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Storylines and 5 players to watch in Nebraska football spring game



Nebraska football
Oct 29, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers nickel back Isaac Gifford (23) and defensive end Jimari Butler (10) celebrate after a stop against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football fans will get to watch their team play on Saturday and here are some storylines to follow, as well as five Huskers to watch.

It’s a great day to be a Nebraska football fan. The Huskers will be taking the field for the first time under Matt Rhule. Nebraska legend Frank Solich will also finally be getting his due.

It was a shame when Frank was run out of town. He won a conference championship with Nebraska football, won the Fiesta Bowl, and finished No. 2 that same season, while also guiding the Huskers to a BCS national title game.

While the transition to a pro-style system, or away from the triple option seemed like a good move. I truly believe if Solich remained at Nebraska, he would have won, just like he did, a lot, at Ohio.

It’s a lesson Nebraska didn’t learn as it also fired Bo Pelini after a nine-win season. It has only had one winning season since then. I’m confident Matt Rhule will change that and I can’t wait for 1 PM CST.

Nebraska spring game storylines

All eyes are going to be on the quarterback. That’s true of every scrimmage but especially for the Huskers since they don’t know who the starter is going to be. It’s a big opportunity for Jeff Sims, but also for Henrich Haarberg to announce that he’s not going away.

Haarberg has taken a big step forward this spring by all accounts, yet I’m interested to see what he’ll do when the bright lights are on. His development is very promising for the QB room going forward and that’s something every Nebraska football fan will be watching.

I’m also interested to see what the defense looks like under Tony White. How much do we actually see the 3-3-5? What do the nickel and dime packages look like? Are we going to see 4-2-5 in pass-rush situations?

Rhule said the Huskers weren’t going to be vanilla in terms of their offensive play-calling and I hope they aren’t on defense either. I’m not saying they have to show everything, but I want to see players executing things they will run during a real game.

Lastly, I’ll be watching the trenches closely on both sides of the ball. Rhule has praised the offensive line, particularly Bryce Benhart. How will Ben Scott look? etc. I’ve been worried about the defensive line but the development of Nash Hutmacher has been promising. Stephon Wynn sounds like he has had a good spring too.

However, if the Huskers are going to turn things around in the win column next season, the play in the trenches has to be better.

5 Players to watch in the Nebraska Football spring game

Jeff Sims: There’s a good chance he will be the starting quarterback next fall and Saturday could go a long way toward getting the advantage of Casey Thompson. We’ve heard good things about Sims but this will be our first chance to see him at Memorial Stadium and I’m hoping the reality meets the hype.

Thomas Fidone: I’m excited to see what Arik Gilbert can do, but I’m much more intrigued by Thomas Fidone. I believe him when he says he can be a first or second-round pick. I’m hopeful he looks like one this season. That would be huge for the Huskers and he’s got the ability. Truth be told, outside of the quarterback position, Fidone might be the biggest X-factor for Nebraska football in 2023. If he can finally deliver on his potential, it will be a dramatic change for the offense.

MJ Sherman/Chief Borders: Ok. I cheated on this one but I’m very interested to see how Tony White employs the former SEC defenders. Borders is an EDGE but I also expect him to play some more traditional outside linebacker. I think the same goes for Sherman. My question about this defense all along is where will the sacks come from? Sherman and Borders should be able to contribute. Jimari Butler is another name to watch along with Blaise Gunnerson, but I’m keeping an eye on how White uses those pieces to pressure the quarterback.

Bryce Benhart: Matt Rhule is pounding the table for this dude. He once again said this week he thinks that the former four-star recruit is an NFL player. Benhart has started a lot of games at Nebraska and he’s got the frame to play in the league. His footwork needs to improve and I’m glad they got rid of those knee braces. I’m not sure it will make a difference but the bend against pass rushers needed to be better. So, I’ll be watching Benhart closely on Saturday and if he has been reinvigorated by the new staff, that will be a huge win for Nebraska football moving forward.

Malcolm Hartzog: It was tough to narrow this list to five. Hartzog was my selection on defense because I’m fascinated to see how White will use him. He’s been talked about as a cornerback and safety. He’s one of the best cover guys on the roster, but also the best ballhawk. The dude just has a nose for the ball and think a slot corner-type role that would let him play both would be ideal. My only concern there is that Hartzog is probably Nebraska’s second-best cornerback. That’s something else to watch on Saturday because if someone else can play on the boundary across from Quinton Newsome, Hartzog could roam free and that could be a really good thing.

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Nebraska Football zeroing in on local 2025 LB



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is beginning to make inroads into the 2025 recruiting class, and they will have visitors on campus next weekend. Hosting some local talent. 2025 outside linebacker Zayvion Campbell will be in Lincoln next weekend.

This is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, Ryan Gottula is the head coach at Lincoln Southeast. His son Gunnar is part of the 2023 Nebraska football recruiting class. The family connection could help Nebraska football land Campbell.

Secondly, Nebraska is continuing to recruit in-state. This is something that we have seen in the 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes it appears that in-state recruiting will be a focal point. This is something the coaching staff has zeroed in on as one of their main goals during their time at Nebraska. They are sticking to that goal.

What could he bring to Nebraska football?

