Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost watching the action from the field during the Red and White Spring Game
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Big Red Recon: Another Wild Week for Nebraska Football Ahead of 2021 Season

August 20, 2021

We are so close to the 2021 football season. It was a quiet, fairly boring offseason until this week. Reports of an NCAA investigation into Nebraska has everyone fired up as the Huskers turn their attention on Illinois. The Huskers are also putting the finishing touches on the internal depth chart as position battles are being settled.

Let’s get to the Recon.

2022 Commits

Chase Androff, Tight End, Lakeville, Minnesota

Jake Appleget, Outside Linebacker, Lincoln, Nebraska

Valen Erickson, offensive lineman, Chicago, Illinois

Ernest Hausmann, Outside Linebacker, Columbus, Nebraska

Ashton Hayes, Running Back, Reno, Nevada

Victor Jones Jr., Wide Receiver, Orlando, Florida

Grant Page, Wide Receiver, Boulder, Colorado

Hayden Schwartz, Defensive End, Jacksonville, Florida

Richard Torres, Quarterback, San Antonio, Texas

2022 Needs

QB 0 DL 1
RB 0 MLB 0
WR 0 OLB 1
TE 0 DB 2
OL 2 K/P 0

The Recon:

>> The biggest camp battle this year has been at the running back spot. Several players have competed to be the top guy. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said at the start of fall camp that five players were in the mix. Going into game week I’m hearing Gabe Ervin Jr. and Sevion Morrison are the top two backs. They could be “or” on the depth chart if one is released.

I am curious how the other backs who don’t win the job right now handle things. Rahmir Johnson has had his best camp as a Husker according to Lubick.

“Catching the ball, pass protection, knowing his assignments in the run game, running hard downhill. He’s doing all those things and we ask a lot of our running backs,” Lubick said. “We got to be able to not be one dimensional, we got to be complete players, so I think he’s worked on all aspects of his game.”

One thing that you can count on at running back is needing depth. Keeping the players engaged that are not on top of that depth chart will be key.

>> There are a couple things that are more intriguing to me this year than normal. It’s going to be tough to pick captains. Adrian Martinez and Ben Stille feel like locks. Austin Allen is also a strong contender, alongside JoJo Domann. Cameron Jurgens, Deontai Williams, Marquel Dismuke and Cam Taylor-Britt all have a case.

>> The other thing I have my eye on more than usual is Blackshirts. It’s hard to see that staying at 11 based on how much we’ve heard about depth and rotations at different positions. You likely have three with JoJo Domann, Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor at outside linebacker. Does Nick Henrich get one at inside linebacker since he’ll play starter snaps in a rotation? Casey Rogers is in the same boat as Henrich. Rogers won’t be the first player out there but will play a huge role.

>> The Huskers seem to be getting healthier at tight end. A couple of weeks ago there was concern about both Allen and Travis Vokolek missing time. The time both were away allowed for other players to get extra reps. Chris Hickman has made the most of his opportunity after moving back to tight end. Lubick wasn’t too concerned about Allen missing time.

“We’re starting to get back healthy at that position,” Lubick said. We’ll be healthy for that first game. It allows you to develop depth. Austin Allen has played a lot of football. So, if he misses a practice it’s not the end of the world. He knows his assignments.”

I expect to see Allen starting against Illinois. At this point I believe things are a bit more day-to-day with Vokolek for the season opener.

>> June official visitor Nathan Vail is set to announce his commitment this weekend. The defensive back was positive about his visit to Nebraska. However, I don’t expect the pick to be the Huskers. Duke is a strong leader at this point and I’d put Georgia Tech as the second option. The Huskers will take the search for defensive backs this cycle into the regular season.

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