Projecting needs for each recruiting class can be an interesting exercise. Many factors go into which position groups are the most important in a given cycle. For 2020, linebackers and wide receivers were at the top of the needs list. The Huskers hit the mark at each position, infusing new talent into the positions.
As we turn attention to 2021, will a new set of needs emerge? Given the number of wide receivers who have come into the program over the last two cycles, it’s safe to say that won’t be a huge focus this year. Nebraska will likely instead focus on landing a pair of key targets.
Let’s take a look at what a few needs are currently.
Hybrid outside linebackers have been at a premium since Nebraska made the move to the 3-4 defense. The Huskers have had a steady stream of talent come into the room under Coach Scott Frost but more reinforcements are needed off the edge. The position is critical to elevating defensive coordinator Erik Chinander’s defense. We could almost always include this position on a top needs list. Stockpiling disruptive players off the edge would be beneficial to Nebraska’s long-term outlook, as well as the development of the players already on campus. Iowa native TJ Bollers and St. Louis hybrid Travion Ford headline the group of targets currently, but Nebraska needs to continue searching for more answers to its pass rush woes.
High school defensive ends will be a big priority for this cycle. The Huskers were off to a hot start with one commit before Florida native RJ Sorensen left the class. Five ends have come to the team since the 2018 recruiting class. It’s not easy to judge this group based on production because none have seen significant snaps at Nebraska yet and have seen no game action in most cases. Nebraska has one redshirt freshman, two redshirt sophomores, two redshirt juniors and a redshirt senior at defensive end going into the 2020 season. That doesn’t count Ty Robinson who played defensive tackle last season. I'm also not counting junior college transfer Jordon Riley who could play either spot. The good news for the Huskers is that the team has hosted some top targets at the position already. Ru’Quan Buckley, Ryan Keeler and Tobechi Okoli were all in Lincoln for Junior Day in January.
I’m cheating here because there is a tie for the final need. The reason I’ve listed both positions is specific. Nebraska needs to sign an elite tight end prospect and a lockdown pure cornerback in this class. The tight end is needed from a scholarship distribution standpoint. Bringing in a player for tight ends coach Sean Beckton to work with this cycle should ensure he is ready to go in a season or two. Good thing the Huskers have a target in mind with Thomas Fidone fitting the bill perfectly.
At this point, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has earned the benefit of the doubt. We know he will bring talent into his room. Yet for all the versatility he has brought to the team there hasn’t been a true lockdown cornerback yet. Omaha Westside’s Avante Dickerson would fill that void, as would many other targets that Fisher has his eye on. A pure corner would make a great addition to group Fisher is building in Lincoln.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.