Campbell is a very intriguing player. He measures in at around six-foot-three, 200 pounds. He has good pursuit ability, and is able to wrap up and make tackles with ease. Campbell would be able to fit the Nebraska football defense by providing a solid presence inside. Campbell uses a variety of moves in order to get to the quarterback as well.

He would give Nebraska a player that could be used in multiple ways in a 3-3-5 defense. It would be fun to see defensive coordinator Tony White work with him. He has the ability to rush as well as fill gaps on the inside. That type of versatility is what Nebraska football should be looking for defensively with the scheme they have.

At the very least, Campbell is coming to campus to check things out.  It’s important that Nebraska continues to look at multiple candidates at the linebacker position. At the very least,  they need to make an effort to continue the recruiting pipeline in-state. The 2023 and 2024 classes were filled with Nebraska-born players. This is a trend that needs to continue.

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Nebraska Football: QB visit canceled and a Carter Nelson update



Nebraska football
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is set for its first official visit weekend of June and Kamari McClellan has canceled, plus the latest on Carter Nelson.

One of the big questions lingering about Nebraska football recruiting this weekend was whether or not three-star quarterback Kamari McClellan would make it for his official visit.

It was still on the schedule for this weekend according to the recruiting sites and in a recent interview, McClellan indicated he was still coming. However, with the recent commitment of Daniel Kaelin, it was only going to happen if Nebraska football suddenly decided to take two quarterbacks in 2024.

Anything is possible but the visit has now been canceled according to Sean Callahan of Husker Online. I think McClellan will wind up at Clemson or another team scrambling for a QB. Nebraska football was in that position and the kid is talented, but Kaelin, who is heading to the Elite 11, is a much better get.

Daniel Kaelin will visit Nebraska football again

Speaking of Kaelin, it wasn’t lip service when he said he wants to be around when any recruit comes to visit. The quarterback will take his official visit the same weekend as Carter Nelson.

But he’s now on the list for an unofficial visit this weekend. There are a couple of wideouts expected to visit. Jacory Barney is one and the Huskers lead for the three-star wideout via the On3 prediction machine. He’s ranked 459th overall out of Miami, Florida.

Williams Nettles is also visiting but he could be a cornerback or receiver. Caleb Pyfrom is a three-star in-state tackle also visiting and Kaelin being on campus could help push him toward a commitment, which seems to be where things are trending according to recent crystal balls.

It’s just clear that Kaelin is serious about doing what he can for this class, no matter how many times he needs to come to campus.

Another Carter Nelson visit

Add Penn State to the list of teams to worry about in the Carter Nelson sweepstakes. He’s going to visit the Nittany Lions on June 16th, which will be his fourth scheduled official visit.

Nelson is going to visit Georgia this weekend, followed by Notre Dame next weekend. The Huskers just got a Futurecast projection from Greg Smith of Rivals to land Carter, the top-ranked recruit in the state in 2024 and things seem to be trending in the right direction.

My thought is that Nelson is likely going to take these visits and make a decision sometime this summer, maybe in July or August. That’s just a guess. I don’t see this recruitment bleeding into the season and Nebraska football has put more effort in than any other program.

That doesn’t mean anything on its own. But Carter just took a visit to Nebraska along with Kaelin and that connection seems to be helping. Nelson hasn’t talked about his recruitment a ton, so it’s hard to get a read, but the tea leaves are pointing in Nebraska’s direction.

We’ll see if that’s still true after the next three weekends.

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Nebraska Football trending in right direction with Florida CB



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football is having a newsworthy recruiting month to start up June. The program is already trending with four-star corner Mario Buford. Now, it appears that another corner may be in their sights as well.

Amare Sanders is the name to keep an eye on. He is a four-star corner He is ranked numerically at 87.50 according to the On3 recruiting rankings. He plays at Gulliver Prep high school, and is from Miami, Fla.

Sanders is a three-star recruit and measures in at 6-foot-2, 167 pounds. Right now, Nebraska is in the lead for his recruitment according to the On3 Recruiting Prediction Machine. He is also visiting Nebraska this weekend, in what is turning out to be a big weekend for visitors.

Sanders has tremendous athleticism for a corner. He is able to make the proper reads on passing plays, and that allows him to close on wide receivers quickly and break up potential completions. He does a good job of turning his hips, and reading the play in its entirety. This is certainly important to his game and the way he plays. He also is a decent size for a corner, as he measures in at 6-foot-2 167 pounds.

Nebraska football making Florida a priority

It’s clear that Nebraska football wants to establish a stake in Florida. They are trending with wide receiver Jacory Barney Jr, and already have a commitment from Willis McGahee IV. Both of those players hail from Miami Palmetto. Sanders goes to Gulliver Prep, which is another highly-touted school in the state of Florida.

Currently, the 2024 Nebraska football recruiting class ranks 31st overall nationally with seven commitments. They have focused on both sides of the football, and are landing talented prospects both in and out of the state of Nebraska.

It will be interesting to see if Sanders ends up coming to Nebraska. The fact that he is visiting this weekend and is trending towards the Huskers is certainly a positive sign. The program done work in Florida before, but it seems like this time around their efforts will stick. Recruiting in Florida is a key component for success. Nebraska football is trying to establish that.

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