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Nebraska Recruiting: What is the Biggest Position Need For 2021?

May 20, 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.


Needs for a recruiting class shift from cycle to cycle. That's expected because a college football team’s talent ebbs and flows. As players graduate, leave for the NFL or transfer out of your program it changes your needs. The only real constant is that as a program you will always need to get more talent. 

Nebraska’s needs for 2021 make for an interesting discussion. This cycle is important because it’s about finishing off the overhaul of the roster. After this recruiting class.  Coach Scott Frost and his staff should feel good about where they are with numbers across the board. 

We received a good question as a submission for the mailbag this week but since I’ve been asked this a few times, I thought we should bring it here.

Right now, there are a few positions that are in the running for the biggest need for the 2021 recruiting class. Wide receiver, tight end, defensive line and linebacker all have strong claims to get the nod. Wide receiver probably can’t be the pick considering the team signed five wideouts in the 2020 cycle. The Huskers still might take three in this cycle but it is just not the glaring need that it was a season ago. 

John Peterson/Hail Varsity
4-star tight end Thomas Fidone in Memorial Stadium.

Tight end makes for an interesting pick. Nebraska will lose Jack Stoll after this season. Austin Allen, Travis Vokolek and Kurt Rafdal will leave after the 2021 season. That means this is the time to strike and add two tight ends. That way Nebraska should not experience as much drop off when transitioning past the upperclassmen on the roster. Sean Beckton’s position group gets extra points because of who the Huskers’ No. 1 target is for this cycle. It’s impossible to think about tight end for Nebraska in this cycle without mentioning Council Bluffs 4-star Thomas Fidone. It’s the perfect time for Nebraska to pursue him and early playing time can be part of the pitch. 

Linebacker is clearly a focus for Nebraska this cycle. There are three already in the 2021 recruiting class and the Huskers are likely looking to add two more. The team has made steady progress on overhauling the position. It's critical to success running the 3-4 defense. Steady linebacker play is also a staple of this conference. It is tough to win consistently without good play from the position. Outside linebacker is always a focus as the Huskers look to fix their pass rush woes. There are several young linebackers in the program with potential who will be battling for playing time in the years to come. 

Defensive line is a complete wildcard for this cycle. I think the Huskers need to sign at least two defensive ends this class and another nose tackle. Yet, since there are so many questions marks on who will step up at in that unit this season, it can impact how much of a need it is. If the young linemen who seem poised to take the next step do so, the team only needs two linemen this cycle. If there is unexpected attrition and the group struggles, the number could bump up. 

In the end, my answer for the biggest need in the 2021 recruiting cycle is tight end. Of the positions listed tight end has the least number of young players that you could see becoming stars in Lincoln. That's especially true if Chris Hickman stays at wide receiver. That all changes if the Huskers land Fidone and one more high-upside prospect. It is rare that we talk about tight ends like we do outside linebackers and quarterbacks. Yet for 2021 tight end the biggest need.

Recruit Watch

>> Defensive line target Mandela Tobin posted a cool edit that the Huskers did for him. 

>> Running back target from Alabama Deshun Murrell picked up an offer from UCLA on Tuesday evening. 

>> Nebraska became one of the early offers for 2023 running back Sergio Snider on Wednesday. 

>> Huskers offensive line commit Henry Lutovsky is getting back in the swing of things on the squat rack. 

ICYMI

>> The Huskers released a hype video that will surely have you missing football. 

>> It’s time for No. 4 on Derek Peterson’s Most Intriguing Huskers list. The spot belongs (Premium) to linebacker Collin Miller.

>> In this week’s Padding The Stats Jacob Padilla gives his last word on ‘The Last Dance.’

>> The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions in the mailbag including the impact the return or permanent departure of JD Spielman will have. 

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Tags: 2020

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