Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Offensive Coordinator Marcus Satterfield Discusses Nebraska’s Shuffling Bodies at Tight End

March 24, 2023

Nebraska Offensive Coordinator Marcus Satterfield doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. He doesn’t want to make definitive statements or single out players over others at this point in the spring. But, on Thursday, he admitted the roster is better than he initially imagined.

He likes the quarterbacks, a room he directly oversees. It is also a deeper room than he’s ever had. Satterfield started a graduate assistant at quarterback his first year at South Carolina. Right now there are four quarterbacks with Power 5 starting experience on Nebraska’s roster. Satterfield likes the productivity he’s seen from running backs. Coaches like the various abilities and leadership shown by receivers so far. The new coordinator complimented offensive line coach Donovan Raiola on Thursday for the trenches work.

The veteran offensive coordinator who spent the last two years in the SEC also pointed to Nebraska’s tight ends group. It’s the position fans might be most excited to see. John Goodwin, Chase Androff, Braden Klover, AJ Rollins and Luke Lindenmeyer are also there, waiting to break through. Nate Boerkircher showed promise last season and gained praise from the coaching staff already. Thomas Fidone II is also back on the field and Arik Gilbert’s shown glimpses of his game-breaking ability.

“That’s the hardest position on the field because we talk about throwing a lot at guys, they’ve got double everything,” Satterfield said. “They have to pass protect, they have to run block, they have to go run routes. So they’re the ones that have to make sure they go extra in the classroom to make sure they’re able to go practice.”

The coordinator explained Nebraska could line up in 13 personnel. That includes a bigger tight end blocking on the outside, a smaller tight end that plays more like a fullback and a different tight end that plays as more of a slot receiver. He’s excited to build depth at the position this spring with the variety of responsibilities.

“We have the body types of what I’ve always wanted to have on an offense,” Satterfield said. “I’ve never had this many type of tight ends.”

Two Huskers moved to tight end from different positions. Lincoln Southeast graduate and standout receiver Jake Appleget moved from edge. Another new addition to the tight end room is Janiran Bonner. He signed with Nebraska as a receiver but the coaching staff likes his athleticism at tight end. Head coach Matt Rhule sees him as a hybrid-type of tight end and Satterfield reiterated his durability to block and catch at the line.

Satterfield complimented Bonner’s athleticism and willingness to learn the new position.

“The No. 1 thing is he’s had to accept a role and he’s not flinched and he’s gotten better, better and better,” the coordinator said. “We were out in pads today and the first thing you want to see is will he put his face in there? And he did all day today. With his explosiveness and where he can learn to shape his body the right way, and play that position, I think that he’ll be a really good piece for us.”

Fidone’s injury struggles are well documented. Rhule said on Monday the Council Bluffs native is mad at him for limiting some of what he can do in practice out of a safety precaution. Gilbert, the transfer from Georgia, is a different kind of story. Satterfield chuckled at some of the things he’s already seen from the new arrival. He threw out words like “freak” and “gifted.” The coordinator’s already seen some instances of Gilbert’s potential he called “mind boggling.” Gilbert is listed at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds but Satterfield said he came in just south of 280 but still moves fast.

Off the field issues kept Gilbert from breaking through at Georgia like he started to at LSU. He’s on the right track now to reach his potential, Satterfield said, and the coaching staff wants to continue guiding him.

“I think it’s as much on coaches as it is on him,” Satterfield said. “The easy thing to say is what does he need to do to be successful. But it’s what do we need to do for him to allow him to be successful.”

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