Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: Huskers’ Battle with WR Numbers Rages On

March 03, 2020

"When you're taking over a 4-8 team, there's a lot of needs," Scott Frost said on signing day in February of 2018. It was his first real signing-day press conference at Nebraska, the end of a chaotic two months that saw Frost and staff win a conference title at UCF, become Nebraska's new staff, deal with the first early-signing period in college football, recruit to Lincoln while getting the Knights ready to face Auburn in the Peach Bowl, winning that Peach Bowl and then using the traditional signing date to continue addressing still-new roster needs.

Needs that were, by Frost's own admission, plentiful. Quarterback was one, and quarterback was quickly addressed. "Our depth and the numbers at receivers and defensive back were nowhere near the number that we'd like to carry," he added on that first Wednesday in February 2018.

At wide receiver, the numbers still aren't where Nebraska would like them to be. Yesterday's news that senior JD Spielman won't be with the Huskers this spring, thus  at least opening up the possibility that he won't be with the Huskers at all, underscored Nebraska's battle to get on the right side of the numbers at wide out.

That battle is still raging.

Frost and staff inherited six scholarship wide receivers from the 2017 team. At this point, just one of those six––Stanley Morgan Jr.––finished his Nebraska career under Frost. Spielman, should he return and play his senior season, would make two. The remaining four either transferred or retired from football.

Of the 10 wide receivers Nebraska signed in the 2018 and 2019 classes, six left, one (Mike Williams) completed his eligibility and the remaining three––2019 signees Wan'Dale Robinson, Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston––are basically the core of the Huskers' wide receiver group this spring until four of the five 2020 signees arrive this summer. (One of those 2020 signees, Alante Brown, is already on campus.)

For now, that leaves Nebraska with eight scholarship wide receivers on the roster. Based on 2020 scholarship distribution counts from 247 Sports, that puts the Huskers behind most of its Big Ten rivals:

TEAM WRs
Rutgers 16
Wisconsin 14
Michigan 14
Ohio State 14
Illinois 13
Purdue 13
Iowa 12
Maryland 11
Michigan State 10
Northwestern 10
Minnesota 9
Penn State 9
Nebraska 8
Indiana 7

If you're in search of a silver lining here it might be that new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick has almost a blank slate with which to work. Robinson is the only scholarship wide receiver currently on the team who has logged serious snaps. If there's a new approach to wide receiver coaching he hopes to employ, at least there's not a whole lot of old technique to unlearn.

But that blank slate comes at the cost of still not having numbers at wide receiver anywhere close to where Nebraska likely wants them to be.

The Grab Bag

  • Derek Peterson looked at the potential transfer market at wide receiver. I also took a look at what Spielman’s potential departure does to the Huskers’ returning production.
  • Greg Smith looks at the Spielman news from a recruiting perspective.
  • Nebraska men’s gymnastics got a big win over Penn State over the weekend. Photographer John Peterson was there to capture the action.
  • Jacob Padilla looks back at a bizarrely rough year for Nebraska basketball at home.

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