Nebraska football player jd spielman walks off field with head down
Photo Credit:

Nebraska Recruiting: Spotlight on Young WRs in Spielman’s Absence

March 02, 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.

The Huskers got a big blow to the 2020 offense when news came out that senior wide receiver JD Spielman would be stepping away from the team for the spring. It’s pretty stunning news that the team’s star wide out is taking a leave of absence. He led the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in 2019. If he returns for the 2020 season he has the chance to etch his name in the record books.

The hole in production that Spielman leaves temporarily will be difficult to replace. But, the Huskers have options at wide receiver. The issue is many joined the team in the 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes.

The 2019 group has been a mixed bag so far but flashes have shown. Wan’Dale Robinson has the look of a future star. Robinson was second on the team in 2019 in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was also third on the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Chris Hickman has shown promise in his hybrid receiver/tight end role. He redshirted in 2019 as expected but was able to get on the field some. Spielman’s absence could lead to Hickman’s move to wide receiver being more permanent, especially with the chatter about Travis Vokolek’s potential to go alongside Austin Allen and Jack Stoll. Here’s another wrinkle to consider: Hickman’s hybrid usage this spring could make for a strong example of what 4-star tight end Thomas Fidone’s usage could be at Nebraska.

We didn’t get to see Demariyon Houston or Jaime Nance last season. Another year of strength and conditioning and more knowledge of the scheme will help them both. It will also be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick sees their skill sets and puts them to use. The pair will get an extensive look this spring to show what they can do. Darien Chase was in that class. Yet he recently announced that he would be transferring from Nebraska.

There is no on-field evidence for the 2020 class of receivers yet. Still, Nebraska brought five receivers into the fold that all signed in December. Four of Nebraska’s five signees are four-star prospects. Zavier Betts and Omar Manning lead the way for the group. Marcus Fleming gives Nebraska a true burner. Alante Brown and Will Nixon are the type of Duck-R players that Coach Scott Frost is used to having in his offense. Brown now has a significant advantage by being on campus early and working out with the team. Having also spent a year in prep school, Brown will almost certainly be counted on to play in 2020.

We could end up seeing a few of these guys make an impact on the offense in 2020. There are snaps to be had a wide receiver for Nebraska with the absence of Spielman.

The class of 2021 does not have a wide receiver in the fold yet. Nebraska is after several wide outs for the class and will like take at least three in the class. Keagan Johnson, Jaylin Noel, Jace Williams and Brody Brecht are a few top targets. Each visited Lincoln in January for Junior Day. Johnson has his official visit locked in for June 12. More visits will happen and more targets will rise up as the cycle goes on.

There isn’t a big scholarship distribution effect if Spielman doesn’t return to the team since he is a senior. Nebraska would have gotten his scholarship back for 2021 either way. The bigger, more immediate impact is trying to replace his production. It is worth wondering if the Huskers will look to the transfer portal to help ease this issue. Nebraska has two spots available should they elect to use them.

The Huskers have brought in many wide receivers over the last two recruiting cycles. Now their development clocks will need to be sped up to help the team win in 2020. Whether a couple of the young receivers can answer the call suddenly became a much bigger key to the season.

Recruit Watch

>> Roncali Catholic lineman Nolan Gorczyca received an offer from Northern Illinois over the weekend.

>> Georgia wide receiver Chauncey Magwood trimmed his list some and the Huskers made the cut.

>> Priority outside linebacker target TJ Bollers was at Wisconsin this weekend and had another great trip.


>> Derek Peterson took a look at Nebraska’s defensive line and what it lost in his weekly column.

>> Brandon Vogel took another look at the numbers and found that without Spielman, Nebraska’s offense will be less trendy.

>> Free-throws proved costly in the Huskers overtime loss to Northwestern.

>> Nebraska baseball was able to avoid the sweep versus Arizona State when the bats came alive.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Pinnacle Bank 600 x 300 Ad 2 2022

Hail Varsity March 2023 Cover

Never Miss Another Issue