It would seem Scott Frost doesn’t want to leave anything to chance in special teams this upcoming season.
Nebraska has added Connor Culp, a graduate transfer kicker from LSU, to the roster. A source confirmed the news to Hail Varsity. He will walk on in the fall and have one year of eligibility. Culp put his name in the portal back in January after the Tigers capped their national title-winning season.
He was the team’s starting kicker in 2017, when he connected on 11 of 16 field goal attempts (20-for-23 on extra points), but lost the job in 2018 and again in 2019. Culp was a 3-star recruit out of high school and a US Army All-American.
This is now fourth kicker Nebraska has added to the roster since the end of the 2019 season. New senior special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge has wasted no time remaking that department of Nebraska’s third phase.
Iowa Western Community College transfer Chase Contreraz joined the team for spring ball. Tyler Crawford and Ryan Novosel will be joining the team as walk-ons in the fall. Nebraska also just this week added a scholarship punter to the team in Australian native Daniel Cerni.
They take the place of a handful of departed kickers from last year’s team. Barret Pickering, a scholarship kicker, entered the 2019 season injured, missed the first eight games, and then connected on only three of his five attempts. Pickering announced he was leaving the program after the season ended. Dylan Jorgensen got first crack at the job in Pickering’s absence, but missed his only attempt against South Alabama, struggled to handle kickoff duties and then picked up an injury himself. He entered the portal after the season ended as well.
Lane McCallum played hero against Northwestern, hitting the game-winner in a 13-10 victory, but McCallum, according to the Huskers online roster, is now playing linebacker for the team. Even still, he missed two of his four attempts in five games and didn’t appear to be a long-term solution at the spot.
Matt Waldoch, a late-year addition from the club soccer ranks at UNL, was the only kicker to experience any success last season (going 4-for-4), but he is not returning to the team.
In all, Nebraska missed eight of its 20 attempted field goals throughout the 2019 campaign while playing in six games that ended with a margin of seven points or less (2-4 in those games). Countless times, Frost’s play-calling inside the opponent’s 30 was dictated by a lack of trust in the kicking department.
"That's a place where we need some new guys to come in," the head coach said back in March. "We are waiting on a few of our commits and recruits from last year to come in and give us depth and more talent at certain places. Certainly kicker has been an issue for a little bit around here. We are not in the best place right now. I think coach Rutledge has some ideas for how to address those things.”
Culp will bring something no one else on the roster currently has: Division I kicking experience.
Should make for an interesting competition.