs have offered a prospect. He trusts what he sees and when he sees players with the traits that he values, he goes after them hard.

It’s a strategy that was really successful in the 2024 class. Guys like Rex Guthrie, Quinn Clark, Braylen Prude, and others impressed Rhule at a camp on their way to becoming a commitment. Here’s how he explained his thought process on recruiting.

“Sometimes people will tell me that there’s a lot of talk about, ‘Well, (Nebraska) took this guy who’s unrecruited or that guy who’s unrecruited,’” Rhule said via Husker Online. “Why should what someone else is doing — their opinion of a player — affect my opinion?”

He also added this:

“We had kids come to our camp that ran 4.38, 4.42 (40s), broad-jumped 10-5, and I don’t care who else offered them (scholarships),” Rhule said. “If I can’t coach a kid who runs that fast and jumps that high, then I can’t coach.”

None of us know if Rhule’s approach will work at Nebraska. But I think it will. Beyond that, Rhule has a strategy. He has a plan and he’s going to execute it.

That’s more than you could say about the previous guy.

A leader of men

Some people are born leaders and Rhule strikes me as one. His answers — even to some really weird questions — were perfect. He did a tremendous job of communicating the values and goals of Nebraska football.

The players and recruits have talked about how genuine Rhule is. And you can see it when he meets with the media. Rhule isn’t an act. He’s genuine and he’s just a good dude. He’s intense though.

Don’t mistake the awe-shucks attitude and the love for cinnamon rolls and chili for a nice guy. Rhule is meticulous in terms of work and his fall camp is going to be tougher than anyone Scott Frost put on.

That’s a prediction I feel 100 percent confident in making. He believes in doing the little things right and that’s going to be a key to success.

Rhule isn’t happy with the Arik Gilbert situation

It wasn’t surprising that Rhule was asked about the status of Nebraska football tight end Arik Gilbert. The former five-star tight end transferred from LSU to Georgia, and then to Nebraska.

The NCAA put in place new rules about second-time transfers. Gilbert isn’t a graduate transfer at this point, so he needs a waiver and according to Rhule, one hasn’t come yet. All Rhule said was, “He should be able to play.”

We’ll see if the NCAA agrees with Rhule. If not, you wonder if Gilbert will ever play a down for the Huskers. Sean Callahan reported that some NFL scouts might come to practice to scout Gilbert if he can’t play, which tells you just how good he is, and how painful it would be for the Huskers if he’s not eligible.

Georgia, his former program, has also said he should be eligible, so I really don’t see the issue, except that the new rules for two-year transfers have a lot less wiggle room in terms of waivers.

Mario Buford injury

One final thing we learned on Thursday about the Nebraska football team is that it will be without Mario Buford for the start of fall camp as he’s still recovering from injury.

It’s not a great sign obviously. Rhule didn’t indicate how long he could be out. The 3-3-5 defense has five defensive back starters and the loss of Buford could mean someone like Omar Brown and Corey Collier could get more playing time.

Myles Farmer is a returning starter but Brown has played well and also seemed in line for a starting role. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but Buford is one of Nebraska football’s best defenders and the Huskers need him back to 100 percent as soon as possible.

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Nebraska Football lands athletic playmaker in JD Crisp



Nebraska Football
Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football continues to recruit for the 2024 class. They picked up a commitment from 2024 wide receiver JD Crisp on Wednesday afternoon. Crisp played both sides of the football in high school, playing both defensive back and wide receiver for Second Baptist High School.

He is not ranked in the 247Sports regular or Composite Rankings. However, he does have a solid offer sheet.  Crisp had seven offers in total, including one from Minnesota. He was officially offered by the program on September 16 and quickly made his decision.

It’s also worth noting that his recruitment was active throughout the summer. He attended Texas A&M Aggies camp on June 14. At the very least, he garnered interest from a prominent Texas school. That is notable in of itself.

What could he bring to Nebraska football?

It’s interesting that he is a two-way player. He played both the receiver and safety positions in high school. As far as Nebraska is concerned, I could certainly see him playing at receiver. He has as a tremendous amount of athleticism, and played mostly on the outside and high school. Crisp was very good at catching in space, and making contested catches and tight windows.

Playing receiver would make sense for him, given Nebraska’s lack of depth at the position moving forward. He has the agility and ability to become a solid piece if developed properly.

Nevertheless, he has overall qualities that could make him a good safety as well. This coaching staff loves the opportunity to work with athletes and molding them as they see fit. His ability to fire off the football and read a play certainly stands out.

The commitment of Crisp adds to a 2024 recruiting class that ranks 24th overall nationally. The class itself is stacked with talent. It currently has 25 commitments in total.

