It is rarely a good idea to get too far ahead of yourself with college football. What looks like enviable depth today can be a major weakness tomorrow with just an injury and a defection or two.
That said, when 4-star cornerback Mario Goodrich verbally committed on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but think a little bit about next spring and fall. What a competition in the secondary it has the potential to be.
Nebraska should graduate four seniors in the secondary after this season: Joshua Kalu, Chris Jones, Boaz Joseph and Kieron Williams. While things could certainly shift, here’s a portion of the potential candidate pool as it stands today:
Elijah Blades (6-2, 170): The Huskers’ lone defensive back in the 2017 class, Blades is a 4-star who is expected to challenge for playing time sooner rather than later.
DiCaprio Bootle (5-10, 180): The speedster from Florida was almost good enough in fall camp a year ago for the Huskers to play him as a true freshman.
Tony Butler (6-2, 215): A safety, Butler was in much the same boat as Bootle last August. Nebraska could’ve played him as a true freshman on special teams, but was able to preserve his redshirt. He’ll get some snaps this season behind a veteran group of safeties.
Marquel Dismuke (6-2, 195): A 4-star recruit and thought of as one of the highlights in the 2016 class, Dismuke will get a chance to crack the rotation at safety this year.
JoJo Domann (6-1, 200): Was on his way to perhaps locking down Nathan Gerry’s old job before a spring injury cost him the 2017 season. If he returns to form, the staff clearly likes what he brings.
Lamar Jackson (6-3, 210): A 4-star recruit. The coaches feel good enough about Jackson’s potential that they were willing to give Kalu a look at safety to see if they could get Kalu, Jones and Jackson on the field at the same time in 2017. Tough to argue with his size.
Eric Lee Jr. (6-0, 200): Another 4-star recruit. Lee looked to be making a move this spring at nickel back.
Antonio Reed (6-2, 220): This will be an interesting season for Reed. He has an enticing blend of size and athleticism, and now he should get the chance for a bunch of experience in 2017. He could be one of two seniors in the secondary in 2018.
Aaron Williams (5-11, 190): The relative stalwart of this group. Williams has played in all 26 games since arriving in campus, starting 11 at safety in 2016.
Radley-Hiles, perhaps Nebraska’s third-best recruiter in this class behind Donte and Keith Williams, tweeted this yesterday:
He’s clearly expecting someone else to join the fold. If it is who we think it is you could potentially add another 4-star to the mix.
Again, a lot can change before next spring rolls around, but Nebraska has a group that could have elite potential. As we saw in 2009, if you can pair that with an elite defensive line, almost nothing is off the table for a defense like that. The Huskers have some work to do on the latter front, but don’t underestimate how much a very good secondary can help even a good defensive line.
The BCS is Back
You may not care much about the Sun Belt, but it happens to be my favorite Group of 5 conference. So much so that I’ve thought about trying to go to Sun Belt media days just to get some Arkansas State stories, talk to Joe Moglia and generally immerse myself in the conference. (That the event is in New Orleans doesn’t hurt.)
Anyway, Sun Belt news always gets my attention and the 10-team conference, utilizing the Big 12 loophole, is going to split into divisions and hold a conference-title game in 2018. But what’s interesting about that is how the Sun Belt will break ties (emphasis mine):
The division winners will meet in the championship game, which will be played at the home stadium of the team with the best College Football Playoff ranking. If no teams are ranked in the CFP selection committee, the conference will determine home field using a formula based on six computer ratings that were used in the old Bowl Championship Series standings.
Yes, that’s right. Get out the can of compressed air Sagarin, Anderson/Hester, Billingsley, Colley, Massey and Wolfe. Fire up the computers! You’re back and could directly impact the outcome of a college football season.
The Grab Bag
- Provided the rain doesn’t get in the way, Nebraska will kick off Big Ten tournament play today at 4 p.m. (CT).
- Bill Reiter of CBSSports.com writes that Baylor should end its football program.
- Huskers wide receiver target Joshua Moore tweeted that he ran a 4.38 40 yesterday. Not bad, not bad at all.
- A Michigan attorney confirms that three Michigan State football players violated university policy as part of the school’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.