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Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Satterfield, White Encouraged by Returning Huskers Without Getting a ‘Feel’ for Them

January 07, 2023

Members of Matt Rhule’s coaching staff arrived in Lincoln well after the 2022 season ended. Rhule himself was announced as the new head coach the morning after Nebraska’s upset win over Iowa and wasn’t introduced until two days later. By the time they finally got here, they barely caught a breath before hitting the recruiting trail.

That’s a byproduct of Rhule’s energetic approach. Defensive coordinator Tony White mentioned in his comments on Friday, if you don’t recruit while working for Rhule, you don’t stay. It doesn’t leave a lot of time in the calendar for meeting returning players. Athletes left for semester break or finished finals as White and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield arrived. They’ve gotten a chance to introduce themselves to some who poked their head into offices. But nothing beyond a brief hello and a name with a face.

This is where studying comes in. Rhule’s a constant student and always learning. That’s rubbed off onto his coaches. White, for example, is still learning the Blackshirt tradition and watches 2022 defensive film when he gets a spare minute. Film study gives him a chance to evaluate some returning Huskers. And despite Nebraska’s defensive woes last year, White witnessed promise on tape.

“When you watch the guys, they play their butts off and you do have some talent there,” White recapped. “I think it was just a matter of, for me, making sure everybody’s on the same page and everybody knows what they’re playing for.”

White said he likes “the guys up front,” including Ty Robinson and Nash Hutmacher, but could always go for more. White recruited Robinson back in his Arizona State days. He liked the athleticism in the secondary. He’s especially interested in the linebacker room, anchored by Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich, both of whom he’s met already.

“Really interested to see how that linebacker room plays out,” White said. “That will be a big thing in terms of being able to put guys in the right positions and what kind of personnel groups and things you put together. I think that room is going to be key to what we do.”

Satterfield, meanwhile, mentioned wanting different receivers. Not different in that he doesn’t like the receivers they have, but different in their skillsets and body types. Nebraska loses its top two tight ends and record-setting wide receiver. A few capable receivers return, or at least are in line to return, who could expand their roles right away. The new offensive coordinator likes the work they’ve done so far with the 2023 recruiting class at the position.

“We’ve got some good receivers, I just think we’ve got to build some depth there,” Satterfield said. “You don’t want them all to look the same, you need different types and body types and stuff.”

He doesn’t have to worry about depth at quarterback. With the addition of Jeff Sims through the portal, Nebraska’s quarterback roster consists of four who have started Power 5 football games. Satterfield said that’s really excited about every member in the quarterback room. Some of the younger quarterbacks in the room he’s excited about, having recruited them when he was at South Carolina.

Satterfield potentially broke the applause meter across Nebraska when the pledged to use a fullback and run the ball. But in terms of running back depth, they haven’t had a chance to evaluate yet. Anthony Grant developed into a clear No. 1 option last season and Ajay Allen recently announced his intentions to return after his last season ended early with collarbone surgery.

“I haven’t felt them yet, you know what I’m saying,” Satterfield posed. “I really feel what I saw on tape. And I think we’ve got a good room there and I think they were productive at times last year and I think they’ll be productive moving forward.

“Until I can see them and feel them at the position it’s kind of hard to make a judgement.”

That’s where the the coaching staff is at right now. It’s all moving fast. Neither coordinator has explored much of Lincoln, Satterfield admitting not much more than the hotel. The portal will close in less than two weeks and the final letters of intent signed by February 1. Then come the meetings between each other to ensure a united vision. And everything after that.

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