Mike Dawson
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Nebraska Recruiting: Questions Surround OLB for Huskers

June 09, 2020

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.

Matt Lubick is on the short list nationally for most important assistant hires. Yet, if you ask me, I’d make the argument that outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson has an important role too. Dawson—who returns to Nebraska after a stint in the NFL coaching with the New York Giants—is in charge of a group that has been a focus and a sore spot for Nebraska fans. It's been that way since converting to the 3-4 defense before the 2017 season. 

The group is not without talent. JoJo Domann is a good playmaker. Everyone is excited to see what Garrett Nelson can bring to the table in his sophomore season. Caleb Tannor is already a junior but he can take a big leap. David Alston and Jamin Graham have been working behind the scenes for their chance.

As Dawson explained in March, the group is excited about the work ahead.  

“They’re very eager, a bunch of guys that want to get better,” Dawson said. “I think they probably read the Internet as well as anyone and they don’t want to be the group that gets singled out — hey, we’ve got to get better at pass rush, we’ve got to do a better job of setting the edge. I think they know and understand that and they’re eager to get that done. We have a lot of work to do, there’s a lot of work ahead of us. 

“I think any time after a season you work your self-scout and you kind of go back and see what you did well and see what you didn’t do well and try to improve it. Whether it was Jovan [Dewitt] sitting here or me sitting here, I think that it would probably be a similar type of story — we need to get better at doing what we’re doing and these guys are eager to get that done.” 

There are also plenty of new faces that will push for snaps too. Newcomers Blaise Gunnerson, Jimari Butler and Niko Cooper are set to enter the mix as well for the Huskers. The team must find a way to improve their ability to get after the passer to improve as a defense. In the two seasons under Coach Scott Frost, the Huskers have ranked sixth (25 sacks) in 2018 and eighth (27 sacks) in the Big Ten. It’s not all about sacks though. Getting additional pressure to help out the secondary is needed too. 

The team is also keeping a focus on the need for outside linebackers through recruiting. Miami native Patrick Payton is a good prospect and is the lone outside linebacker committed right now. Look for the Huskers to take at least one more player this cycle to add to Dawson’s mix. 

Long-term the improvement of this group will have a big say in the ceiling for Nebraska. Dawson’s return will be watched closely for his on-field development but also for his ability on the recruiting trail.

Recruit Watch

>> New Jersey linebacker Mikai Gbayor included Nebraska in his top five on Monday night. 


>> Texas is now at the table trying to land Iowa tight end Thomas Fidone. 

>> Georgia lineman Bryson Estes committed to Florida State on Tuesday. Estes is former teammates with new Husker Marquis Black.

>> Omaha Roncali lineman Nolan Gorczyca announced his commitment to Buffalo on Tuesday.


>> Jacob Padilla focused on offensive line coach Greg Austin’s new role in a story that hit the Yearbook cutting room floor.

>> Derek Peterson spoke with Amy Williams about how Nebraska women’s basketball is managing the return to campus. 

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