You need to have a good defensive line if you want to win at a high level in college football. The top teams in the Big Ten last season were all stout up front. The Huskers have continued to chip away at reloading the defensive line under Coach Scott Frost and the players he inherited have played a lot of snaps along the line in his first two seasons at the helm. The 2020 season will be the first that we start to see the fruits of his recruiting and development.
The group is inexperienced but not short on potential. Besides projected starters Ben Stille and Damion Daniels, there are a host of unproven players vying for playing time. The number of question marks in the room present plenty of issues. It is difficult to nail down how many defensive linemen the Huskers will need to add in the 2021 cycle.
Let’s take a look a handful of names to know as the Huskers look to continue bolstering their defensive line this recruiting cycle.
DE Mandela Tobin (6-4, 270)
Tobin has seen his recruitment pick up steam in the month of May. He’s now up to seven offers but the Huskers have been showing him a lot of love. The long athlete could be viewed as a swing player on the line if he continues to add size. Nebraska was on him early which could pay off as he adds more offers. The California native would have benefitted from participating in camp season. He might stay under the radar now.
DE Tobechi Okoli (6-5, 250)
Okoli is a quick-rising prospect in the region. The defensive end has become a national level recruit with offers from coast to coast. He is raw since he hasn’t played football for very long but has tremendous athleticism. The Huskers offered early, last November while he was on campus. Okoli recently included NU in final eight schools.
I will be focusing on these schools moving forward. I am very grateful to every college and coach that has recruited me up to this point.@MizzouFootball @kstatefootball @HuskerFBNation @OU_Football @UKFootball @AuburnFootball @GeorgiaFootball @UMichFootball pic.twitter.com/7Q8T70Kn5p
— Tobechi Okoli🇳🇬 (@OkoliTobechi) May 16, 2020
Okoli is an important target because he plays a position of need. If the Huskers can land the Kansas City native, it could boost their efforts in the city.
DE Ru'Quan Buckley (6-6, 260)
Buckley is a defensive lineman that Nebraska has been most linked to publicly this cycle. He visited for Junior Day back in January. The Michigan man built a strong relationship with defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. There was a lot that stood out to him about that trip to Lincoln.
“It’s a lot of stuff, that’s a hard question,” he said. “The thing that stood out to me the most is the way Coach T [Tuioti] taught me how to get by offensive linemen. He was just cool with me like family. Like another dad.”
There was hope that a summer official visit would shut down the Michigan native’s recruitment.
DL Omarion Fa'amoe (6-2, 255)
The Utah native has quietly been a priority target for the Huskers for over a year. He made the trip to Lincoln last year for the game against Northwestern and came away impressed.
“I loved it down there,” Fa’amoe said. “The coaches and the area made me feel like I was in Utah still, just with no mountains. Lincoln, Nebraska, is a beautiful area and the people are the nicest I’ve ever met. But man, when it comes down to football they are diehards. Their facilities are nice with more renovations still to come so I’m excited to see what it’ll look like.”
@CoachTuioti92 thanks for taking care of the kid..alofa aku my Uso! Your ⭕️ should want to see you win. Your ⭕️ should clap loudly when you have good news. If not🗣GET A NEW CIRCLE. MyCircle⭕️⤵️#MLUYFI #PALA #MaluFitness #LevelUp #RestoreTheRoar #PantherNation #RosePark🌹 pic.twitter.com/DOtxICplLy
— Stuart Tua (@StuTua) October 6, 2019
Fa’amoe holds a handful of offers including Utah, LSU and Tennessee.
Other names to know include Oklahoma defensive tackle Aden Kelly, California defensive end Derek Wilkins and Utah defensive tackle Michael Mokofisi.
Right now, I project that Nebraska will add three or four defensive linemen in this class. The breakdown would be close to two defensive ends, one nose tackle and one swing type player. The wildcard for this position is what Nebraska sees from its young defensive linemen in 2020. This is another area where a lack of spring football hurts the team searching for answers at a key position.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.