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Nebraska Recruiting: Recent Wide Receiver History Factor in 2020 Situation

December 03, 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.


Several things have been a challenge for Nebraska during the 2020 season. It was expected for the football season to have bumps and bruises along the way. That’s how this year has gone in general. The Nebraska passing game has struggled mightily so far this year. The team has two touchdown passes on the season. You’d never expect that in a Scott Frost offense, especially considering the team is completing 65% of passes on the year.

The coaching staff and each position group on offense share in the blame for how things have gone. Instead of assigning blame though, I want to take a look at how we got here. Based on Nebraska’s recruiting at wide receiver specifically, it should not be like this. Keeping wide receivers in the program and developing them has been a problem for years.

Here is who Nebraska signed to play wide receiver since 2016.

2016

  • Derrion Grim
  • JD Spielman

2017

  • Keyshawn Johnson Jr.
  • Tyjon Lindsey
  • Jaevon McQuitty

2018

  • Andre Hunt
  • Miles Jones
  • Dominick Watt
  • Mike Williams
  • Jaron Woodyard

2019

  • Darien Chase
  • Chris Hickman (converted tight end)
  • Demariyon Houston
  • Jamie Nance
  • Kanawai Noa (graduate transfer)
  • Wan’Dale Robinson

2020

  • Zavier Betts
  • Alante Brown
  • Marcus Fleming
  • Omar Manning
  • Will Nixon

Let’s break this into two different sections. The 2016–18 group should be the veteran receivers leading the way for Nebraska currently. Of the 10 wideouts signed in that time period there is just one player Nebraska got production from, JD Spielman. He transferred to TCU before he could rewrite the receiver history books at Nebraska. The other nine players over that span caught a total of 40 passes at Nebraska. Of that group only Mike Williams finished his career at Nebraska.

There is still time with the 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes. So making any sweeping judgements would be unfair. Though it is fair to say things are a mixed bag. Wan’Dale Robinson is a hit. Kanawai Noa started 10 games and produced some for Nebraska. The early returns on Zavier Betts are good and he needs to be involved more. Chris Hickman has a role on Saturdays as he gets used in a hybrid position. Alante Brown has shown promise and Will Nixon is rehabbing from injury.

Darien Chase and Marcus Fleming are gone from Nebraska. Demariyon Houston, Jamie Nance and Omar Manning are mysteries at this point. The team has tried to help the depth issues by developing walk-ons and transfers. Wyatt Liewer, Kade Warner and Levi Falck have all carved out roles on the 2020 team.

It’s important to explain how the Huskers got to this point at wide receiver. It starts back in the 2016 recruiting class. There is a lot of focus on recruiting more players that can be productive than not for your team. For the Huskers at wide receiver, that journey begins at being able to develop receivers in the same system for the duration of their careers.

Recruit Watch

>> Husker linebacker commit Mikai Gbayor picked up a big honor on Thursday when he was named All-State.

>> One-time 2021 linebacker target Naquan Brown backed off his pledge to LSU.

>> Nebraska wide receiver target Titus Mokiao-Atimalala will be signing in Februrary. He’s also releasing a top six shortly.

ICYMI

>> Cam Jurgens has work to be done but many believe his future is bright at center writes Derek Peterson.

>> I looked into what Purdue is saying this week and the team finds itself in a familiar territory for Husker fans.

>> The Huskers have their ‘fingers crossed’ Dedrick Mills will be available this weekend.

>> Let Brandon Vogel get you ready for the game this weekend in a matchup of grit v. strain on the latest I-80 Preview podcast.

>> Amy Williams has her frontcourt largely settled but she updated the status of the Huskers’ backcourt in a radio appearance.

>> Tom’s Time is back to revisit the time when the Huskers earned a shot at the 1993 title thanks to 13 seconds against Oklahoma.

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