It will be interesting to see what Crisp can do for Nebraska football. He is definitely more of a project player. Nevertheless, his athleticism and speed is intriguing. One of this coaching staff’s strengths is identifying how players fit into the program. They will have to do that with Crisp.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers news: Jeff Sims still not 100 percent, a flip attempt, and more



Nebraska football
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football QB Jeff Sims still isn’t 100 percent, plus more Nebraska Cornhuskers news.

One thing we know for sure about the Nebraska football quarterback situation is that we won’t know anything until kickoff on Saturday against Louisiana Tech.

Matt Rhule said that he won’t be making any announcements prior to the game, similar to last week, about the starting quarterback. Marcus Satterfield told reporters on Tuesday that Sims took “50-55 percent of the snaps” so he’s improving, but according to Rhule, he’s still not 100 percent.

Rhule indicated that Sims is throwing the ball well. The Nebraska Cornhuskers just want to see some more movement skills out of their starting quarterback. One of the starting quarterbacks I should say since Sims and Heinrich Haarberg were listed as co-starters this week on the depth chart.

We’ll see how it plays out. If Sims is healthy, I expect that he will get the start or at least play, but with how thin Nebraska football is at running back, both quarterbacks will probably be needed, especially with their prowess for pounding the rock.

Nebraska Cornhuskers aiming to flip Michigan State 4-star

Andrew Dennis is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman rated as a four-star prospect by the 247 Sports composite rankings. He’s out of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and has been committed to Michigan State since April but Nebraska football is one of many programs to throw out a recent offer.

We don’t know if Dennis has any plans to visit Nebraska football. He’s been offered by Auburn, Stanford, Penn State, and Purdue just since Monday. I wouldn’t get too serious worrying about Dennis until he takes a visit to Nebraska, but if that happens, watch out.

It’s at least a name to keep on the radar and a decommitment definitely seems possible with the situation going on at Michigan State with Mel Tucker getting fired.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Big Ten basketball schedule released

We knew which teams Nebraska basketball would play in the 2023-24 Big Ten season but got the official schedule on Tuesday. The Huskers released it on their official Twitter account.

Nebraska basketball will open Big Ten on December 6th against Minnesota on the road. Fred Hoiberg’s first conference home game will be against Michigan State on December 10th.

The schedule is fairly balanced in terms of the home and road games. The Huskers have consecutive home games twice on the conference schedule. Nebraska has also back-to-back road games twice.

My first impressions though, are that Nebraska basketball is capable of a winning season in Big Ten play, which would definitely keep Fred Hoiberg in place and likely, would give the Huskers a realistic shot at making their first NCAA tournament since the 2014 season.

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Nebraska football is trending for a priority target, plus more Cornhuskers news



Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football seems to be closing in on the commitment of three-star athlete Caleb Benning, plus another win for volleyball.

For the first time this season, Nebraska football fans are enjoying a victory Monday following the Huskers’ 35-11 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday.

It was an important win for plenty of reasons. But Matt Rhule’s team needed some momentum. The Huskers got it with that win and now, they are picking up momentum with top recruiting target Caleb Benning.

Benning has been one of the top high school players in the state this fall. He was injured last year, which slowed down his recruitment, but the Huskers have been putting on the full-court press and hosted him for a visit during the game on Saturday.

After that, Benning told reporters how much he wanted to play in the Nebraska football defense. He also said that a decision could be “pretty soon” which sounds like great news for the Huskers.

Over the weekend, Nebraska football also picked up a new expert projection to land Benning from Bryan Munson of Husker Online. This was after another recent crystal ball from 247 Sports.

The On3 prediction machine now gives the Huskers a 91-percent chance to win the commitment of Benning, while all of the crystal ball projections agree. Even Greg Smith, a former Nebraska insider who covers Midwest recruiting for rivals, also projected Benning to Nebraska.

The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder is one of the top targets left on the board along with the likes of Grant Brix, Brandon Baker, and Jayshawn Ross. His addition to the 2024 class would be huge and regardless of his ranking, Benning is a player the Huskers need on their roster in the future.

Nebraska volleyball notches another top-25 win

The Cornhuskers were back in the Bob Devaney Center on Sunday and scored another win over a top-25 opponent, their second of the week with a 3-1 win over Kentucky by the scores of 25-14, 25-22, 23-25, and 25-21.

Merritt Beason was on fire for Nebraska volleyball as she had a team-high 17 kills, a total that was matched by freshman standout Harper Murray. Beason also added three blocks, as did Murrary, but Beason hit .438 compared to .308 for Murrary.

Nebraska had 62 kills compared to 53 for Kentucky, which was limited to just a .243 hitting percentage. The Huskers only had four service aces but Bergen Reilly had 32 assists in the win, while Lexi Rodriguez pitched in with 18 digs and had a perfect serve-receive percentage.

The Cornhuskers (9-0) open Big Ten play this week against Ohio State on Friday at 8 PM CST.

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