Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Returning Huskers Who Can Make a Move in Winter Conditioning – Offense

January 18, 2023

Nebraska’s winter conditioning period begins this week. That gives Matt Rhule’s coaching staff, predominantly strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell, a first time working out their players.

This session will show Nebraska’s new coaching staff what sort of team they have to work with. They get to see the work ethic and drive in the 2023 Huskers. Rhule’s reputation for developing players and elevating programs is partially built here. That involves high-energy, demanding workouts.

New arrivals through Nebraska’s 2023 recruiting class and portal arrivals garnered the most attention in recent weeks. But plenty of Huskers return with something to prove on the clean slate 2023 offers. Here are some of the returning Huskers who can benefit from impressive workouts and strong showings this winter. Yesterday we tackled the defense, today we run with the offense.

Offense

Thomas Fidone II, tight end: It’s time. Two injury-mired seasons in the rearview mirror, he can seize the open tight end position this winter. Once the nation’s top tight end prospects out of Council Bluffs, Fidone has the frame and look to step into the role. He can run block, a point of emphasis by this coaching staff, and beat a defender running routes. His potential is one that this coaching staff could help fulfill starting in 2023.

Shawn Hardy II, wide receiver: The Georgia native was pretty quiet last year after the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year honor he earned in 2021. He came to Lincoln as a heavily sought after recruit but hasn’t cracked the receivers group. It’ll be an uphill climb again in 2023 with portal arrivals, promising freshmen and a handful of returning Huskers who stayed above Hardy on the depth chart. With a clean slate, however, he could raise his own stock.

Chris Hickman, tight end: The tight end position is wide open. Nebraska’s coaching staff is still pursuing veteran tight ends who can step in right away. Until then it’s a position up for grabs. Hickman’s played in a handful of games throughout his years in Lincoln already. And the former Burke standout has the frame (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) this strength and conditioning staff can work with. He could seize a larger role starting this winter.

Emmett Johnson, running back: Make no mistake, this is a loaded running back room. Anthony Grant is the established No. 1 and both Ajay Allen and Gabe Ervin Jr. played big snaps last season. But running backs coach EJ Barthel, when highlighting the room, specifically mentioned Johnson’s spring camp performance from last season. This staff has done its homework. A strong winter could expand Johnson’s special teams role and strengthen an offense that intends to run the ball more.

Ezra Miller, offensive line: Nebraska’s coaching staff has tried to recruit veteran offensive linemen through the transfer portal who can play immediately. Depth became an issue during a tough season for the Huskers’ offensive line. The Iowa native has played in just three games across three seasons in Nebraska so far. In a position of need, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior could prove his value and win more snaps in 2023 with a big winter.

Nouredin Nouili, offensive line: He’s got something to prove in a position of need. Nouili played every game in 2021 but missed all of last season when the NCAA ruled him ineligible because of a failed drug test. He continued to work with the team and, now eligible, can prove his value to a new coaching staff. The former Norris Titan via Germany also has just one year of eligibility left. The stage is set for a big season from him in 2023.

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