Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Huskers Could Make Recruiting Gains if 2022 Defense Doesn’t Miss a Beat

August 16, 2022

“I like our team right now a lot,” defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said on Tuesday. “Not even from the players’ ability. I just like our team. The way guys work, the way guys compete. The way they understand this is a business.”

Maybe that’s just fall camp chatter, maybe it’s real. Not knowing which it is at this point, it caught me by surprise. The Huskers have some key pieces to replace, so it would be fair to expect Nebraska’s defense to experience some slight growing pains in 2022. JoJo Domann, Ben Stille, Marquel Dismuke, Damion Daniels and Deontai Thomas all must be replaced.

That’s not a complete list of all the holes the Blackshirts have to fill, and that’s on purpose. The common thread among those just mentioned is they were all inherited by Nebraska’s coaching staff. They became fixtures of the Husker defense over the past four seasons, and now they’re being replaced by players this coaching staff recruited for those roles.

If it goes well, it could be a big deal for Nebraska recruiting.

Based on Chinander’s Tuesday comments, you need three players to potentially fill Domann’s role. Isaac Gifford, Chris Kolarevic and Javin Wright were locked in a too-close-to-call competition for the top spot. All three were recruited by this staff.

In the secondary, cornerback Quinton Newsome and safety Myles Farmer are the surest bets to start, though there’s plenty of competition throughout the group. Newsome and Farmer, plus whoever else occupies the other spots, will have been hand selected by defensive backs coach Travis Fisher.

On the defensive line, Ty Robinson is the one known the Huskers have returning in 2022. He was one of Nebraska’s biggest recruiting wins in the 2019 class. The other spots up front will either be filled by transfers or players that signed with Scott Forst and Co.

Linebacker was the one spot where this staff’s impact was already apparent. Luke Reimer, Nick Henrich, Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor already represented a really strong unit a year ago. This year, the corps should be even better, plus it has Ochaun Mathis in the mix, a proven player at TCU. Anything he adds is bonus points.

The Blackshirts have been steadily progressing each season under Chinander. That’s good. Even if some key roles were filled by players this staff didn’t recruit, you still have to reach them, still have to coach them.

But there might be something extra to be gained if this defense maintains the levels it reached last season while being less experienced, while being entirely of this staff’s own making. Nebraska has had three defensive players drafted since Frost’s arrival ahead of the 2018 season. One of those players, Cam Taylor-Britt, was recruited by the current staff.

That’s not a slight–as mentioned, Nebraska’s defense has been getting better year to year–but if that progress continues the Huskers have an advantage they haven’t had yet. They can say we built this from scratch. They can say we identified those players, recruited those players, developed those players.

The 2022 defense presents some challenges––inexperience is always a hurdle––but it offers some upside if the Huskers get it right.

ICYMI

>>Special teams coordinator Bill Busch knows who his starters are, but he’s not sharing just yet.

>>Catch all of our videos from post-practice on Tuesday.

>>I’m back writing way too much about uniforms again.

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