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Nebraska Recruiting: New Top Position of Need Emerges for Huskers in 2023 Class

June 12, 2022

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.

The importance of each position group during a recruiting cycle is a moving target.

A few positions stood out as the most critical for Nebraska to address when taking a look ahead at the busy summer. It was clear that the offensive line was going to be a big focus for this cycle. The Huskers are fortunate that the local talent at the position is booming. New coach Donovan Raiola had to make new connections with those players.

The program sits with a trio of offensive line commits and each is from Nebraska. Gunnar Gottula from Lincoln Southeast High School has been in the class the longest. Creighton Prep’s Sam Sledge committed to the program back in February. Scottsbluff standout Brock Knutson committed to the program June 6 following his official visit.

There has been great progress made with recruiting the offensive line for this cycle. It’s not over yet. The Huskers have hosted a slew of top targets on the line for official visits already. Cayden Green, Bo Hughley, Amir Herring, JR Sia and Zalance Heard have all visited this summer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team land one or two more from that list.

The other big position of need for the Huskers is on the defensive line. The team has not landed a player on the defensive line this cycle. Nebraska could use two or three defensive linemen. That makes sense given how hard the program needed to look in the portal for immediate help this offseason. The first question we don’t know the answer to about defensive line recruiting is if the team is recruiting to a 3-4 or 4-3. Coach Scott Frost has said that the team has been playing more and more even front since he arrived. If that’s the case, the recruiting profile of what you look for changes. We’ll see how that plays out.

There are quality targets the Huskers are after along the defensive line. There is one player the Huskers had on campus already that could grow into being a 4-3 defensive end. Elkhorn South EDGE Maverick Noonan might be best suited to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense instead of an edge rusher. His progression could be like Garrett Nelson, starting off standing up then playing more with his hand in the dirt.

Nebraska had top target Riley Van Poppel on campus for an official visit this past weekend. Van Poppel (6-5, 270) fits as more traditional defensive end that could even play some defensive tackle in a pinch once he bulks up. Nebraska is also scheduled to have Nevada defensive end Kelze Howard (6-4, 260) on campus June 17 weekend.

There will likely be more targets to emerge along the defensive line for this cycle. New names always pop up during the season for official visits. The team can continue to see how the young linemen on the team develop. Then can bump the number needed for 2023 up or down.

As the 2023 recruiting class takes shape, defensive line will have a lot of fans’ attention moving forward. It’s not a stretch to say it’s the most important position group for the cycle now.

Recruit Watch

>> Class of 2024 Bellevue West wide receiver Dae’vonn Hall was offered by Arkansas over the weekend.

>> Lincoln High athlete Beni Ngoyi took an official visit to Iowa State.

>> Omaha North 2025 defensive lineman Tyson Terry was out at a Missouri camp.


>> A decision could be coming soon for Utah offensive lineman Jr Sia after his Nebraska official visit.

>> Reviewing the Nebraska sports year is on the docket for the latest Drake’s Takes.

>> Steve Marik takes a look at how October unfolds in the best version of Nebraska’s season.

>> The new-look Huskers began summer workouts and Jacob Padilla has the latest.

>> Nebraska tight end commit Benjamin Brahmer had a great trip to his future home this weekend.

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