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Nebraska Football defensive depth chart projection before spring



Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Luke Reimer (28) celebrates after causing Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Jeremy Ruckert (88) to fumble during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., on November 6, 2021.

As Nebraska football gets ready to hit the field for spring practice on Monday, here are our thoughts on the Huskers’ defensive depth chart.

Spring practices start in just a few days for the Nebraska football program. It will be an exciting time as we start to get a better idea of what the team will look like next season.

There are going to be a number of departures after spring ball. That’s to be expected. We should also get a better idea of what the depth chart will look like, although there is plenty of time for that to change.

Injuries also have an impact as Casey Thompson will be limited this spring due to a shoulder injury that he suffered last season. It’s just a reminder that things will change before the fall. That being said, here’s our look at the Nebraska football defensive depth chart prior to spring ball (here’s the offensive depth chart).

D-Line: Ty Robinson, Nash Hutmacher, Elijah Jeudy; Backups: Stephon Wynn Jr., Ru’Quan Buckley

The defensive line isn’t that easy to project because we don’t know exactly how Tony White is going to employ all of his defensive linemen. Right now, Nebraska football has 13 players listed as D-linemen and there is a difference between them and the EDGE position, although players could move between both.

Cameron Lenhardt and Maverick Noonan are listed as D-line, not EDGE, at least for right now. But I wouldn’t worry too much about positions right now, especially for some of the freshmen.

Beyond that, when it comes to Nebraska football’s defensive line, I’d measure play by snaps more than who is the starter or not, because that will depend on formation.

Ty Robinson is likely going to see the most playing time. He’s 6-foot-6, 310 pounds and I could see him getting snaps as a three-technique, a five-technique, and potentially even as a nose. I think Hutmacher, who is 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, and played well at the end of last season, is going to see a lot of snaps in 2023.

If anyone is built to play the nose tackle position on the Nebraska roster, it’s probably Hutmacher. Buckley is a big body and it will be interesting to see what he can accomplish this spring. Jeudy is another guy I expect to push for a starting job and be among the top snap-getters up front next season on defense.

EDGE: MJ Sherman, Chief Borders; Blaise Gunnerson, Jimari Butler,

What’s interesting is that Sherman and Borders aren’t listed as EDGEs on the roster. Both are linebackers and that’s where the 3-3-5 can come into it.

Borders is fast. He can rush the passer but also has the ability to play as more of a traditional outside linebacker. At Florida, he mostly played on special teams and that’s also true for MJ Sherman.

Sherman is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds and the hope is that he can be one of the Huskers’ top pass rushers this season. Gunnerson and Butler shouldn’t be ignored. Remember, Butler was going to enter the transfer portal before returning after some other pass rushers left for the NFL.

Both of those guys have had success and have played quite a few snaps. I’d like to see another pass rusher added in the spring transfer portal window, but you can’t have everything you want and I feel pretty solid about this group which could also include Noonan, Kai Walin, Lenhardt, and others.

Linebacker: Luke Reimer, Nick Henrich, Eric Fields

Reimer and Henrich are both going to start next season as linebackers for Nebraska football. Each dealt with injuries last season and Henrich missed a number of games down the stretch.

Reimer is a guy that makes a ton of impact plays. His quickness has improved over the years and he plays faster than he is anyway because of his instincts and ability to diagnose plays.

Henrich is very similar. He’s a solid tackler and while he struggles in coverage at times, you know what you’re going to get from these two. Eric Fields isn’t on campus for spring ball but by the time he joins the program this summer and gets to fall camp, I have a feeling he’ll play his way up the depth chart.

Nebraska football needs a run-and-hit linebacker and Fields is exactly that. He can run sideline-to-sideline and there’s a reason Matt Rhule was so excited about his commitment.

Beyond that, I’ve always felt that Isaac Gifford would be a better linebacker than safety, and am interested to see where he ends up this spring.

CB: Quinton Newsome, Malcolm Hartzog; Tommi Hill, Braxton Clark;

Nebraska football isn’t that deep at cornerback. Newsome and Hartzog are both quality starters and are back from last season.

That’s a good place to start, but the spring will be about developing more depth. It sounds like there’s a chance that Tommi Hill is going to switch back to defensive back and with all the numbers at wide receiver, that seems like a good idea.

Braxton Clark could have another chance after struggling in limited time last season. Nebraska football could use another cornerback in the transfer portal, otherwise, the Huskers will need a freshman or two to step up as Hartzog did last season.

S: Myles Farmer, Maques Buford; Nickel: Isaac Gifford; Reserves: Omar Brown, Corey Collier, Javin Wright;

Just like at cornerback, Nebraska has returning starters coming back in Farmer, Buford, and Gifford. Isaac started 10 games last season with eight at nickel and two at safety. So whether he sticks as a defensive back or plays more of a nickel linebacker role, he’s going to play a lot.

The same can be said about Farmer and Buford. Those guys are locked in as the starters and to me, I feel like Collier has a shot to crack the top three after transferring from Florida. He didn’t play a lot last season but he’s a former four-star prospect and is someone I’ve got my eye on this spring, as well as other guys in the mix for the two-deep.

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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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