Nebraska football’s 5 breakout performers from spring
LINCOLN, Neb. — After 15 practices, 3 scrimmages and months of coverage, here are Land of 10’s top 5 performers of the spring for the Nebraska football team, listed in no particular order.
JD Spielman didn’t necessarily come out of nowhere, but he did make waves this spring.
The shifty redshirt freshman has all but solidified his role as the starting slot receiver. He was scout team co-MVP during the 2016 season, so this is not necessarily a shock. But Spielman did raise some eyebrows at quite a few open practices, making his way through the middle of the field and burning linebackers in coverage a time or 2.
A co-MVP on the scout team with Spielman, Tanner Lee was impressive in his quarterback battle with redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien. Lee carried himself like a starter, and performed like one, too. The redshirt junior topped off his spring with a 190-yard, 3-touchdown performance Saturday in the spring game. The hype was pretty high coming into the spring, and Lee met the expectations.
Early enrollees are usually a mixed bag. Some, such as WRs Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Jaevon McQuitty, battle injuries. Some, such as LB Avery Roberts, solidify spots as backups. But this spring, Gebbia impressed everyone with his arm. The quarterback was quick and decisive, and he impressed the 78,000 fans at the spring game with his 200-plus yard performance. Now, all the kid needs to do is hit the weight room.
Speaking of the weight room, Stoltenberg seems to have lived in it. The nose tackle bulked up in the winter and spring and now looks like a force in the middle of Bob Diaco’s new 3-4 defense. The junior not only took it upon himself to rule that nose tackle position, but he has also become a vocal leader of the defense. He’ll be a huge centerpiece of the 2017 team.
Both Diaco and safeties coach Bob Elliott had nothing but high praise for Williams this spring, and for good reason. The junior safety is the quarterback of the defense, setting up the linebackers and corners in front of him before the play — both Diaco and Elliott agree that Williams seems to fit that role perfectly. Williams is a 2-year player with a wealth of experience, and he’ll be a key ingredient in the fall in making this 3-4 defense really work.
Honorable mention: Junior WR Stanley Morgan Jr., senior WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, senior CB Chris Jones