Nebraska is only expected to take 15-to-18 in the 2018 class, so why are the Huskers investing so much in the wide receiver position in this cycle?
To answer that question, we must first look at the last couple of recruiting classes.
In 2015, Mike Riley’s first year at Nebraska, the Huskers brought in Stanley Morgan Jr. and Lavan Alston. In 2016, they signed J.D. Spielman and Derrion Grim. Alston and Grim transferred away, Spielman redshirted and the Huskers added Keyan Williams as a transfer. That leaves just three scholarship receivers plus a potential fourth in former walk-on Bryan Reimers and Zach Darlington, who provides more value as a holder than a receiver, as your upperclassmen in 2018.
With Nebraska’s shift to a hopefully more efficient passing offense, Nebraska needed to re-stock the shelf at wide receiver and give the quarterbacks more weapons. A look at the projected scholarship distribution for the 2018 season shows that the Huskers will have as many or more receivers than any other position, but the disparity isn’t that big.
Quarterback – 3
Running Back – 4
Tight End – 6
Wide Receiver – 10
Interior Offensive Line – 9
Offensive Tackle – 5
Total – 37
Nose Tackle – 4
Defensive End – 8
Inside Linebacker – 6
Outside Linebacker – 9
Cornerback – 6
Safety – 6
Total – 39
Place Kicker – 1
Punter – 1
Long Snapper – 1
Holder – 1
Total – 4
Total Scholarship Count: 80
That doesn’t even factor in any walk-ons, and there are a handful that will make the two- and three-deep depth chart while some of the younger scholarship players adjust to college football and learn the system.
If one were to organize just the scholarship 80 into a projected depth chart, the Huskers would have pretty solid depth at almost every position, and the coaches still have a few more scholarships to use to shore up the ones where they might be a bit shallow.
Some may argue that while the Huskers do have bodies at certain positions, that doesn’t mean they have guys that are ready to play. That may be the case, but would bringing in another true freshman make any difference?
The point of this is that by going heavy at wide receiver, or giving a scholarship to a kicker, the Huskers aren’t dooming themselves to a hopelessly unbalanced roster. If Nebraska gets to the point where the 84th or 85th scholarship truly matters, something has gone horribly wrong.
The only way for Nebraska to challenge for division and conference titles is to upgrade its talent by signing the best players it possibly can. The kicker, Barret Pickering, is the No. 2-rated kicker in the entire country. Eric Fuller and Manuel Allen, the other two wide receiver commits at this point, are both 4-star prospects as well. Brown is currently rated as a 3-star recruit, but the day after he committed to Nebraska he received an offer from Alabama.
Babb and Moore are both big-time prospects as well.
Nebraska is putting together a top 10 or 15 recruiting class despite only currently having 15 spots to offer. The coaches are going to be increasingly more selective as the open spots fill up. Just sit back and let the chips fall where they may. Mike Riley (probably) knows what he’s doing.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.