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5 position battles for Nebraska Football heading into fall camp



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Fall camp is less than 10 days away for Nebraska football and here are the top five position battles for the Cornhuskers in fall camp.

Nebraska football will report for fall camp on July 30th. Practices will commence the next day. It will be an exciting time and with a new coaching staff, there are plenty of questions to answer.

There are going to be a bunch of position battles to watch too. You got an idea of what the depth chart is in the spring. Yet, that’s always a work in progress. Players have progressed since then and others have joined the roster such as top-ranked 2023 recruit Malachi Coleman, who wasn’t an early enrollee.

Some positions are settled. Nobody is going to challenge Jeff Sims to be the starting quarterback for instance. But there are some interesting position battles looking ahead to fall camp and here are five that Nebraska football fans should watch for.

Running back

Anthony Grant was the starter last season and nearly rushed for 1,000 yards. At times, I thought Grant could have gotten a little bit more. At other times, he did an incredible job to get one or two yards.

With an improved offensive line and some coaching from EJ Barthel, I’m intrigued to see what Grant can do. However, it’s not going to be easy to hold off Gabe Ervin for the starting job.

Ervin has never really been healthy during his first two seasons. He won the starting job as a freshman and flashed a little in 2022. In recent pictures for the official roster, Ervin looks absolutely ripped.

Rahmir Johnson will be a factor too and don’t forget about Emmett Johnson or Kwinten Ives. But this feels like an Ervin-Grant battle for the starting job, even though both will see plenty of carries.

Wide receiver

This might be the most interesting position battle to watch. Billy Kemp has locked down a starting job. He’ll be the top slot guy and will play some on the outside too.

But the other spots will be the subject of heated competition. Marcus Washington is back from last season and he really came on down the stretch. But Nebraska football has a new coaching staff, as well as a new quarterback, and his connection to Casey Thompson, doesn’t do much good now that Sims is slinging it.

Zavier Betts is also the real deal. If his head is on straight, which is certainly appears to be since he did the work to become academically eligible, he’s a top-150 talent. Betts flashed some dynamic playmaking early in his Nebraska football career and I’m really excited to see what he’ll do this season.

Add Malachi Coleman to the list, along with some other talented freshmen, as well as veterans like Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda and Josh Fleeks, and you have an interesting position battle that will play out during fall camp.

Offensive line

One of the biggest objectives for Matt Rhule in his first season as Nebrasa football head coach is improving the offensive line. That alone will lead to a win improvement.

The good news is that there are some solid pieces in place. Teddy Prochazka is a former top-100 prospect. He’s also 6-foot-10, 320 pounds. If that mammoth of a man can stay healthy (five stars in two seasons) Nebraska will be much better off.

If Teddy is healthy, he will play left tackle. If he’s not, my guess is Turner Corcoran will get the first chance to play there. However, I’m trying to figure out how Ethan Piper fits into the mix. He’s heading to Big Ten Media Days which makes me feel like the staff at least views him as a starter.

The staff could see itself having six offensive line starters and I see that. Nouredin Nouili is back after being suspended last season. Many have penciled him in to start at guard. However, Piper is going to have something to say about that.

All in all, having six starting-caliber players isn’t a bad thing. I actually like what I saw from Henry Lutovsky too. Bryce Benhart and Ben Scott both feel like sure-fire starters to me and looking at the group, I have to agree with coach Rhule that the O-line will be much better than people expect.

EDGE/pass rush

You’ll notice that the updated Nebraska football roster doesn’t have any position as EDGE. The Huskers actually have just three defensive positions listed: defensive line, linebacker, and defensive back.

It’s an idea I really like. Tony White has preached versatility with his defensive scheme and that’s going to pay off for Nebraska football, which was too predictable in the past.

It’s clear to me that MJ Sherman and Chief Borders will both see time at the JACK linebacker position. I could also see them getting opportunities as an EDGE too. Sometimes, the two positions will be the same.

If Sherman starts and you drop him down to be an EDGE rusher, then you have a 4-2-5. That’s where someone like Cameron Lenhardt or Princwill Umanmielen could get on the field early. I don’t know 100 percent that those freshmen will start but they will see the field a lot.

Blaise Gunnerson and Jimari Butler need to take advantage of this opportunity if they ever want to become contributors. Gunnerson is listed as a D-lineman. Butler is listed as a linebacker. Regardless, they will need to pressure the quarterback or they aren’t going to stay on the field.

Same with Lenhardt and Umanmielen. The pass rush is a major question mark and one or two of the four guys listed will need to emerge with some productivity in 2023.


We touched on linebacker a little with Borders and Sherman. Sherman seems like the starting JACK to me but that was after the spring game a lot can change. Butler could play in that spot, as can Borders and Maverick Noonan, who also stood out this spring.

All four of those guys should see snaps. Just like on the defensive line, there will be plenty of players rotating. Nick Henrich and Luke Reimer are the presumed starters at the inside positions, but John Bullock saw significant playing time in the spring game, plus I’m excited to see what Eric Fields and Dylan Rogers can do as freshmen.

In short, there’s a lot of talent for three starting positions, so it will be interesting to see how White deploys it all during the 2023 season.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska