With classes beginning Monday at Nebraska, the football team’s eight early enrollees will officially begin their journey as Huskers student-athletes. The prospects settled onto campus at various points over the weekend, and team workouts under new coach Scott Frost and staff will begin next week.
Some recruits, such as 4-star signee Adrian Martinez, had a whirlwind week leading up to their move, as the Fresno, Calif. native was participating at the Under Armour All-American game on Thursday in Orlando, Fla. and moved to Nebraska on Friday.
For now though, let’s take a quick look at the eight early enrollees and what Nebraska fans can expect from them during their first year on campus.
OL Will Farniok
A 3-star prospect, Will Farniok is still probably a couple of years away from seriously contributing on the offensive line. However, he knew the importance of enrolling early due to his familiarity with the program. His older brother, Matt, will be a redshirt sophomore next season and the elder Farniok is expected to play a pivotal role on the line next season. Once Will spends some time on a college training program, especially under a heralded strength and conditioning coach in Zach Duval, he should become a key asset.
Justin McGriff was one of two former UCF commits to eventually sign with Nebraska. The key in landing McGriff was tight ends coach Sean Beckton, and now McGriff will be coached by the man who recruited him shortly. Signing and enrolling early wasn’t the original plan for McGriff, but the Tampa, Fla., native’s familiarity with Beckton and the rest of the staff allowed him to feel comfortable and make the move. The 6-foot-6 McGriff should be a massive target in the passing game, especially near the red zone, by the end of his Nebraska career.
Jaron Woodyard’s former coaches said he will be the fastest player on the field no matter who the opponent is. The junior college product has experience and provides the offense with home-run capability every time he steps on the field. Woodyard can run the post route effectively, while also having the skill to catch the ball near the line of scrimmage, make a move and then break away from the rest of the defense. In Frost’s offense, expect Woodyard to perhaps develop into one of the designated “big-play” guys.
For every Woodyard, you need a guy on the other side of the defense to stop big plays from happening, and that’s where Deontai Williams comes in. A self-proclaimed “sniper,” Williams is a hard-hitting defender. He ferociously closes on the balls, and receivers should certainly fear passes across the middle if Williams is in the vicinity. Williams also offers versatility, playing any secondary position. In fact, look for his biggest contributions to come at the nickel corner spot.
RB Greg Bell
Running backs are expected to contribute in both the running and passing game in Frost’s offense, and Greg Bell is certainly capable of doing that. With a youthful running back corps that is tailored to the former coaching staff’s pro-style offense, Bell will have a real chance for serious playing time in 2018. Bell can also line up in the slot and make an impact there, too. Expect the staff to get creative in their usage of him.
Not too many scholarships are designated to kickers, but Barret Pickering was a highly-touted prospect and comes from the powerhouse Hoover (Ala.) High School program. Pickering is expected to compete for the starting job right away, as redshirt freshman Cole Frahm is the only other kicker currently listed on the roster. Enrolling early only helps Pickering’s chances of winning the kicking gig.
ILB Will Honas
One of the biggest wins of the early signing period for Nebraska, Will Honas was the nation’s top JUCO inside linebacker in the class. Of all the defensive players who enrolled early, it’s likely Honas can make the most significant impact during his first season. Participating in offseason workouts will only help Honas, who can afford to beef up a little to help make him a force in the middle. However, his toughness, tenacity and instincts are apparent on his game film. Expct Honas to see the field early and often.
QB Adrian Martinez
Nebraska’s biggest win of the 2018 recruiting cycle, Martinez has the potential to be a multi-year starter for the Huskers. He can stretch defenses with his arm and legs. Enrolling early was important for Martinez. By simply talking to him, you can tell he not only wants to be on campus to learn, but to compete for the starting job immediately. And he’ll certainly have the chance to do so, with redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and sophomore Patrick O’Brien as the only other quarterbacks currently on the roster.