We’ve made it to No. 7 in our countdown of the top-10 most intriguing Huskers for the 2022 season.
In case you missed the first three picks, here they are:
Before we talk about No. 7, let’s clarify something first: What do we mean by intriguing? Oxford Languages defines intriguing as arousing one’s curiosity or interest. In other words, fascinating. Which 10 Huskers fascinate you the most heading into the season? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.
Now that the definition is out of the way, let’s talk about our No. 7 pick—Trey Palmer.
Trey Palmer | 6-foot-1, 190 pounds | Receiver
If one were to rank the most interesting press conferences of spring ball, Palmer’s would be at the top, and it’s not close, either.
“I just do what I do,” Palmer said when asked what he wanted to show fans at the spring game. “It ain’t no show—it’s a clinic.”
“It’s paying off a lot. Ya’ll gonna see April 9,” Palmer said with a smile when asked how the throwing sessions with the quarterbacks and receivers were going.
“I’m a calm person, so I’m calm and collected through the pressure and everything,” Palmer later added. “I’m built for pressure, so I like stuff like that.”
Those are words from a confident player. But as fans are well aware of, the Huskers’ spring game wasn’t anything special. Palmer didn’t get the opportunity to put on a clinic against defensive backs or show that he could back up his words with exciting plays.
The spring game’s first half was a thud session, resulting in a two-hand touch competition with the first teams before a second half that featured full-contact football with the reserves. Palmer only caught two passes for 11 yards. The current favorite to win the starting quarterback job, Texas transfer Casey Thompson, threw four passes.
To put it bluntly, it was a boring scrimmage for a football-starved fan base. But take a step back to look at the big picture, and you’ll see it was a smart move from a coaching perspective to do it that way. Due to injuries, the Huskers lacked depth and were without multiple starters. It would’ve been hard to field two full teams of healthy bodies. Better to play it safe and keep focus on the fall rather than risk more headaches in April.
While his head coach, Scott Frost, never wants Palmer to cross any lines, having someone at a skill position with that kind of confidence can be a good thing.
“Trey has fit great, and he fits in great because of his personality,” Frost said. “He brings energy every single day. Has made a lot of plays out there, he can really run. So I think with some more time working with him he has a chance to do some special things, and I’m looking forward to seeing that development.”
Nebraska is providing the opportunity Palmer has been waiting for. For three years at LSU, he was playing behind NFL-caliber receivers like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr., Racey McMath and Kayshon Boutte. That kind of star power isn’t residing in Lincoln.
Palmer showed glimpses of big-play ability at LSU. Last season was his best as a Tiger—he caught 30 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Nebraska’s offense could use his playmaking ability. One play that represents what Palmer is capable of is his 61-yard touchdown reception last year against Texas A&M, which finished the season No. 3 in scoring defense at 15.9 points per game.
Palmer, lined up as the No. 2 receiver to the field, or long side, took a short screen pass, followed his offensive linemen to daylight and let his speed do the rest. His elusiveness with the ball in his hands is easy to see:
But Palmer isn’t just a receiver who excels at catching screens out of the slot—he’s also showcased his abilities as a returner on special teams, which is a big deal for Nebraska, which has struggled to get anything out of the return game lately. As a true freshman in 2019, the former four-star recruit from Kentwood, Louisiana, brought back a punt 54 yards for a score against Northwestern State.
That return is shown below. Palmer’s elusiveness in traffic is impressive. And it says something about him that the coaching staff entrusted a true freshman to return punts, albeit against an FCS opponent in the fourth quarter of a blowout. You can see how calm Palmer is in a high-tension play like this, where he had to run toward defenders to field the ball:
In the 2020 campaign, Palmer made another coverage unit pay—this time South Carolina’s kickoff team. Palmer returned a third-quarter kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. As you can see in the video below, the return didn’t get off to the greatest of starts as Palmer fumbled the ball before picking it up and finding the end zone:
During the spring, Palmer was asked about his relationship with Joseph, who recruited and coached him at LSU. Joseph obviously played a large role in convincing Palmer to leave LSU for Nebraska, a place he had no prior connections to. Joseph coaches his receivers hard, and if they don’t respond well to it, Nebraska might not be the place for them.
This spring it was revealed Palmer was actually benched by Joseph during the South Carolina game. Joseph gave Palmer another opportunity later, and that’s when the house call happened.
“I can’t tell you what really went down, but I was mad in my little world,” Palmer said why he was benched against the Gamecocks. “So I was like, ‘You know what, I’m not going to take it out on nobody, I’m just going to go out here and return the kick,’ and that’s what I did.”
Palmer has shown he can be electric with the ball in his hands, but consistency will be something to watch with the talented receiver. Palmer’s role in Mark Whipple’s offense won’t be known until the Northwestern game, but there’s a chance Palmer could be viewed as the skill player who Whipple identifies and feeds the ball to—the offensive coordinator has a history of doing that.
At Pittsburgh last season, that player was receiver Jordan Addison, who caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. Receiver Maurice French was Whipple’s guy in 2019—he had 96 catches, 850 yards and four touchdowns. In 2018, when Whipple was the head coach at UMass, Andy Isabella was identified as that guy and caught 102 passes for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns.
On paper, Palmer looks like he might be Whipple’s next star skill player, and that’s mighty intriguing.