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Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers Hoping to Strike Right Balance With Veterans and Youth This Spring

March 29, 2021

There is power in numbers.

That’s what returning senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann said about the players who decided to return to Nebraska for the 2021 season. Domann was joined by Marquel Dismuke, Deontai Williams, Ben Stille and Will Honas, seniors taking advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility. Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, a junior, put the NFL on hold to come back to Lincoln as well.

“The idea I had when I came here is to return it to the winning tradition that is here,” Domann said, “and to create a culture that lasts beyond my time here. With the opportunity to come back both of those doors are wide open waiting for us to walk through them so I’m really excited for this next year.”

The Huskers’ hopes got a boost for the 2021 season when the veteran bunch decided to come back for another year. The team now has several key defenders to lean on for the season. It’s also important for those returning players to help bring the young players in the program along. According to Scott Frost there is a balance to be struck between keeping those veterans sharp and getting young players ready. A lot of the young talent in Lincoln haven’t had a full spring practice schedule under their belts.

“We had a conversation today with the coaching staff about finding the right balance with some of the older guys,” Frost said. “With all the talk of transfer portal and kids leaving I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this many super seniors coming back. They honestly could have gone anywhere and played but wanted to be back here.

“So we have to find a balance between getting them better and ready to play next fall but also not grinding them through spring ball. We will find the right balance between giving the young reps and getting the guys who have been a long time their share.”

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also believes it is a balancing act this spring. It was a long season in 2020 with the amount of time that the team spent getting ready for the season. The season was shorter in terms of how many games and reps players got. There is another thing those returning players can do to help the program.

“They’ll work on their leadership this spring,” Chinander said. “We got six guys back so hopefully we will have six coaches out there because they are very versed in what we are trying to do. They know all the drills.

“I’m asking them to take dual roles of not only making themselves the best player they can be, but also making everyone else the best they can be. I’m really pleased with those guys coming back. They are going to be instrumental to what we are trying to do. I was just really happy that they came back.”

Having veteran players that need to be mixed in with youth is ultimately a good problem to have for Nebraska. The 2021 season can represent a nice bonus chapter for those players that came back to Lincoln. The defense could make more strides this fall. If they do a large chunk of credit will go to these returning players. Plus the team’s ability to juggle development and keeping players sharp.

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