The wait was longer than expected, but it seems wideout Omar Manning is close to his Husker debut.
In his last scheduled availability with local media before Saturday’s game against Northwestern (2-0), Husker head coach Scott Frost said Manning is “ready to play.”
He was asked about the full class of 2020 wide receivers—Nebraska (0-1) signed five, Manning and four freshmen—and said they’re all coming along.
“Those guys are close,” Frost said. “I think the young receivers are coming along. I think Coach (Matt) Lubick’s doing a good job bringing them along. For a bunch of different reasons, I think they all got set back a little bit, whether it was a virus or an injury or an absence, but they’re getting close.”
Among the freshmen, Nebraska won’t have Will Nixon this season after an injury suffered back in the spring. That leaves Zavier Betts, Marcus Fleming, and Alante Brown to find roles.
“I think we’ll have a role for some of those guys hopefully this week or soon after,” Frost said.
Brown and Fleming played in the Huskers’ first game against Ohio State, and Brown caught a pass for 16 yards. Betts traveled with the team but didn’t see the field. Manning stayed home.
Listed at t 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Manning has a frame no other Husker receiver really has. Frost said he looked like a Sunday guy when he first showed up on campus. At the junior college level in 2019, he caught 35 balls for 727 yards (20.7 yards a catch) and six touchdowns. Manning joined the Huskers this summer as the top-rated JUCO wideout in the class of 2020.
High hopes, yes, but he seems now in a mix of guys trying to play catch-up a little bit.
“For all those young guys, it’s just a matter of being here, being here consistently to learn,” Frost said when asked specifically what Manning had shown in practice. “Like I said, though kinda sometimes not their fault, they just haven’t been able to get the reps and get the experience. When those guys are around—we recruited them for a reason—they’re talented, they just need to keep learning and keep getting more consistent.”
Other news and notes
>> Nebraska is expecting to have inside linebacker Luke Reimer for this weekend’s game against the Wildcats. Reimer was put on scholarship before the season after another strong training camp. The local Lincoln kid played in 10 games as a true freshman after impressing position coach Barrett Ruud right away.
“Luke Reimer’s a guy I’ve been impressed with since he first stepped on campus,” Frost said. “He had a little bit of an ankle (injury). Expect him to be fine Saturday and ready to go.”
That’ll help Nebraska’s rotation at inside linebacker. Seniors Will Honas and Collin Miller saw the lion’s share of the snaps at the two spots in the first game against the Buckeyes. Nebraska has Eteva Mauga-Clements at the spot as well, but Reimer has been called one of the best athletes on the entire team.
“It helps (getting him back),” Frost said. “That’s one spot where we don’t have a ton of depth, so we have to stay healthy. It’ll be nice to rotate those guys and have several good players that can go in.”
>> Tight end Jack Stoll was injured in the opener. When asked if they expected to have him available again this season, Frost simply said, “Absolutely.”
>> Frost liked the way the Huskers played at the line of scrimmage in their first game. Facing a team that has already run it 113 times in two games, controlling the trenches figures to once again be a key emphasis in the upcoming game with Northwestern.
“I thought we played solid on both lines, even though the score wasn’t what we wanted,” Frost said. “I felt like we held our own, sometimes won, sometimes didn’t. That was a good athletic team we played and I was impressed with how we played on both lines. Thought it was a major step forward for us, especially after getting pushed around by Ohio State the year before. I was really impressed with some of the young guys that came in and looked like they belonged.”
The key this week, not just at the line of scrimmage but all over the field, will be limiting the mistakes that hurt Nebraska two weeks ago. As has been said all week and was said again Thursday, Northwestern doesn’t take itself out of games, so Nebraska has to play smart, disciplined, and fundamental football to leave Evanston with a win.