Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Projected Class of 2023 Defensive Needs for Nebraska

May 21, 2022

The 2023 recruiting class is shaping up to be a pivotal one for coach Scott Frost at Nebraska. It’s another year where the talent in Nebraska and the surrounding region is on the rise. That makes it more important for the Huskers to win its share of battles for those players. Not only are they talented but players that go to schools close to home are more likely to stay at their schools. That’s an important factor during the transfer portal era.

Now the Huskers are hosting a summer full of official visits. Why not take a look at the program’s remaining needs for the current cycle? We started with the offensive side of the ball last week so let’s flip it over and look at the defense.

Defensive Line

Commits: None

Projected Remaining Need: Three

Defensive line recruiting will be closely watched this cycle. There is a big need for Nebraska to land impact players at the position. There are still many young defensive linemen on the roster but its unclear when they will be ready to take the next steps in their development. That will create a need to bring in more young linemen. Texas native Riley Van Poppel is a versatile player that could play a traditional 4-3 defensive end role or 4-3 defensive tackle. The Huskers have an official visit set with him in June. Kansas City native Edric Hill (6-3, 271) is another player that fits the bill to be a versatile piece for the line. One key factor to watch here is what type of players are the Huskers recruiting for the defensive line? Are they recruiting to a 3-4 or 4-3? That will change the need for a more traditional nose tackle in this class.

Linebacker

Commits: None

Projected Remaining Need: Three

This one gets tricky for the Huskers. I’m including EDGE players as linebackers for this exercise. They could be placed as linebackers or defensive linemen for the Huskers. There are a pair of clear favorites for that position this cycle. Elkhorn South EDGE Maverick Noonan (6-4, 225) has long been a top target for the Huskers and the team will host him the first week of June. Ashley Williams (6-6, 220) is an emerging prospect from Louisiana that the Huskers have made great progress with. He will also visit Nebraska the first week of June. Indianapolis athlete Aycen Stevens (6-5, 230) is also in the mix to be a potential EDGE for the Huskers. He also has an official visit set with Nebraska for June.

Whether the Huskers offer rising 2023 in-state defender Kade McIntyre is a building storyline. Iowa recently offered him as an outside linebacker. It might be smart for the Huskers to re-evaluate his film. Mickey Joseph did stop by his school recently.

The inside linebacker picture isn’t as crowded. Pennsylvania linebacker Phil Picciotti is a top target but the Huskers have stiff competition for him. Nebraska will get its shot at the defender though in June. Mateaki Helu (6-1, 200) is committed to Utah but is scheduled to visit the Huskers in June too. The team doesn’t have a glaring need at inside linebacker. They could take one “can’t miss” prospect or skip the position this cycle.

Defensive Back

Commits: Dwight Bootle II (Miami, Florida)

Projected Remaining Need: Two

It’s very hard to determine how many more defensive backs the Huskers need for the 2023 recruiting class. Nebraska signed four prospects and added three more transfers at the position last cycle. That’s after signing three total defensive backs in the 2021 class. Based on the numbers you’d think the Huskers don’t need more but Fisher always finds a way to add talent to his room.

I’d count on him doing the same this cycle. The Huskers already have legacy defender Dwight Bootle II in the class. Florida defender Braeden Marshall is a top target the Huskers are hoping to lock in an official visit with soon. The Huskers offered Beni Ngoyi as an athlete but he could end up in the defensive backfield.

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