The portal giveth and the portal taketh away.
Over the weekend, one of Nebraska’s biggest portal arrivals fell through and flipped his commitment to Oklahoma. The Huskers hosted former Stanford offensive lineman Walter Rouse the same weekend as former Baylor offensive lineman Micah Mazzccua. Just over a week later, neither of them are on their way to Lincoln.
Nebraska’s clearly aiming to land offensive linemen through the portal, someone who can provide depth and immediate playing time. This coaching staff secured the signing of former Arizona State center Ben Scott but struck out with Rouse, Mazzccua and former Rhode Island standout Ajani Cornelius. Coaches are likely to remain aggressive in evaluations of entries before the transfer portal closes on Wednesday. Nebraska might go after recent offensive line portal entires like Jacob Hood (Georgia), Paul Malie (Utah) and Elijah Wroten (Duke). Like head coach Matt Rhule previously said, winning the line of scrimmage is critical to winning the game. Most schools carry a similar philosophy so top-quality offensive line talent is a precious portal commodity.
Nebraska could also benefit from a veteran presence at tight end. With Travis Vokolek and Chancellor Brewington both graduating and entering the NFL Draft, Nebraska’s offense could benefit from a proven Power 5 run blocker on the edge with good hands. Former Georgia tight end Brett Seither came to Lincoln for an official visit over the weekend. He played in 20 games as a reserve tight end for the back-to-back national champions the last two seasons. Of course, the door is wide open for Thomas Fidone II to seize an opportunity. The former top-ranked tight end in the country’s first two seasons in Lincoln were riddled with injury issues or precautions.
On defense, Nebraska coaches might rush still make a rush to fill spots at the first and second levels. Recent portal entires Mekhail Sherman, a linebacker from Georgia, and Omar Speights, a linebacker from Oregon State have also been linked to Nebraska. Speights was a three-time all-conference selection with a year of eligibility left. He’s also originally from Philadelphia, where many new Nebraska staffers have connections. Sherman is a former 5-star linebacker out of St. John’s High School in Washington D.C. and played predominantly special teams for the dominant consecutive champions.
The Nebraska athletic department honored victims of Sunday morning’s tragedy in Georgia with a visual on Husker Vision. Georgia defensive tackle Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy died in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday morning in Athens, Georgia. Two additional passengers sustained minor injuries. Sources told ESPN one of those who suffered minor injuries was Georgia offensive lineman Warren McClendon.
— Matt Rhule (@CoachMattRhule) January 15, 2023
Nebraska’s pursuit of tight ends doesn’t end at the portal. The Huskers recently offered Ismael Smith Flores from Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, the school new tight end coach Bob Wager recently helmed. He’s a 3-star senior and is scheduled to take a visit to Lincoln later this month. Taylor, Texas, junior tight end Ian Flynt visited Lincoln on Friday. His father threw at Nebraska and his sister recently signed to Nebraska’s track team.
The Huskers offered multiple defensive linemen in recent days. Sua Leftou, a senior at Bellflower, California, received a late scholarship offer from the Huskers. Kellen Lindstrom (junior from Springfield, Missouri), Davion Dixon (sophomore from Miami, Florida) and Jamarion Carlton (freshman from Temple, Texas) all received offers from Nebraska since the off-campus recruiting dead period ended.
The coaching staff spread across the country once the dead period ended, starting Friday. Running backs coach E.J. Barthel visited schools in the northeast (Connecticut, New Jersey, etc.), wide receivers coach Garret McGuire courted recruits in Texas, offensive line coach Donovan Raiola and head coach Matt Rhule went to Arizona while defensive coordinator Tony White and special teams coordinator Ed Foley stayed in Nebraska. White visited schools in the greater Omaha metro area while Foley visited schools in the tri-cities, York, Seward and more.
>> The Huskers made a strong charge to topple No. 3 Ohio State but a late start put Amy Williams’ team in too deep of a deficit to pull off the win.
>> Fred Hoiberg’s team forced overtime against No. 3 Purdue when the Huskers hosted the Boilermakers earlier this season. The short-handed Huskers didn’t fare as well in West Lafeyette.
>> The University of Nebraska released contracts for four of Matt Rhule’s assistant coaches and salaries for eight members of his staff.