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Ones That Got Away Part of Huskers' Depth Issue at WR

September 20, 2017
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The topic of wide receiver play at Nebraska has come up quite a bit through the first three games of the season. The group had to replace a handful of veteran pass catchers leaving just a few experienced receivers left on the roster.

Drops have plagued the group and have stalled out some Nebraska drives. Keith Williams said Monday that it only takes a few players having a mistake to mess up an offense’s rhythm.

“It’s not contagious, it’s just lack of execution by an individual at that particular time,” he said. “It’s not anything you can’t explain in terms, like it being something from space or anything like that. It’s just missed execution by the person who dropped it each individual time. If three guys drop one, that’s a lot. To the individual he said, ‘ah, it’s one mistake.’

"But collectively that’s too many. It’s not contagious. It’s a bad deal. It’s on the coach and I’ve got to get them right.”

Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly talent in the room with Stanley Morgan Jr, De’Mornay Pierson-El, JD Spielman, Tyjon Lindsey and the injured Keyan Williams who I think will all be solid contributors this season. How did Nebraska get to the lack of experience in the group to go along with a lack of depth at the position?

Well injuries have derailed a couple of guys on the team. I mentioned Keyan Williams. Nebraska hopes to get HIM back from a hamstring injury this week. Also, true freshman Jaevon McQuitty was set to contribute to the team this season before a knee injury forced him to redshirt.

Now let’s talk about the guys who either made it to campus and left or were thought to be heading to Nebraska. Keyshawn Johnson Jr will likely be back in January but he surely would be in the mix to play right now based on the numbers at the position. Remember Derrion Grim? He got homesick and left Nebraska last August citing a lack of trust in Mike Riley’s offensive vision.

Let’s take a look at the numbers through three games of the wide receivers that Nebraska didn’t get commitments from, or had silent commitments from only to be spurned last minute.

Player Rec Yds YPC

TD

Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville 10 211 21.10 4
Jamire Calvin, Washington St 8 59 7.38 1
Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon St 17 156 9.18 1
Derrion Grim, Fresno St 5 40 8.00 1
Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt 6 106 17.67 3
TOTAL 46 572 12.67 10

That’s a good amount of production Nebraska is missing or could have on its roster. Of course they wouldn’t just do the exact same thing they are doing at other schools, but they are productive players elsewhere.

This all underscores the larger point of where Nebraska is with its wide receivers. Kalija Lipscomb is a player that the Huskers missed out on because Dez Fitzpatrick was a silent commit who went to Louisville last minute. Nebraska has missed its desired target of players brought in each year Keith Williams has been the wide receivers coach. Some of those situations in recruiting are out of his control (Fitzpatrick, Calvin, Grim) and some are not his doing once they get here (Johnson and McQuitty are examples) but the fact still remains Nebraska must bring in more wideouts.

The Huskers are off to a good start in the 2018 cycle with 4-star Joshua Moore‍  and 4-star Cameron Brown‍ in the class. They are still in the mix for a number of high-value players like 4-star Isaah Crocker‍, 4-star Tommy Bush‍ and 4-star Kobe Smith‍. The margin for error in college football is slim when trying to rebuild a program. Nebraska needs to close the deal on the recruiting trail and keep those players here so fans can see better results and more depth on Saturdays.

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