Head coach Scott Frost wanted to have one or two extra scholarships available for this exact reason. On Friday, the Huskers added the services of an immediately eligible grad transfer defensive lineman who's still pretty green.
Long story short, I need to learn how to husk corn now!🌽 lol Beyond grateful to be able to play this game again and to do it for this stud of a Coach! Lets go Husker Nation🔴⚫️⚪️ #GBR pic.twitter.com/o5oiG65yrM
— Vaha Vainuku Jr. (@Vee_Stringz1) June 1, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle has taken a winding road to Lincoln, but he'll arrive with two years of eligibility remaining for Frost and the rest of the Husker coaching staff to work with. He even played a little fullback in a special package for the Utes.
According to his Utah profile, the defensive lineman can bench a team-best 460 pounds. That's a lot. He was also a 2011 Utah 4A state shot put champion.
Vainuku comes from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he originally signed in the Class of 2012. He took part in a mission trip prior to beginning his career for the Utes, picking back up in the spring semester of 2015. Vainuku redshirted in his first year, then was limited to just two games in 2016 because of an injury. He would leave the football team but still continue school at Utah on a medical hardship, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The room for Vainuku comes from the slew of departures the Huskers have seen this offseason. Including guys like quarterback Patrick O'Brien and fullback Ben Miles, a total of seven Huskers have left the program since Frost took over in December. With the most recent departure of linebacker Andrew Ward, Nebraska was down to 83 scholarship players (two below the NCAA limit).
Vainuku will likely slide into the middle of the defensive line. Sophomore Deontre Thomas confirmed to Hail Varsity on Thursday he has officially moved outside to defensive end after playing his freshman season mostly at defensive tackle. That would leave seniors Mick Stoltenberg and Peyton Newell, the Davis twins and redshirt freshman Damion Daniels in the middle.
Nebraska began summer workouts with strength coach Zach Duval last week.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.