Is there time to sneak in one more top-five list before spring football really gets underway? It's technically already underway, but today is the first chance to talk to the coaches and players and that's an important turning point in this short spring journey.
Having regular updates means everyone goes from projection to reaction for a five-week stretch. There's regular news, everyone reacts to it, thinks about what it might mean, takes in the spring game and then hopefully all of the news and quotes you've stocked up on in March and April lasts you through the summer, when it's back to projecting.
Here's one more list in just under the wire. It's not really a projection––though I guess that's sort of baked into the idea itself––but a personal statement. You've read a ton about all of these guys already, so I'll be brief, but here are the five players I'm watching most closely this spring. The criteria is nothing more than how high is their reading on my personal "I'm interested to see what happens here" meter.
JoJo Domann: Safety? Outside linebacker? Some sort of hybrid? A guy that never comes off the field? I think all are in play and I have no idea which is most likely. Domann is a page-turner this spring, a book with stunning advance reviews that is just now available to the public as more than an excerpt (i.e. he's healthy). There's a lot of things Nebraska can do with a player like this.
Kade Warner: His 17 catches in 2018 rank fourth among returning Huskers and the two guys ahead of him not named JD Spielman are a tight end (Jack Stoll) and running back (Maurice Washington). Nebraska needs to develop some trust and continuity in the passing game this spring. It's a key piece of the overall puzzle. There are other receivers who will get more attention and probably put up bigger numbers come fall, but if Warner continues to improve and offers some reliability it gives the Huskers' talented true freshmen the room they need to be talented true freshmen (which is to say, dazzling at times and freshmen at others).
Christian Gaylord: Nebraska has one scholarship senior on the offensive line. This is him. The time is now, with two starters to replace on the line, for Gaylord to make his move. It's not so much that the Huskers need him to, but that if he does show he is in contention for the job at right tackle it gives the Huskers options up front. Best option being, of course, getting the best five on the field at the same time.
Cam Jones: He was my favorite defensive signee in the 2018 class and seems to really live that safety life. Three seniors at his position plus an injury delayed his Nebraska debut by a season, but that might end up working out better for the Huskers anyway. Nebraska needs leadership at this spot. It also needs playmaking ability, it needs more of what Antonio Reed did against Michigan State. I like Jones's chances.
Jaylin Bradley: Running back help is on the way, but it won't be here until the summer. That opens up a big opportunity for Bradley to make a move after a mysterious 2018. This staff thought enough of him to show some recruiting interest while at UCF, so there was something else amiss as Bradley took a redshirt. But with Ozigbo gone and the 2019 signees a few months out from arriving, Bradley has an extended audition in the weeks ahead. So does Wyatt Mazour, for that matter. Somebody beyond just Maurice Washington has to carry the ball this spring.
The Grab Bag
- Jacob Padilla offers a preview of Nebraska-Michigan State.
- Pitcher Colby Gomes was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
- Greg Smith on how spring practices can help spur 2020 recruiting.
- Jim Delany announced he’ll retire at the end of his current contract in 2020.
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.