Nebraska Football Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander Claps on Sidelines
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Exploring the Huskers’ Remaining Defensive 2021 Needs

August 19, 2020

Nebraska is busy building the 2021 recruiting class. Defensive back Malik Williams‍ was the most recent commitment on July 21. That brought the Huskers’ total to 14 commitments. Coach Scott Frost has publicly stated that he thinks this class could be a smaller one. Nebraska could end up taking 18-22 prospects this cycle. If that holds, there aren’t many spots left in the class.

Earlier in the week we took a look at the remaining needs on offense. Let’s take a look at what Nebraska’s remaining needs are on the defensive side of the football and who could fill them.

Defensive Line

The defensive line is where the Huskers have the most work left to do this recruiting cycle. Projecting needs at the position has been difficult. Losing spring football affected this position the most because Nebraska has so many unknown players in the group. The Huskers can’t have an accurate gauge of the talent on the team, so it’s difficult to know what to go after on the trail. Despite that, they’ll take at least a couple linemen, most likely defensive ends, this cycle. Kansas City native Tobechi Okoli and Michigan prospect Ru’Quan Buckley are at the top of the list. Derek Wilkins, Mandela Tobin and others are on the board who have high upside.

2021 need: 2

Linebacker

Reshaping the linebacker room was a major emphasis for the Nebraska staff this cycle. They’ve done a nice job of adding versatile, athletic players to the group so far. Four of Nebraska’s 14 commits are slated to play linebacker. Randolph Kpai and Seth Malcom will start out with inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud. Patrick Payton and Will Schweitzer will start out with outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson. On the surface the team might not need to add anyone else to the group, yet there is still room for one more addition at outside linebacker. The team has been focused on improving the position that had plagued the program. Alabama native Christian Burkhalter has been a preferred target. He’s set to announce his decision soon but is trending toward Oregon. No matter which school he picks, others will continue to recruit him hard. Patrick Hisatake is another name to know but seems poised to stay west.

The Huskers may need to pull off a flip or uncover new targets to fill that fifth linebacker slot.

2021 need: 1

Defensive Back

A rapid change has happened with this position group for the 2021 class. At the start of the summer it was unclear who the top targets were for defensive backs coach Travis Fisher. Now as we get closer to August the Huskers have three defensive backs in the class. It’s an intriguing mix of prospects. They could all see their recruiting profiles get larger if they get a chance to play full seasons this year. Due to the recent attrition on the team, the position has been in the spotlight a bit more than expected. Now two questions remain for Fisher. Will he land top junior college cornerback Nadab Joseph? The late 2020 addition is a tremendous athlete. He will be eleigible immediately for whichever school he chooses. Second, are the Huskers done with defensive backs this cycle? Having three prospects ‘N’ already might allow Fisher to go to work under the radar on a flip target to add to his group or he can get a jumpstart to focus on 2022.

2021 need: 0

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