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Mailbag: Transfer Portal Quarterback Talk, Offensive Line Improvement and More

December 15, 2021

Today is the first day of the early signing period for college football, which runs through Friday. Catch all of the Huskers’ recruiting developments right here.

Though there’s recruiting news all over the place, the mailbag never sleeps. This week’s edition tackles the quarterback and offensive line dilemmas at Nebraska, if there should even be a signing day now that the transfer portal has changed the game, and much more.   

Of all the big-name quarterbacks in the transfer portal (Nix, Slovis, Calzada, etc), who do you think is the most intriguing for Frost and his staff? Who is the best fit? (@GraysonKielhold) 

Greg Smith: Myles Brennan has been identified as the top pick by the staff. Things can change quickly and new players are entering the portal daily. I think that’s one of the safest picks of the portal quarterbacks, if the Huskers can land him. Nebraska might not be in a position to take a chance on a player with higher upside.  

Steve Marik: I’m with Greg, Brennan seems like a good fit in the new Whipple-Frost offense. Brennan had the offense rolling at LSU before his injuries hit. Now, can the coaching staff persuade him to come to Lincoln when other SEC programs would surely take him? That’s the question.

Can the offensive line make that much improvement with transfer players? Or is it up to Donovan Raiola to create something with Whipple’s scheme? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Jacob Padilla: Both. If they can land an impact starter or two, that would obviously be great. But Nebraska isn’t going to be able to land an entirely new starting five. Raiola is going to have to coach up the guys already in that room and find a mix of transfers and returners that can hold up well enough for Nebraska to do what the Frost/Whipple hybrid offense requires. It will be interesting to see what a new pair of eyes and a new voice with a different training style do for the players returning in that room. Do we see one of the starting tackles slide inside to guard? Does Ethan Piper slide back to center with Cam Jurgens off to the NFL? How quickly will Teddy Prochazka be able to get back on the field?

Should they get rid of the early-signing day? Why even have a national letter of intent? With students now able to transfer at will, couldn’t we just do an open-signing period (like Bo talked about a long time ago)? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Mike Babcock: Well, if Bo said it, we for sure have to steer clear . . . just kidding. I wasn’t in favor of firing Bo, despite his shortcomings. He was principled and at least his teams always won at least nine games and went to bowls. Anyway, I’d be interested in what Greg thinks. My concern is, just an open-signing period might lead to even more havoc. 

Steve: I hear what you’re saying, but I still think there’s a place for a signing day. It creates a fun day for the high schoolers who do get recruited.

Maybe this has already been asked, but with it looking like we will get 15-16 high school recruits, how many transfers can the Huskers bring in? (@TylerSPedersen) 

Greg: I could see the team having 13 high school recruits and one JUCO commit at the end of this week. The team already has four transfers. They will for sure bring in a quarterback. A wide receiver and at least one more offensive lineman will end up in Lincoln too. Seven is the floor for total transfers.

Any updates on any transfer quarterback? How many more transfer/recruits do we take? (@Peyton51533) 

Greg: See the update about on the quarterback situation. When it’s all said and done, I think the Huskers will add 7-10 total transfers.

My dad has been begging me to ask this: Why isn’t NU looking at Bubba Starling? Like FSU with Chris Weinke. (@KaMaNo18932820) 

Jacob: Does he want to play football? Is he capable of playing high-level football after a decade of professional baseball? Even if the answer to both of those questions was yes, Starling committed to Bo Pelini’s staff and has no connection that I’m aware of to the current coaches. 

Steve: I think Bubba’s ship sailed a long, long time ago.

Everyone gets so excited about us potentially getting a four-star quarterback. Why can’t the four-star one we have be that guy? He’s been in the system for a year, got some reps. Who’s to say Logan Smothers (or Heinrich Haarberg) isn’t the man? (@LeftCoastHusker) 

Greg: Both Smothers and Haarberg will get their shots to show they are the guy. I just wonder if internally the team knows that it’s going to be tough to count on either to consistently win Big Ten games in a make-or-break year for Frost.  

Mike: Agree with Greg, but it’s concerning to me from the standpoint of recruiting. Frost recruited those players, yet he’s looking for someone else after they’ve had little opportunity to prove themselves. Yes, there’s a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but Scott indicated his plan to tweak things on offense, not start over—though maybe that’s the plan now. Still, it doesn’t reflect well on Nebraska’s recruiting commitment, in my opinion. As Oklahoma City University’s legendary Abe Lemons said, he had to call a recruit into his office and say, “I thought I liked you, but I don’t.” As a result, this might be a situation in which the transfer portal is a good thing for the student-athlete. 

Steve: Agreed, Logan and Heinrich might be the man, and if they stick around they’ll get an opportunity to win the QB1 job. But it’s a make-or-break year for Scott Frost. It’s smart to add one or two transfer quarterbacks who have more experience into the room to provide competition. Frost doesn’t want to roll into the 2022 season—which could be his last at Nebraska if things don’t go well—with his only two options being Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg, who have a combined one start under their belt. 

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