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Nebraska Recruiting: Options on the Table at Quarterback for Huskers

January 27, 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.


Things continue to evolve by the week around Husker football.

This offseason has seen Nebraska’s needs shift around quite a bit. Seniors have elected to return, which removed needs at defensive back or outside linebacker. Nebraska has seen its share of transfers this offseason too. The team has also plugged holes by taking in transfers. That most notably happened at running back with Markese Stepp and at wide receiver with Samori Touré.

This week brought the news that redshirt freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey would be entering the transfer portal in search of a new home. McCaffrey replaced starter Adrian Martinez for a couple games in 2020 but was unable to maintain the job. He entered this offseason as the clear backup and elected to leave. Now the Huskers are left with a question for Coach Scott Frost, offensive coordinator Matt Lubick and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.

What is the best way to address the quarterback situation? Does it need to be addressed at all heading into the 2021 season?

Right now Martinez is the unquestioned starter heading into winter conditioning. I would have said that before the McCaffrey transfer. There is one difference now. Redshirt freshman Logan Smothers and freshman Heinrich Haarberg are the backups to Martinez. The fourth-year starter has had the injury bug going back to high school. Just playing the odds he will end up missing some time during the 2021 season. How comfortable would Frost be turning the offense over to someone who hasn’t taken a college snap yet?

The Huskers could decide to dip into the transfer portal again. There are plenty of signal-callers looking for a new home. The big issue with that is clear. Would any quarterback who had the ability to play in the Big Ten want to join the team knowing they’d be the backup quarterback? The Huskers are unlikely to bring someone in to start a quarterback competition. It’s more likely the team would bring someone in to provide depth for 2021 and then to compete with Smothers in the 2022 season.

I could also see Nebraska taking a pair of quarterbacks in the 2022 recruiting cycle. Assume Martinez leaves after this season. The Huskers would be down to just two scholarship quarterbacks in 2022. That makes the 2022 recruiting class a prime opportunity to take two quarterbacks. You’d lose a quarterback from the room but you’d build depth and competition before that happens.

Nebraska could do both. Frost could bring someone in with one of the two remaining spots in the 2021 class as a transfer. Then the team could sign two quarterbacks for 2022. If the Huskers are comfortable with Smothers and Haarberg, the team could not bring a transfer quarterback in. The program is in the same spot it was in last season with the youth immediately behind Martinez.

Whatever Frost decides, it will surely get attention because people can’t get enough of quarterback talk.

Recruit Watch

>> Columbus 2022 outside linebacker Ernest Hausmann picked up an offer from Kansas State.

>> Rising 2022 Georgia safety Nathan Vail was offered by the Huskers on Tuesday evening.

ICYMI

>> From utility role to starter Riley Zuhn has embraced the ‘we over me’ mindset.

>> In the latest Mind Your Own podcast, Erin and Sausha cover a snow day hodge-podge of topics.

>> Jacob Padilla’s Padding the Stats takes a look at Nebraska’s troubling trend of attrition.

>> The Nebraska Preps Postgame show was delayed by a couple of days but the guys say better late than never.

>> The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions in the mailbag including a lot of transfer talk.

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