We have a jam-packed mailbag for you today, folks.
This week we touch on a multitude of topics, including the impact that Name, Image and Likeness has in the college football world, what the addition of Millard South product Maddie Krull means for Nebraska’s women’s basketball team and which 2022 class recruits will get to Lincoln in the summer.
Let’s get on with it.
What are your thoughts on the addition of Maddie Krull to Amy Williams’ team next year? (@GeneralChaoz01)
Jacob Padilla: Krull wasn’t a terribly effective scorer at South Dakota (she actually scored more as a freshman than she did as a sophomore), but she played heavy minutes for a team that won 29 games and made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. She’s a tough and well-rounded guard who competes on defense (6.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore). We know Jaz Shelley, Sam Haiby and Allison Weidner will eat up a lot of minutes in the backcourt, but the Huskers needed some guard depth beyond them after the departures of Mi’Cole Cayton, Ruby Porter and Whitney Brown, and Krull will have an opportunity to compete for the minutes those departures opened.
Steve Marik: What Jacob said. Williams must love the fact that Krull was a starter from day one at South Dakota. She started all 60 games in her two-year career there and played all 40 minutes against Ole Miss in the Coyotes’ first-round NCAA Tournament earlier this year. Though her scoring and shooting numbers won’t wow anyone, she’s a tough player who I think will love playing for Williams and her home-state team. A great glue player who fits into the culture that Williams has built.
How does the football team determine spring-ball practice? Do they decide or is it determined by B1G? Curious why they have it when spring break occurs and not consecutively like many others. (@Sal_Vasta3)
Brandon Vogel: There’s an NCAA window for conducting your 15 practices. If the calendar breaks right, Nebraska can occasionally avoid that break in the middle and I think Frost has said he prefers that. This year, however, Nebraska had a “hard out” so the new turf could be installed. That’s why the game was a bit earlier this year, and I’m guessing there might not have been four or five consecutive weeks before the university’s spring break.
With NIL and the one-time transfer option, it seems like football is creating almost a need for a GM at the university level. “Free Agent” players at positions of high value pop into portal, see what “market” (NIL) can give them and then come back to their team and say, “OK, match or exceed this.” So, the question is: How soon until college football becomes a minor league NFL branch? Or something else? (@Sal_Vasta3)
Brandon: Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said recently that he thought the breakup of the NCAA’s top level of football was “inevitable,” but he estimated it wouldn’t be until the mid-2030s. That sounds reasonable to me. Ten or 12 years from now, NIL will have evolved (and maybe settled down a bit), the Playoff will probably have expanded, we’ll know what a 16-team, superpower SEC looks (and acts) like, the Big Ten and SEC will probably still be lapping everyone else in terms of TV revenue and, to your point, schools will have a better grasp on how this new era works. Point is, I think there’s still much to sort through before the top 50 or 60 schools decide they want to break off and do it on their own. I agree with Swarbrick that it seems inevitable, and I’m not sure yet how I feel about that. On the one hand, I love college football as it is. I like to watch Alabama, Akron and Air Force all the same, but those schools have probably never played on a level playing field. The difference with the NIL era is we can see even more clearly how big those gaps are. Barry Switzer is working on a collective at Oklahoma that would reportedly get every football player close to $50,000 a year. Tulsa, for example, could never come anywhere close to that. It might struggle to get one player $50,000. Should those schools theoretically compete in the same division for the same spoils? They probably never were except in name only, but NIL as it stands now makes the difference even more stark and I’m not so sure Tulsa isn’t better off if it doesn’t have to compete with that and Oklahoma might be better off in some future superleague where there’s at least a chance to regulate the spending wars. Outside of a playoff that isn’t a beauty contest to qualify, I generally don’t want college football to look more like pro sports, but that seems where we’re headed.
