Nebraska Football Linebackers JoJo Domann and Garrett Nelson Celebrate
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Recruiting: Versatility a Must-Have in Joining Huskers’ Defense

January 02, 2022

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 have 14 players currently in the 2022 recruiting class. We will see if that number grows on the traditional signing day. Eight of the 14 players signed last month are slated to play on the defensive side of the football. As you start looking through that list of players you will notice a pattern. They are all versatile players.

There may not be a single player coming to Nebraska’s defense this cycle that has a future position 100% locked in. That’s not a coincidence. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander explained it on signing day.

“I think the way that offense is played anymore, you’ve got to be pretty flexible,” Chinander said. “That position that JoJo [Domann] played last year. Who’s the next JoJo? I don’t know if there is another one. But whoever is going to play in that role, we’ve got to find out what can they do best. Whoever is going to play in those safety roles what can they do best? I think you would be a little bit remiss if you had five defensive backs you felt great about. If somebody goes down to not be able to get that fifth guy on the field and have to play maybe your eighth best guy who was at safety? I think that’s a little bit little crazy.”

The Huskers are looking for that flexibility to play the players where they are needed. That not only gets the best 11 players on the field, it also helps get reserves on the field so they can get valuable playing time. This is where having an incoming player like Jaeden Gould is valuable. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher likes to cross-train his players. It also offers Gould a quicker path to playing time. Defensive lineman Brodie Tagaloa might find away to contribute earlier in his career than anticipated. He could play anywhere along the Huskers’ defensive front. That will help him as he learns and builds his body.

How long that process takes to sort out a position varies.

“We recruit them where we recruit them and the position you see on paper is where they’re going to start,” Chinander said. “As we get through there if we think ‘man, this guy’s done a really good job’ and there’s a hole in the team somewhere else, we could potentially move that guy there. With the chance of him getting more playing time and contributing earlier, but usually that’s going to take a while. Unless there’s a rash of injuries that’s going to take through camp or spring ball if they come early.”

Nebraska could have players in this recruiting class that have a position change after arriving in Lincoln. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either. It could be a compliment to the player that the team wants to see him in a different role to help the team. Nebraska is well positioned with the makeup of this class to configure the puzzle pieces how it wants moving into the future.

Recruit Watch

>> Missouri class of 2023 wide receiver Josh Manning posted his junior highlights.

>> Massachusetts 2024 quarterback Dante Reno has collected some nice offers so far. We’ll see where he lands on the board with Mark Whipple in town.

ICYMI

>> The Huskers added an offensive line transfer on Sunday when Hunter Anthony announced his commitment. I caught up with him (Premium) to find out why he picked the Huskers.

>> As Steve Marik writes, here’s why the hire of Mark Whipple should excite Nebraska’s tight end room.

>> Take a look through the best Nebraska basketball photos of 2021. We also have galleries for volleyball and football.

>> The Huskers are set to host the Buckeyes in a return to action from Christmas break.

>> The Patriots and Warriors celebrated New Year’s Eve with Metro Holiday Tournament championships.

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