Looking up at the dark Nebraska Scoreboard
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

A Completely Fake Spring Game Roster for a Competitive Spring Game

April 25, 2021

How would you want to set up the rosters for the Red and White sides ahead of Nebraska’s 2021 Spring Game?

The annual scrimmage is a week away. We’re likely to get a look at the rosters sometime during the upcoming week. The last time Nebraska had a spring game, the Red team was absolutely loaded with players who would be starters and key guys off the bench on both offense and defense. 

Perhaps that’s the way Nebraska will structure it again. Even though no one asked me this question and I have no power otherwise to influence the conversation, here’s how I would set up the exhibition. (Not every player on the roster is going to be listed.)

QBs (Red): Adrian Martinez, Heinrich Haarberg
QBs (White): Logan Smothers, Matt Masker

In 2019, true freshman Luke McCaffrey pulled double-duty in the spring game, playing for both the Red and White sides. This time around, I want to see two or three series with Martinez at the controls and then I want an all-out dual between Haarberg and Smothers. 

RBs (Red): Rahmir Johnson, Marvin Scott III, Gabe Ervin, Zach Weinmaster
RBs (White): Ronald Thompkins, Sevion Morrison, Jaquez Yant, Cooper Jewett

This may or may not be how it actually shakes out. For all we (the public) have been told, no one has really separated themselves from the pack this spring because everyone has dealt with bumps, bruises, and inconsistencies here and there. 

Understanding that coaches want to match their top-line players with each other for offensive continuity’s sake, I’d like to see the inverse happen. Give me the No. 1 running back with the No. 2 quarterback. It’ll be interesting to see what the actual rosters look like at running back in particular. 

WRs (Red): Samori Toure, Omar Manning, Oliver Martin, Jamie Nance, Baron Miles Jr.
WRs (White): Zavier Betts, Levi Falck, Will Nixon, Demariyon Houston, Wyatt Liewer

Here I do want to match like-positioned players on the depth chart with one another. With respect to the aerial attack, I’m hoping Nebraska opens things up and really takes some shots. Don’t be cagey with the vertical game after an entire summer of talking about it. 

Nebraska could obviously opt to hold its cards close to the vest because, again, I have no influence here, but it might be more beneficial to show off a more explosive passing game (if it is) after a spring during which you pointed out it was better behind closed doors. The fanbase has grown skeptical of just about everything, and while Nebraska doesn’t necessarily need to operate with that in mind, it wouldn’t hurt to show some of your new toys off. 

They did it once already with that open practice during which Manning made all of Husker Nation fall in love with him again. So maybe we get that again.(Reminder: Alante Brown had a huge brace/contraption on his left arm during that open practice, so it seems unlikely he’ll participate in the spring game.)

TEs (Red): Austin Allen, Travis Vokolek, Thomas Fidone
TEs (White): Chris Hickman, James Carnie

See: above. Passing game continuity is important. 

OL (Red): Turner Corcoran, Brant Banks, Cam Jurgens, Matt Sichterman, Bryce Benhart
OL (White): Nouri Nouili, Ethan Piper, Trent Hixson, Broc Bando, Ezra Miller

This is not meant to signal Piper is or will be the No. 2 left guard. It still feels more likely than not Piper will be the starting left guard for the Huskers, and after this past week, it sounds as if Sichterman might be the leader in the clubhouse for the other starting guard spot. 

This completely fake offensive line configuration is created with one goal in mind: figure out what the heck Brant Banks can do. Nebraska really likes the 6-foot-7 third-year lineman and the word is that line coach Greg Austin has been mixing and matching him all over the line this spring. 

Bando, a fifth-year junior, working with Piper and Hixson to solidify the interior of the second-unit line would make for a nice look and perhaps up the overall competitiveness of the game. 

DL (Red): Jordon Riley, Nash Hutmacher, Tate Wildeman, Ru’Quan Buckley
DL (White): Ty Robinson, Damion Daniels, Casey Rogers, Deontre Thomas

First-team offensive line against the first-team front seven, please. 

Again, the last spring game featured both the first-team offense and defense on the red side, so this might not happen, but in my fake mirror dimension spring game universe, I want to see strength on strength. 

ILBs (Red): Eteva Mauga-Clements, Garrett Snodgrass, Jackson Hannah, Randolph Kpai, Seth Malcom
ILBs (White): Will Honas, Chris Kolarevic, Luke Reimer, Nick Henrich

It’s unclear how much—or if—Honas will play. He’s been limited in the spring. Still, he’s probably going to play a ton in the fall if healthy, so he’s on the White team to keep up with the first-team front seven. 

OLBs (Red): Isaac Gifford, Pheldarius Payne, Damian Jackson, Blaise Gunnerson, Jimari Butler
OLBs (White): JoJo Domann, Garrett Nelson, Javin Wright, Caleb Tannor

Same deal with Domann as with Honas—it’s unclear if he’ll play in the spring game. I’d lean toward that answer being a no, but it hasn’t been directly addressed yet by the coaching staff. He has also been in load management this spring, to borrow a basketball concept. 

I’d be very interested in seeing Gifford and Wright both get an extended look in the Domann Nickel spot. Both are super athletic guys with diverse skillsets. 

DBs (Red): Braxton Clark, Nadab Joseph, Tamon Lynum, Myles Farmer, Noa Pola-Gates
DBs (White): Cam Taylor-Britt, Quinton Newsome, Deontai Williams, Marquel Dismuke

It’s more likely the Red group here is with the White group on whatever side, with a group of walk-ons making up the other team, but this would undoubtedly be more fun. The group is competitive, so you’d get either side trying to one-up each other. 

Clark in particular is a name to watch this week. Nebraska has been holding him out of live periods throughout the spring, so he might not be full-go for the scrimmage. 

If you’re curious what the rosters looked like in 2019, you can find them here. They might be informative in guessing what the rosters will look like this year. They were released on a Wednesday in 2019, so keep tabs on Hail Varsity dot com this week. 

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