With Nebraska’s spring football practices behind us, what’s the outlook at every position group?
While additional change to the roster is expected this summer, plenty was learned about where it currently stands this spring. Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class — at least those that did not enroll early —also starts to arrive on campus as early as May 22, so the depth chart could look very different in a couple of months.
Until then, the Huskers sit at 84 scholarships on the roster. Nebraska can have 85 scholarships (per the NCAA limit) by fall camp, so there could be a couple of additions depending on any more attrition. Until then, Nebraska’s scholarships are distributed fairly evenly between offense and defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: 3
Below, we’ll dig into the offense position by position.
- Noah Vedral (sophomore)
- Tristan Gebbia (redshirt freshman)
- Adrian Martinez (freshman)
Outlook after spring: Nebraska had three scholarship quarterbacks until the departure of sophomore Patrick O’Brien. His departure left some to wonder if coach Scott Frost would pursue a graduate transfer quarterback.
While the scholarship aspect looks alarming, the Huskers also have sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch. Frost has been nothing but complimentary of Bunch, so he’s expected to add valuable depth behind Gebbia and Martinez. The Huskers also have sophomore transfer Noah Vedral, although he is required to sit out a season because of NCAA transfer rules.
As for Gebbia and Martinez, the race is truly open for the starting spot. While Gebbia has the bigger arm, Martinez is more of a traditional read-option dual-threat. Even Bunch could fit into a spread passing offense if needed.
Would another scholarship quarterback help? Absolutely, but it’s likely not needed if Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco already have the quarterback of the future on the roster. They have some depth too, so it’s not necessarily a big deal if the Huskers get through 2018 with the quarterbacks room as is.
RUNNING BACK (6)
- Devine Ozigbo (senior)
- Mikale Wilbon (senior)
- Greg Bell (junior)
- Tre Bryant (junior)
- Jaylin Bradley (sophomore)
- Maurice Washington (freshman)
Outlook after spring: Nearly all of Nebraska’s scholarship running backs are returning, which should be a good thing. The reality is that it’s still hard to predict what the Huskers will get with this group.
Bryant is still not fully recovered from a knee injury, but it’s hoped he will be good to go come fall. Washington’s status is still unknown, but more should hopefully be known soon. Bell is expected to be a big part of this offense, but it’s hard to know for sure until the season rolls around.
Regardless, the running backs accounted for only 1,264 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017. Running backs coach Ryan Held wants better production from his group, so it’ll be interesting to watch the group evolve. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of getting everyone healthy and good to go.
WIDE RECEIVER (11)
- Stanley Morgan Jr. (senior)
- Mike Williams (junior)
- Jaron Woodyard (junior)
- Tyjon Lindsey (sophomore)
- JD Spielman (sophomore)
- Jaevon McQuitty (redshirt freshman)
- Katerian Legrone (freshman)
- Justin McGriff (freshman)
- Dominick Watt (freshman)
- Andre Hunt (freshman)
- Miles Jones (freshman)
Outlook after spring: Talk about a talented group. The wide receivers are led by Morgan, who is back with unfinished business. After falling 14 yards short of 1,000 yards in 2017, he’s hoping to become the first Nebraska receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season this year. Morgan is also the only senior on the roster after the departure of Keyan Williams.
Spielman is also expected to have a big 2018 season, as he fits Frost’s offense exceptionally well. Both Spielman and Morgan were bright spots of an otherwise rocky 2017 season.
Beyond those two, there is plenty of young and new talent. Lindsey looks like he’ll have a big year, and McQuitty could as well. Beyond that, there’s a lot of unproven talent but it’ll be fun to watch it develop.
It also will be interesting to see if Jones is used as a running back in certain scenarios, especially if injuries and qualifications keep anyone from playing. That could shift the scholarship chart a bit, but more will be known come fall.
TIGHT END (6)
- Matt Snyder (junior)
- David Engelhaupt (sophomore)
- Jack Stoll (sophomore)
- Austin Allen (redshirt freshman)
- Kurt Rafdal (redshirt freshman)
- Cameron Jurgens (freshman)
Outlook after spring: This group is essentially brand new, especially after the departure of the graduating Tyler Hoppes. The only tight end to catch a pass in 2017 other than Hoppes was Stoll. He had 8 passes for 89 yards.
However, there is a lot of potential here. While it’s mostly unproven, players such as Rafdal showed a lot of promise in Nebraska’s spring game. Jurgens has not yet arrived on campus, but he could be an immediate factor in 2018.
There are also walk-ons that could make an impact, but the scholarship players should elevate this room quite a bit.
OFFENSIVE LINE (13)
- Tanner Farmer (senior)
- Jerald Foster (senior)
- Cole Conrad (senior)
- Jalin Barnett (junior)
- Christian Gaylord (junior)
- Brenden Jaimes (sophomore)
- Matt Farniok (sophomore)
- John Raridon (sophomore)
- Boe Wilson (sophomore)
- Broc Bando (redshirt freshman)
- Matt Sichterman (redshirt freshman)
- Will Farniok (freshman)
- Willie Canty (freshman)
Outlook after spring: Frost has said his system is beneficial for offensive linemen, and that appears to be true after spring football concluded. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of question marks surrounding this group, though.
Offensive line coach Greg Austin has been in this spot before. He doesn’t see Nebraska as the overhaul he faced at Central Florida, but it will take some work. After all, the Huskers rushed for only 107.5 yards per game in 2017, ranking 120th nationally. Nebraska wasn’t much better on a per-carry basis, rushing for only 3.5 yards per carry, ranking 112th. That’s what Austin is tasked with fixing.
There are also depth chart questions, like who will start at center in light of Decker’s departure. There are also new faces, such as Will Farniok and Canty, who could add depth right away.
One scholarship of note on the offensive line is Brokop, who recently updated his Twitter profile to “former Nebraska football player.” Nothing has officially been confirmed with Brokop though, so he remains on the list for now.
The key is that six returners on the offensive line started at some point last season. That’s potentially a good sign, especially for a group that has plenty of talent that simply hasn’t been developed properly. It’s still too early to say what this group looks like come fall, but Austin has been hard at work setting them down the right path.