It’s finally here. The Red-White Spring Game is here and Husker fans will have their first chance to see the new-look Huskers led by Scott Frost. In a lot of way this will be a memorable day for fans as they hope years from now this is the start of something special. There is a lot of recruiting information to get into so let’s dive right in.
Thomas Grayson, running back, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Garrett Nelson, defensive end, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Ethan Piper, defensive tackle, Norfolk, Nebraska
Garrett Snodgrass, athlete, York, Nebraska
>>On Wednesday, six coaches from the Huskers staff hit the road to see 30-plus high schools in the state of Nebraska. This one-day swarm was mostly focused on checking back in on the high school coaches after they got to meet the staff at the coaches’ clinic over the weekend. On Thursday, running back coach Ryan Held was asked what was gained from the in-state tour.
“It was awesome. I love going into the small towns and seeing the downtown and architecture and everything. Some schools hadn’t seen us in a little bit so they were appreciative of us being there," he said. "We don’t want to miss anybody whether it’s a scholarship kid or a walk on. We want these coaches to feel like they are part of the family. It’s very important to us. There is one school that didn’t have anyone for four years but has an 8th-grader that’s 6'5". That’s four or five years from now but we don’t want to miss on that kid. If we don’t go in there, we don’t know about him.
"We want these Nebraska coaches to know that we want them to be part of the deal and the journey to get the place back to where it needs to be.”
>>One position that has mostly eluded Nebraska in recent years on the recruiting trail is the hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker. Incoming 4-star Caleb Tannor fits the profile exactly and Guy Thomas has the measurables needed but the roster is lacking dynamic playmakers at that spot. Outside linebacker coach Jovan Dewitt gave an illuminating answer Thursday when asked about the types high school players they are looking for when they recruit to that spot.
“There are really two different profiles," Dewitt said. "Outside linebacker is a little weird. There is the guy that has always had their hand in the dirt, that’s been a WDE on whatever recruiting website you are looking at. He’s been really good at pass rush. So, does he have the quick twitch ability in space? Or you look at a guy who has been at a safety spot, 6'2", 6'3" and 200 pounds. Maybe he’s not really a Big Ten safety. Maybe he’s really a guy that could roll down and be the strong safety which is really what outside backers are now.
"Now, he’s above average in terms of skill set and twitch, space movement. You are either looking at a five-technique, long kid. Length is a big thing we look for. When talking characteristics, we are looking at play radius. So, play radius is either your natural length or speed, the ability to change direction and we want them to be violent. Those are the baselines that we have that are non-negotiables. You have to have play radius, speed and violence.”
>>The visit list for the spring game is actually still developing and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are additions to the group. As it stands right now, five 2018 commits will be in town (DB Cam Taylor, TE Cameron Jurgens, DE Tate Wildeman, DE Casey Rogers and S Cam Jones). All of the 2019 commits (DE Garrett Nelson, 3-star RB Thomas Grayson, 3-star DT Ethan Piper and ATH Garrett Snodgrass) are scheduled to be in Lincoln too.
The list of 2019 recruits with offers that will be in town does not feature the star power of last season in which you had a couple of 5-star recruits and many 4-stars that were national names. However, there are some very important targets that will be on campus. 4-star TE Chris Hickman from Omaha Burke will be on campus for his second visit of the spring. 3-star DE Ty Robinson will be in Lincoln for his second visit of the spring as well. Robinson is a dark horse candidate to commit this weekend. He has family ties to the state of Nebraska and is exactly the type of athlete this staff wants at defensive end. 3-star DE Mosai Newsom is a player to keep an eye on this weekend. Nebraska has made the defender from Iowa a big priority as his lead recruiter is defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. It’s Newsom’s third trip to Lincoln in five weeks and he is the most likely player to commit this weekend.
>>There are a few other intriguing names on the list of visitors, including 4-star WR Kyle Ford. The Huskers are working hard to make sure that Ford makes the trip as he has built a nice relationship with Troy Walters but the visit is not set in stone yet. 4-star RB John Bivens is making the trip with his family from Ohio. Bivens is a do-it-all back who would fit very well in the offense. Nebraska would also love to put themselves in a good position with 4-star LB Ge'mon Eaford this weekend. He is a pass rush specialist at defensive end in high school that projects to linebacker in college due to his size.
>>Something to keep an eye on this weekend is the 2020 talent that will be on hand. Right now, Nebraska is scheduled to host five national recruits from the 2020 class. The group is headlined by 4-star WR Javian Hester from the same high school as 2019 commit Thomas Grayson. Hester already has offers from Ohio State and Oklahoma is 6-4, 170 and has track speed. Also, 2020 4-star WR Zavier Betts from Bellevue West will be making a return trip to Lincoln after coming for a Junior Day.
>>The consensus settling in right now with the quarterback battle is that Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez have separated themselves from the pack, with Gebbia having the edge right now. Based on everything I’m hearing, I agree with that assessment. However, this battle is far from over. The one thing that Martinez has a significant advantage over Gebbia in is his natural running ability as a true dual-threat QB. If Martinez gets 100% healthy over the summer and continues to learn the playbook he is more of a factor than he is currently given credit for.
>>On Tuesday, 4-star LB Nick Henrich from Omaha Burke took an unofficial visit to Nebraska. I caught up with him after his visit here. Henrich made the trip with both of his parents and they all had a great time in Lincoln. One thing that did stand out to me was that he mentioned it was important for his parents to enjoy the trip to Nebraska. His parents do have Iowa ties and his dad played tennis for the Hawkeyes. Henrich has insisted all along that he would make the best decision for him despite family history.
>>One housekeeping note. None of the visits this weekend taken to Nebraska will be official visits. Some of the schools that had huge spring game weekends (Texas A&M and Oklahoma) did use some officials. Scott Frost has said he wants to save those for the regular season, plus they are still dangerously low on visits left to use from last season because it doesn’t reset until August.