Nebraska Recruiting: Why Is It Hard for D-Linemen to Contribute Early?
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Why Is It Hard for D-Linemen to Contribute Early?

April 09, 2019

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.

I talk to fans every recruiting cycle about defensive line recruiting. So many people want to know if the Huskers can find guys in the trenches that can make an impact immediately up front. In 2018, Nebraska brought in Tate Wildeman and Casey Rogers to play defensive end. Neither contributed during their freshman seasons due to injuries, which is no fault of their own. 

In the 2019 class, Ty Robinson, Mosai Newsom, Brant Banks and Ethan Piper will take their shots at being able to crack the rotation as freshmen. It feels like a tall order to expect freshmen to come in and play right away on the defensive line.

So, what’s the biggest issue that defensive line coach Tony Tuioti sees for young players at the position?

“You have to be strong. That’s the toughest thing,” Tuioti explained. “The strength and the speed of the game. When you are coming from high school, you have been bigger than a lot of guys that are trying to block you. You’ll be the strongest guy on the field. You’ll be the fastest guy on the field. When you come to college you are playing against grown men. You are not playing against 15 to 17 year old kids. It’s guys that are 20, 21 and 22. Grown men. That’s the biggest challenge for a lot of young guys, especially in the trenches.”

Being able to train your body so that you can be bigger and stronger is one thing. That comes with time in the weight room with head strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval and his staff. Yet, even if a player comes in with all the physical tools in the world, the mental aspect can be a hurdle too. 

For Tuioti, he wants to know how quickly a player can learn the defense. 

“What does it mean if there are two tight ends or two backs in the backfield? What is the offense trying to do with that?” Tuioti said. “It’s a lot to handle. Plus, the tempo of the game is so fast. Before the ball is even snapped, can you gather that pre-snap information to find the answers to the test before the ball is even snapped? They just aren’t trained that way.”

If physical strength and the mental challenge of playing the game at a faster speed wasn’t enough, new players also need to get adjusted to college life. In high school, players are not used to waking up at six in the morning for training, meals, class, football meetings and academic meetings. It’s an entirely different lifestyle that they aren’t used to.

Overall, it’s a lot to throw at freshmen during that transitional period but they get used to it. It’s just not wise to expect everyone to get used to it in time to be All-Big Ten during their freshman season.

Recruit Watch

>> Ray Curry, a 3-star offensive tackle from Tennessee, included Nebraska in his top 12 on Tuesday.

>> Huskers quarterback commit Logan Smothers is still doing his part to recruit more talent to Lincoln. He sent this tweet to 4-star running back Deondre Jackson. 

>> Wyatt Wegener, the younger brother of incoming junior college lineman Josh Wegener, is coming for the spring game. Wyatt is a wide receiver. 

>> The Huskers made the cut to eight for Chris Mayo, a 4-star offensive lineman from New Jersey.


>> We’ve got a running list of expected spring game visitors on the site. (Premium)

>> Nebraska has lined up another official visitor for this weekend who could be eligible this summer. (Premium)

>> Miles Jones is ready to live up to expectations in Year 2 at Nebraska.

>> Jacob Padilla looked at Isaiah Roby’s NBA Draft stock as he mulls his big decision. (Premium)

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