There had been just one spring practice when the Nebraska football team met with the media on Monday. Despite that, there were already a number of storylines to dive into with the program. The Huskers are entering a pivotal fifth spring under coach Scott Frost.
One thing that always catches attention is when a player who seems to be on the cusp of breaking out gets mentioned. There could be a number of players to fill that role of offense, mostly because there is so much that is new on that side of the ball. The Huskers have four new offensive coaches and the scheme is at least being tweaked.
Wide receiver Alante Brown was singled out by Frost on Monday. He’s someone the head coach felt has taken a leadership role with the team over the winter.
“I think that is a work in progress, too. We have a lot of new pieces on offense,” Frost said. “I maybe would comment on Alante Brown. He has had a really good offseason and he really has a voice in the wide receiver room that we have needed. I hope he keeps coming on the way that he has because we are seeing some good things from him.”
Brown played in 11 games for the Huskers in 2021, catching three passes for 30 yards and returning five kickoffs for 77 yards. His second season in Nebraska followed a freshman season that saw him play in every game, mostly contributing as the Huskers’ top kickoff returner. While he caught three passes for 41 yards and had one carry for 18 yards in 2020, he led Nebraska with 10 kickoff returns for 196 yards.
Wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph hasn’t gotten a lot of time with Brown yet but that will change by the end of spring. While Joseph also didn’t know much about Brown when he arrived at Nebraska, one thing did quickly stand out.
“When I see him, he’s a kid that loves football. That’s the number one thing,” Joseph said. “That’s the number one problem with NCAA football today. These kids don’t love it. They like it. They like to get on Twitter, they get on Instagram and get likes. Alante loves it. He loves the game. You can win with kids when they love the game. When they like it, you’re going to be in trouble. So, one thing he brings to the room is leadership but he works and he’s there all the time. He doesn’t miss anything. He gets in there and gives 100%. He’s tough.”
The third-year receiver now hopes to make a big move for Nebraska this spring. There is a lot of competition for playing time at his position but he’s one to keep an eye on.
Defensive back will be just as competitive this spring. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has five mid-year enrollees practicing this spring and two more players on the way this summer. From those that are returning, Marques Buford Jr. is a player flying under the radar this spring.
“That was my hidden gem for a while right there with him,” Fisher said. “This kid he is going to surprise a lot of people because I got him at the safety position. You look at him and say he’s a corner. No, he can play any position in the secondary. I got him at safety right now just because with his size you wouldn’t think a guy like that would be so physical. He ain’t scared of nobody. He’s fearless.”
Fisher loves that Buford has the speed to fly down from the safety spot and make tackles. As a freshman, Buford played in every game for Nebraska. He was a prominent fixture on special teams, totaling three tackles in 2021. He also saw action on defense against Fordham and Buffalo.
For the young defender, it’s all about gaining more experience now. The more experience he can get this spring the better Fisher thinks he will look going forward.
There will have to be new players that emerge this spring for Nebraska. The team lost a lot of experience from the 2021 squad. This is also a critical spring for many second, third- and fourth-year players in the program. If there was a Husker stock market it would be a safe bet to put faith in Brown and Buford making a move.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.