My plan at the start of the week was to avoid duplicating any player who was on my "most intriguing" list at the start of the spring.
Luke Gifford changed my mind.
And who was I kidding anyway? JoJo Domann was going to be one of the players I watched most closely whether I listed him or not. Might as well own up to it.
But there are good reasons for that.
"I think JoJo, JoJo's just a football player," Gifford said in an interview with Chris Schmidt on Hail Varsity Radio on Thursday. "He's always making plays. The majority of the time that there's a big play made in practice it's usually something that that guy did. He is a heckuva player so I'm really excited to watch him this season."
Gifford's not the first one to note Domann's knack for making plays. Scott Frost mentioned it after the first day of spring football when noting that Domann, a safety at the start of his career, would be starting this season out at outside linebacker.
Sounds a lot like another former safety who, finally fully healthy, had the best season of his career in 2018.
"It's a lot different, but there's also a lot of similarities," Gifford said of the move from safety to linebacker. "A lot of times those safeties are playing similar roles when they're coming down into the box. I think JoJo has started to understand that, that really he may be playing linebacker but there's a lot of things he would've been doing playing safety. And he gets to blitz and do all of that other fun stuff. He's starting to understand the defense and toy with the way he aligns. As soon as he starts doing those things, look out because he can make a lot of plays."
All of this stuff I wrote about Domann a month ago . . .
That included 19 total tackles (10 solo) in 2018, but 17 of those tackles came over the Huskers' final four games. Domann played in the season-opener, then missed four games before slowly working his way back in against Northwestern, Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman. That set up his tour de force (so far) against Ohio State. Domann had the "sack fumble" Frost mentioned in that game. He also had seven tackles and a pass breakup to go with the sack and forced fumble. It was probably the third-best individual performance by a player in the back-seven last year behind Luke Gifford against Colorado and Antonio Reed against Michigan State. That's the Domann Husker fans are hoping to see more regularly this fall.
. . . still applies. How Nebraska split its roster for Saturday's spring game adds even a little more intrigue. There's a noticeable first string/second string divide there and Domann is included with the two other leading contenders for serious snaps at outside linebacker this season, seniors Alex Davis and Tyrin Ferguson.
It's just a spring game, of course, but I'm still interested to see how Domann fits into that rotation. How is he utilized? Saturday may not be the best way to judge that, but it will be our first opportunity to even get a sense for what 2019 might have in store.
And Domann is still one of the more versatile pieces of the puzzle. Thanks for bringing me to my senses, Luke.
The Grab Bag
- Jacob Padilla looks at the benefits Isaiah Roby could bring to Nebraska if he opts to return to Lincoln for another season. (Premium)
- Oh, and Doc Sadler resigned at Southern Miss yesterday. Sure looking like he’s set to join Nebraska’s staff.
- This is one of my favorites in the Husker Attic series.
- There’s a new No Huddle to get you prepped for the spring game.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.