Nebraska Cornhusker wide receiver Samori Toure runs with the ball against Nebraska Cornhusker linebacker Nick Henrich and Simon Otte during practice
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Level-Headed, Sure-Handed, Versatile: Nebraska Seems Excited by WR Samori Toure

April 10, 2021

Once before Nebraska, in 2019 when the pair of receivers were at the FCS level, Levi Falck and Samori Toure shared a field. Toure’s Montana Grizzlies were facing Falck’s South Dakota Coyotes. Montana jumped out to a 24-10 lead that day, and then controlled the ball for just over 12 fourth-quarter minutes to win rather comfortably, 31-17.

Toure played a key role—nine catches for 142 yards. He had catches of 45, 19 17, and 16 yards (which was a touchdown). “UM basically ran the ball through the air, with Sneed hitting Toure and (fellow wideout Samuel) Akem and others with quick-hitting passes,” MTN Sports’ Slim Kimmel wrote after the game. “Toure, especially, helped the offense find a rhythm in the first half.”

“I’m glad he’s on my team now,” Falck said this past week of the 6-foot-3 wideout who transferred to Nebraska this offseason.

Seems to be a common refrain. 

Toure will start in the slot, according to head coach Scott Frost, which will serve as a stark gameday contrast to what that position has looked like in Frost’s first three years. Will the same be said of the way the position functions? Probably too early to tell that, but by most accounts Nebraska has in Toure this spring what it expected to have. 

“He can do a lot of different things,” said offensive coordinator Matt Lubick. “He’s very smart. He’s an experienced player who has played four years of football. Comes from a great program. Very well coached. Learns fast. Big-bodied guy that has great catch radius. Can go up and attack a ball in the air, 50-50 balls aren’t 50-50 with him. He goes up and gets them, and then he’s a very good route-runner, very polished.”

Interesting skillset for a slot guy, with a frame that will create significant matchup problems for defenses. Put a nickel DB on him and he might have a serious height advantage. Put a linebacker on him and he should have a serious athleticism advantage. 

Toure’s former coach at Montana, Bob Stitt, the man who recruited him, told Hail Varsity on a podcast around the time he agreed to come to Nebraska that Toure runs like a gazelle. He said that Nebraska would be excited about what it had the instant he showed up. 

“He could do anything,” Stitt said. “You just want to find ways to get him the ball. He can really put his foot in the ground. A lot of vertical guys, they can really run, but they can’t make people miss and they’re not really who you want inside in the slot, and Samori can play anything. 

“He can take those little smoke routes you saw Alabama doing early in the National Championship game—just trying to get it to their Heisman trophy winner—and you just do a little play-action and pop it out there. Multiple times, Samori would take those for 30 yards where a normal receiver, just an average receiver, it might have been a 2-yard gain.”

Takes talent to get numbers like what Toure put up at Montana. In 2019, he had 82 catches for 1,495 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. The Montana native set single-season program records for yards and receptions, a good enough year to earn him first-team all-conference and first-team FCS All-America honors. 

There weren’t too many concerns about Toure making the jump on the field from FCS to a P5 level. If not for COVID, Toure would likely be preparing to get drafted into the NFL. This should be a showcase year for him, and he appears to be treating it with that kind of focus.

And for Toure off the field, he’s got some help to make this transition easier. 

A guy like Falck can offer a lot of advice. He made the jump from the FCS level ahead of the 2020 season and then earned a regular spot on the field throughout the year. He was one of Nebraska’s Day One starters. 

“The challenges are just the new lingo,” Falck said of the adjustment. “I know he kind of ran a similar offense at Montana, but they call everything different (at Nebraska) so some of the same words are going to mean different things, so it’s just deciphering quick. He knows the offense really well, it’s just moving fast, and he’s even doing a good job of that now.”

The guy throwing him the football called him level-headed, and said his mindset is perhaps his best attribute. 

“He really wants to be great here and we could tell that pretty early on,” said quarterback Adrian Martinez.

Nebraska went inside Memorial Stadium to scrimmage recently, and it looked as though Toure was running free on several occasions. The media team featured him pretty heavily in a look-in after the fact. 

Get used to that. Toure in space downfield with the ball in hand, it’s a welcome sight for Nebraska. Probably not so much for the guys on the other side, though. Ask Falck.

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