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Nebraska Football: 5 offensive players to watch during spring game

Nebraska football will have a ton of offensive firepower to watch for next Saturday.



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska football spring game is set to take place next Saturday, April 27. There is a lot of anticipation for the program as the season begins, and there will be plenty of names and faces to look out for and watch. The offensive side of the football has been completely revamped, as Nebraska looks to turn the page on a dismal 5-7 season in 2023.

In case you hadn’t heard, the quarterback position was revamped. However, Nebraska also addressed the running back and wide receiver positions as well. There is depth at multiple positions, for the first time in quite a while. Now, it’s going to be up to the coaching staff to develop the players. This has not been a strength of Nebraska football’s over the years but it is a strength of Matt Rhule and the rest of his staff.

We take a look at five offensive players to watch for in next Saturday’s spring game.

Dante Dowdell

Transfer running back Dante Dowdell is undoubtedly going to be a player to watch during next weekend’s spring game. The Oregon transfer comes in with high expectations, as he looks to help stabilize the Nebraska running back room.

Dowdell played in six games with Oregon last season and finished with 17 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. Now, he will look to be in a bigger role for a Huskers team that desperately needs running back depth.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield noted that Dowdell was a strong downhill runner. That’s something that Nebraska will desperately need, especially in a conference like the Big Ten. The spring game will give us a look and a chance to see how quickly Dowdell hits holes, what his acceleration is like once he gets to the second level, and how good his vision is.

There will be a lot to unpack on Saturday, and a running back will be a position of focus.

Jaylen LIoyd

Jaylen Lloyd is a player that is looking to make a name for himself in a crowded wide receiver room. He showed flashes of his ability last season, recording six catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games.

Lloyd has put together a strong spring, and has received praise from the coaching staff about his speed and ability. We got to see it firsthand last season, as he often used his acceleration to quickly run by defensive backs. For Lloyd, it’s about avoiding the sophomore slump, and making an impact in a receiver room that includes the likes of Jahmal Banks and Isaiah Neyor.

Lloyd has all the potential to be a top-tier receiver. It’s mystifying how he was able to fly under the radar as a three-star recruit. Nevertheless, it will be fun to see what he can do during his time on the field Saturday, and if he can build off it heading into the fall.

Daniel Kaelin

Daniel Kaelin was a highly-touted recruit when he committed to the Nebraska football program last May. He showed his loyalty to the program when he stayed with his commitment following Dylan Raiola doing the same. Now, it’s going to be his chance to shine.

Kaelin has been having strong spring. The quarterback has performed well during several of the team’s scrimmages. He also was able to show off his accuracy and precision both at the Elite 11 camp over the summer, as well as in practice just this month. For all the talk Raiola is getting, Kaelin is no slouch either.

It is important for Nebraska football to develop him, as he should theoretically be next in line following the departure of Raiola to the NFL draft. Having Glenn Thomas in the fold will certainly help with Kaelin’s development. Now it’s just about continuing to take that next step.

It will be exciting to see what he can bring to the table in a game -like setting. Will his accuracy be on display? What kind of intangibles does he have in a setting like this? This is not necessarily a “prove it” type of situation for him. Right now, it’s just about continued development. It could give us a glimpse into the future.

Emmett Johnson

Emmett Johnson burst onto the scene for Nebraska for the last year after injuries decimated the running back position in early September. He is looking to continue to build off solid season last year, and has been getting praise from Matt Rhule.

Johnson played in 12 games last season, and had 90 carries for 411 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to step in and offer stability at the running back position when Nebraska truly needed it.

Furthermore, his explosiveness and his ability to hit holes quickly were evident towards the later part of the season. He really made a name for himself, and now he is looking to make a push in the running back room.

Johnson has worked hard to play at a high level over the course of the spring. Now, we will see if he is able to continue to build off the momentum from last season. Running the football may not be as important in this offensive scheme as it was last year, but it will be nice to know that Nebraska is going to have a formidable one-two punch.

Dylan Raiola

This list would be complete of course without Dylan Raiola. One of the highest-rated quarterbacks in Nebraska’s history, he is being tasked with trying to turn the program around.

You’ve seen all the off-season videos, and anecdotes about his high school all-star game performances. Now, it’s time to see him and in a Nebraska uniform in a game -like setting.

It will be fascinating to see if he can continue with his precision ball placement, and accurate decision-making. He certainly has those intangibles. This was a quarterback who threw for 8,442 yards, 88 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in his high school career.

He is thought to be the quarterback of the future for Nebraska foot. Now it’s just a question of whether or not he can live up to those expectations. He is cool, calm, and collected in front of the media. He seems even more cool, calm, and collected in the pocket. Nebraska needed a Savior at the quarterback position, and Raiola has all the tools to be one. This is the first step towards accomplishing that. All eyes will be focused on him Saturday.

Danny is a Nebraska athletics fan and writer. He also enjoys writing about recruiting in his free time. Danny has been following the Huskers for the last five years. Find him on Twitter @NebCornholio.