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Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Receiver Zavier Betts Leaves Nebraska Football for a Second Time

August 12, 2023

Wide receiver Zavier Betts has left the Nebraska football team for the second time. Head coach Matt Rhule confirmed the news following the team’s scrimmage on Saturday.

Betts did not practice the majority of the week, which Rhule explained as “he’s injured” following Tuesday’s practice. The head coach then explained Betts’ decision as nothing disciplinary, just a decision he made to tell the coaches his heart was no longer in football.

“Very, very, very proud of Zavier for what he’s done as a person, getting eligible,” Rhule said. “I think he intends to stay in school and work to graduate.”

Rhule admitted the timing of Betts’ decision provided a difficult blow to the team. The former 4-star recruit from Bellevue West rejoined the team and got up to speed in the spring and endured summer workouts. His decision came midway through preseason camp with three weeks between the Huskers and their season opener.

“What we ask people to do is hard and if their heart is not in it, we certainly understand,” Rhule said. “Proud of the growth he’s made and wish him the best. He’s a guy I love and care about and hope he finds what he’s looking for.”

Betts signed with Nebraska from Bellevue West, where he set a Class A high school record with 46 touchdown catches. He was the top in-state recruit in the 2020 class and tallied 32 catches, 417 yards and a touchdown with the Huskers. Then, in March of last year, former head coach Scott Frost confirmed the former T-Bird left the football program. Betts also left school and seemingly walked away from football altogether.

Then, with the coaching change in the winter, the playmaking receiver entered the transfer portal. Betts returned to Nebraska and rejoined the Huskers with Rhule’s approval. Betts completed 21 hours of course work in the spring in order to be eligible to play this fall. He explained his reasons for returning in a summer interview with Sports Nightly.

“I really did it for my family and for the fans, because I know a lot of people were sad when I left,” he said. “Honestly, I feel like I let everybody down. So I wanted to come back and show everybody.”

His progress and drive encouraged the coaching staff and inspired some of his teammates. Quarterback Jeff Sims cheered for Betts after learning his story. The two grew closer in spring ball and throughout the summer. At Big Ten Football Media Days, Sims spoke about their relationship.

“Zavier has made some plays that make your jaw drop,” Sims said. “He only wants to get better and I feel he only can get better from here. Zavier is a great player, great dude and his greatest goal is to do what he can for his team.”

Rhule, while not wanting to speak for Betts, said the receiver plans to stay enrolled at Nebraska and focus on school.

The 6-foot-2, 205 pounder was primed to see significant snaps this fall. Marcus Washington is still on the sidelines with another injury he sustained at the beginning of the week, opening opportunity next to Billy Kemp IV and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda.

“Some guys are going to have to step up,” Rhule said. “You know, at the end of the day receiver is probably the area we had the most question marks about, obviously this leaves another question.”

The Huskers practiced on Saturday without Washington or Garcia-Castaneda, who was instead at his graduation ceremony. Rhule said that gives the promising freshman class an opportunity to step into role right away.

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