Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Why Tight End is Talked About so Much For 2021

August 18, 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.


Every recruiting cycle has a different flavor to it. Some start fast while others—like last season—take some time to build before taking off at the end of the cycle. Each year generally brings a new focus to the forefront too for the top position of need. Outside linebacker will remain constant for the Huskers until they can build a consistent pass rush. The Nebraska staff knows that needs to be an area of focus and their recruiting has reflected that.

There is also a position or two each cycle that we seem to talk about more than others. This year, one of those positions is tight end. It’s the perfect storm in the 2021 recruiting class for the position group to be in the spotlight. First, utilizing the tight end more has been a dream of Husker fans for years now. Nebraska has been wanting to involve the tight end more since the days of Matt Herian.

Also, the Huskers have a need for young players at the position. Travis Vokolek, Jack Stoll, Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal are all upperclassmen. Redshirt freshman Chris Hickman came into the program as a tight end but he will continue to be used more at wide receiver. The opportunity is there for young players to come into the program and contribute early.

Perhaps the biggest point to be made on why tight end is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now is who Nebraska is after. Council Bluffs, Iowa, native Thomas Fidone is already a household name among Nebraska fans. The 4-star recruit is close to 5-star status which is very rare for a player at his position. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Fidone isn’t the only local tight end target Nebraska has its sights on though. Creighton Prep 3-star AJ Rollins is another top target for the Huskers. Rollins (6-6, 220) is just starting to see his potential and has a high ceiling at the college level.

Gunnar Helm (6-5, 225), another top target, is on the other side of the border in Colorado. The Cherry Creek High School star is in the same mold as the other two. All can play as in-line blockers but also run good routes and create mismatches.

We’ll continue to talk about tight end coach Sean Beckton’s room more as the year goes on. It would help the Huskers with these recruits, plus those in the 2022 cycle, if we are also discussing the solid play of the group on the field in 2020.

Recruit Watch

>> Former Husker target Trustin Oliver has committed to Colorado.

>> The Huskers have an early offer out to 2023 defensive lineman Denzel Moore from Alabama.

>> Brenen Thompson, a 2022 Texas athlete, was putting in some work this week.

ICYMI

>> I caught up with Creighton Prep tight end AJ Rollins (Premium) and his is still a top target for the Huskers.

>> The Huskers returned to the weight room as the summer access period began.

>> In the latest Varsity Club podcast, Derek Peterson reviews how things have changed.

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