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Nebraska Football

Hot Reads: How the Huskers Handled an Unbalanced DT Depth Chart

July 19, 2018
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At the end of May, Nebraska's scholarship distribution at defensive tackle looked like this:

Seniors: Peyton Newell, Mick Stoltenberg
Juniors: None
Sophomores: None
Freshmen: Damion Daniels

That's a slight problem for 2018. The Huskers have other scholarship players who could slide in and play at defensive tackle, not to mention walk-ons who would be available, but in terms of true scholarship tackles that was it. And it's an even bigger problem for 2019. Nebraska wasn't able to add a defensive tackle in the 2018 class, meaning that at the end of May it looked like the Huskers only had one scholarship defensive tackle (Daniels) returning for next season, and Norfolk, Nebraska, defensive lineman Ethan Piper‍ entering in the 2019 class.

That potential problem may be fully remedied before lunchtime today. Pima Community College defensive tackle Tony Fair‍ is expected announce his college choice for 2019 this morning (between Indiana and Nebraska), and I'm expecting him to choose Nebraska. People have long considered him a strong Nebraska lean, and now it looks like we'll finally find out if that's true.

Assuming that Fair does pick the Huskers, he'll join the program as a junior and have two years of eligibility remaining. That fits perfectly with Nebraska's June 1 addition of graduate transfer Vaha Vainuku, who should help address depth concerns both seasons.

If Fair commits to Nebraska the Huskers' sparse defensive tackle scholarship distribution chart looks like this:

Seniors: Vainuku
Juniors: Fair
Sophomores: Daniels
Freshmen: Piper

That's without any other additions in the 2019 class. It's not a group that, right now, is long on experience or proven ability at this level, but it is at least balanced. And that to me is a fairly savvy bit of roster management in just two recruiting cycles.

Defensive tackle isn't unique in that regard. When this staff took over Nebraska was looking at a 2019 without any senior scholarship wide receivers on the roster. Instead the Huskers should have two thanks to the additions of Mike Williams and Jaron Woodyard. Greg Bell isn't just a good running back capable of contributing right away, he helps balance up the running back room for next season between upper and underclassmen.

These kind of roster moves are easy to overlook, but in the case of Nebraska's early recruiting efforts –– high school prospects, junior college players and transfers all included –– the Huskers haven't just added potential contributors. They're also getting this roster evened out, which will make future recruiting efforts easier as the coaches won't have to continually be addressing immediate and pressing needs.

It's been a while since Nebraska's been in that spot.

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