What recruits are we still waiting on to arrive? When will they? And how will they fit in this fall? (@lredeugene)
Greg Smith: There is actually a much smaller group of summer arrivals than normal. There are 11 recruits who will arrive in Lincoln in June. Janiran Bonner, Decoldest Crawford, Ajay Allen, Jake Appleget, Emmett Johnson, Chase Androff, Brodie Tagaloa, Jalil Martin, Malcolm Hartzog, Gage Stenger and Justin Evans-Jenkins are the traditional recruits joining the team this summer. The most important player Nebraska might be waiting on is transfer kicker Timmy Bleekrode. He’ll arrive this summer, too.
Steve: I agree with Greg that Bleekrode will probably make the biggest impact. In the past two seasons at Furman, an FCS program, Bleekrode made 21 of his 25 field goal attempts, with a long of 51. He also averaged 42.9 yards on 91 career punts, but the Huskers brought in last year’s FCS Punter of the Year, Brian Buschini, so Bleekrode will be kicking field goals only next season, unless something drastically goes wrong with Buschini. Also, keep an eye on Hartzog, who made a name for himself as a kick and punt returner in the high school ranks in Mississippi. He could get some opportunities in the return game right away.
What is the scholarship count currently and how do you expect that to change before the May 1 deadline? (@blackshrtnation)
Jacob: There are a few players whose status I’m not totally sure of at this point (Wyatt Liewer, Damian Jackson, Oliver Martin and Jaquez Yant specifically), but if all of them are on scholarship I believe Nebraska is sitting at 86. If any or all of them were only temporary scholarships that puts them at or below the limit of 85. There will probably still be a few defections and additions as Nebraska remains active in the portal with a need for defensive line help in particular.
How is Caleb Tannor progressing this year? Any questions relating to obtaining a decent pass rush? (@Fieldgoalgoalz)
Steve: Haven’t heard much from or about Caleb this spring, which has kind of been the norm during his career at Nebraska, at least in my opinion. During the spring game he showed some really nice things as a pass rusher, though many others did too against the backup offensive tackles who were playing. Tannor is coming off his best season in Lincoln, one where he had season-highs in tackles (33) and tackles for loss (5.5). He was so close last year to getting home on some sacks but seemed like he was just one step away. He’s always been an undersized outside linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, which doesn’t exactly help him against heavy run offenses. However, he’s a tough player and brings attitude to the defense. This is just me, but I’m expecting another solid season from him. Everyone will be watching those sack numbers, though.
Can I convince you the top three running backs by the end of the season will be, in no particular order; Anthony Grant, Rahmir Johnson and Ajay Allen? (@HuskersMN)
Brandon: No, not yet. It won’t surprise me at all if Grant and Johnson are there. It’s that remaining spot where I’d still put my money on Gabe Ervin Jr. if I had to.
Jacob: I don’t know, can you? Let’s hear the argument.
Greg: Possibly but I’m in the boat with Brandon here. On a related note, how quickly the reps get pared down in fall camp to develop a top three at running back will be very interesting.
As a Sacramento Kings fan, who do you want as coach? (@Starkastic8)
Brandon: I’m not a Kings fan, but as a Vogel the answer is Frank Vogel.
Steve: Not Mark Jackson, please and thank you. I’d be OK with Steve Clifford. Mike D’Antoni would be entertaining. But I’d be interested in seeing what Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham could do with his own team. It should be noted that Charles Lee, another Bucks’ assistant, is rumored to be in the running, too, but I like Ham more because he’s been an NBA assistant longer than Lee and is considered the Bucks’ top assistant behind Mike Budenholzer. Ham (and I guess Lee, too) has seen up close how a championship organization runs (yes, having one of the best basketball players on planet Earth in Giannis helps, too) and it’d be good to have a little of that added to what Kings Twitter lovingly refers to as Basketball Hell, otherwise known as Sacramento.
Greg: I am rooting for Mark Jackson to get the job. Not to annoy Steve, but to keep him off the Lakers’ bench.