Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt ready to stiff arm Illinois defense
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Choosing Between an Elite Pass Rusher and Shutdown Cornerback

August 17, 2021

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Recruiting analyst Greg Smith recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.

As long as football is being played, there are a few things that every coach will want. No coach is ever going to turn down a superstar quarterback. Having that type of signal-caller in place makes things easier on everyone else. Lockdown cornerback and an elite pass rusher are often cited as those game-changers on defense.

If a defensive coordinator had to choose between the two, what would the choice be? For defensive coordinator Erik Chinander the choice was clear but close.

“If we know we got a lockdown guy we can bring extra rushers in pass rush situations,” Chinander said. “So, I think as you’re going out to recruit people, those are like the 1A and 1B. You got to find some these corners and then you got to find somebody that can go rush the passer.”

Things are different in the NFL because it’s a bit of a different game. The quarterbacks are not running the football. They aren’t constantly taking running backs out to put five out all the time in the passing game so those pass rushers and those corners really get to affect the game a lot. They do at the college level too though.

Chinander believes when you have a great corner you don’t worry about him. You can double somebody else on third down or can send extra rushers. The scheme is totally opened up if you have a lockdown cornerback.

“In the college game, if you have a war daddy off the edge to that changes things a little bit too,” Chinander said. “You can dictate protections and those types of things a little bit so I think those are kind of 1A and 1B. Probably a lockdown corner is 1A and a pass rusher is 1B.”

How has Nebraska done with getting that elite pass rusher or lockdown cornerback into the program? We should acknowledge something up front. The Huskers aren’t in position to land 5-stars at either position at the moment. Chase Young and Jeff Okudah were both in Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class. It’s tough for Nebraska to have that type of success on the trail. It has to be done another way.

The Huskers are a developmental program, which means they have to find a way to scout well and develop players. There are several examples of teams that excel in those areas just in this conference. Michigan State was the blueprint for this on defense under Mark Dantonio. Iowa has done this consistently under Kirk Ferentz. The hope for Nebraska developing a player into elite status is Cam Taylor-Britt. He’s yet to fully achieve that status yet but has the potential this season.

Pass rusher has been a riddle that Nebraska hasn’t been able to solve for years. The team keeps signing outside linebackers they hope can become hybrid players. It just hasn’t all come together for that position in a long time. Unless someone steps forward this season we could see Nebraska rely on the scheme to get pressure. That would easier to do if Taylor-Britt becomes a steady lockdown corner for the team.

Recruit Watch

>> Check out this short film on Nebraska 2023 quarterback target Reese Mooney.


>> I provided a check-in on where Nebraska stands with its June official visitors (Premium) heading into the 2021 season.

>> In this week’s Straight Up Breakdown podcast, I am joined by CBS Omaha sports director Adam Krueger to discuss a different vibe in fall camp for Nebraska.

>> Noa Pola-Gates is looking to make his mark (Premium) at Nebraska in his third year on campus according to Jacob Padilla.

>> Nebraska’s return game is continuing to take shape (Premium) under Mike Dawson ahead of the 2021 season.

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