Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Team Effort Has Huskers’ 2023 D-Line Class in a Good Spot

July 20, 2022

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Hail Varsity recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.

Wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph has earned plenty of column inches for his work to this point in the 2023 recruiting class, and rightfully so. He’s already elevated the quality of commit (based on the average 247 Composite rating) in this class over the group of receivers signed between in the 2019 through 2022 classes. His connections in Louisiana have helped open doors at other positions, too.

So far, Joseph has been as good as advertised, but let’s look elsewhere for a moment as the Huskers appear to be succeeding at a spot where such success wasn’t a guarantee—defensive line.

Nebraska’s 2023 d-line class ranks fifth in the Big Ten with an average 247 Composite rating of 0.8816. That trails (in order) Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan at this stage, all of which have at least two defensive line commits. That’s not an uncommon spot for the Huskers. Nebraska tends to be the fourth- or fifth-best recruiter in the Big Ten, trailing the heavyweights in the East. That’s usually true across all positions.

The difference this year with the defensive line? The rating. The 0.8816 average mentioned above only includes the three players listed at 247 as defensive linemen, but Argyle, Texas, commit Riley Van Poppel (0.8994), listed as an offensive lineman, is slated for the d-line. Include him and the Huskers’ average rating improves by 5%.

Four-star defensive lineman Cameron Lenhardt could be the next prospect to pick Nebraska. With his 0.9103 rating, Lenhardt would be the Huskers’ highest-rated d-line commit in the class and bump Nebraska’s average position rating to 0.8909.

That’s not enough to overtake Michigan for fourth in the conference, but not bad given the Huskers lost their d-line coach, Tony Tuioti, to Oregon last winter. Maybe more impressive, Nebraska’s work at this position represents a big team effort.

Defensive fronts coach Mike Dawson and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander have combined efforts to put the Huskers near the top of the list for Lenhardt, and it was Dawson and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud taking the lead on local legacy commit, Maverick Noonan. Running backs coach Bryan Applewhite was the lead recruiter on the two Texas commits—working with Ruud for Dylan Rogers and Dawson for Van Poppel—and helped land Ashley Williams with Joseph serving as lead recruiter.

None of this even factors in what Nebraska did in the transfer portal to reshape its defensive front for this season, adding Ochaun Mathis (TCU), Stephon Wynn Jr. (Alabama) and Devin Drew (Texas Tech). The Huskers needed a refresh on the line. When Tuioti left, two Huskers, Jordon Riley and Casey Rogers, eventually followed as transfers.

Nebraska shored up the spot for 2022 via the portal, but it hasn’t slowed down at the high school level with 2023 recruiting. The Huskers have added numbers, while also upping its typical talent level. Can’t ask for much more.

Recruit Watch

>> Joshua Manning, a 2023 wide receiver target, as set his commitment date. Manning was originally expected to announce his decision in early July but bumped the decision back.

>> Athlete Beni Ngoyi from Lincoln (Neb.) High School committed to Iowa State.


>> Nebraska forward Derrick Walker helped organize a basketball camp with Special Olympics Nebraska this week. “…[I]t’s very to me because it’s so special to them,” he said.

>> In this week’s Padding the Stats, Jacob Padilla touched on The Basketball Tournament coming to Omaha, the NBA Summer League and the Huskers headed to Indianapolis.

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