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Nebraska Football: Projecting offensive depth chart before spring



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football will start spring practices on March 20 and here’s our projected depth chart for the Huskers.

The Huskers have just wrapped up their winter conditioning under new head coach Matt Rhule and in less than 10 days, Nebraska football will begin spring practices.

It’s going to be an interesting time for Nebraska football fans. Rhule will be coaching the Huskers on the football field for the first time and I for one can’t wait for the spring game in April.

We should learn a lot about the Huskers this spring. Yet, it seems like the players already have an idea of where they stand. Rhule said in his press conference recently that the depth charts are posted. He talked about players with decisions to make because the roster is way over the 85 limit and spring will be a determining factor for some.

There are 39 new scholarship players joining Nebraska football next season but not all of them will be taking part in a spring ball. However, there will be a bunch of new faces, and here is our depth chart projection for the Huskers heading into spring practices.

QB1: Casey Thompson; QB2: Jeff Sims

This is going to be the position battle everyone will be watching. Sims is the former Georgia Tech quarterback and of course, he seems like a better fit for Rhule’s system because he’s a dual threat.

However, Rhule’s Baylor teams didn’t always necessarily have a running quarterback. Casey Thompson can run when needed — it just wasn’t an emphasis last season. Keeping him healthy is important and in my opinion, when it comes to throwing the ball — it isn’t that close.

Thompson has an elite deep ball and is a much more accurate passer. Sims only completed 58 percent of his passes last season and for his career, he’s a 57.5 career passer with 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

Casey has never completed fewer than 63 percent of his passes. He’s also got 47 touchdown passes, (41 over the past two seasons) compared to 19 interceptions.

Both quarterbacks need to be better at taking care of the ball. And in my opinion, Thompson is that guy right now. I think both will start games because I don’t know that Thompson can make it through an entire season, but come Game 1 my bet is that Rhule feels Casey Thompson gives him the best chance to win.

RB1: Anthony Grant; RB2: Ajay Allen and Rahmir Johnson

With an improved offensive line, Anthony Grant should rush for over 1,000 yards in 2023. Grant was one of the better Big Ten running backs last season, even with a line that struggled to open holes consistently.

Mark Whipple also refused to commit to the run. It was mind-boggling how Grant would be ignored, even when he was productive. Add Ajay Allen back to the mix and the Huskers will have a dynamic 1-2 punch.

One forgotten man last season was Rahmir Johnson. He got limited opportunities, in what was a curious move. He also had some poor moments, such as a key dropped pass against Illinois. However, he’s talented and I feel like as a pass-catcher and a runner, he’ll make a positive impact next season.

WR1s: Marcus Washington, Billy Kemp, Zavier Betts; WR2s: Josh Fleeks, Malachi Coleman, Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda

Malachi Coleman didn’t enroll early but he seems like a guy that can make an impact right away as a freshman. Marcus Washington also seems poised to take over the No. 1 after a productive first season with Nebraska football.

Washington isn’t quite Trey Palmer, but he’s a legit deep threat. Billy Kemp is a guy I’m really excited about and I wouldn’t be shocked if he led the Huskers in receptions this season.

Zavier Betts might be a surprise to some as a No. 1 but the talent has never been in question and by all accounts, Betts has looked great in conditioning. I expect that to carry over to the spring and also to the 2023 season.

TE1: Thomas Fidone; TE2: Arik Gilbert

Nebraska football has gotten solid production from the tight end spot over the years and that should continue in 2023. Thomas Fidone was formerly the No. 2 overall tight end in his recruiting class and Arik Gilbert is a former five-star prospect.

The talent at the tight-end position is spectacular. Fidone sounded good to go when he met with the media recently and said he believes he will be a first or second-round pick when his playing days in Lincoln are over.

That’s great to hear and having him healthy could be game-changing for Nebraska football in 2023. It’s hard to know what you’re going to get with Gilbert, but he has also impressed so far in his time on campus and even with the loss of Travis Vokolek, Nebraska should be better at tight end next season.

O-Line (Left to right): Teddy Prochazka, Nouredin Nouili, Ben Scott, Bryce Benhart, Turner Corcoran.

The offensive line is going to be a major talking point leading up to the 2023 season and it’s something Nebraska football fans will be watching closely this spring.

Donovan Raiola needs to get more out of this group and now that he’s on a staff that’s actually invested in running the ball, that should help.

With Prochazka and Nouili returning after being starters in 2021 and adding Ben Scott, a multi-year starter at Arizona State, it’s like Nebraska football has added three starters along the offensive line. Benhart has been starting for three seasons and a move inside might be the best thing for him.

Corcoran could also move inside and Benhart could stay where he’s at. But Corcoran seems like the best pass blocker to me and Benhart could be better suited to a move inside where he won’t have to deal with speed rushers all the time.

Ideally, Nebraska will add another starting-caliber tackle in the transfer portal this spring. Hunter Anthony did have some college experience starting games before but is no longer on the roster, so again, depth needs to be addressed.

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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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