Here are a few positions to watch heading into spring football.
For the first time in what feels like 20 years, Nebraska will have a quarterback battle heading into March. Former Tulane starter Tanner Lee and redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien will both be vying for the job, with early enrollee Tristan Gebbia likely digesting as much as he can handle. The biggest factor in the race? The guy who likely commits the least amount of turnovers – a problem the last two seasons.
GUY WHO NEEDS A BIG SPRING: O’Brien – While he has been on campus and in Danny Langsdorf’s offense actually longer than Lee, the former Tulane quarterback has 19 starts under his belt – a vital stat when talking about a quarterback battle. O’Brien can’t make up for experience. We don’t know if a guy will win the job coming out of the spring, but it seems more logical that if one does win, it will be Lee. O’Brien’s job is to give the staff something to think about heading into the summer months. Both O’Brien and Lee would greatly benefit motivation wise the job was still open in the summer.
Did you know there are only six scholarship wide receivers on campus heading into the spring – not counting a walk-on or two who is being rewarded for just this semester. We have all blinked and DeMornay Pierson-El is now a senior. Stanley Morgan is an upperclassman. But let’s face it, everyone wants to get a good look at early enrollee Jaevon McQuitty and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., who both figure to be in contention for a two-deep spot. McQuitty is possession-type receiver with the ability to get separation. Johnson is an extremely polished route-runner for his age.
GUY WHO NEEDS A BIG SPRING: J.D. Spielman – We heard a lot of great things about the redshirt freshman last year. He was actually named the Scout Team Offensive MVP. But, four-star receiver Tyjon Lindsey will be on campus in the summer and is expected to contribute right away. Check that - start right away. The pair bring a lot of similarities to the field. Spielman will need to use the 15 practices to carve out a niche for himself.
I’m being way too broad here, but we really don’t the full vision of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 look. Personnel might partially dictate the scheme in 2017. The transition will be challenging. At the nose tackle spot specifically, we figure Carlos Davis gets a look. The redshirt sophomore had 24 tackles and two sacks last season. But what about Mick Stoltenberg? Is he too tall to anchor the trenches? How does Freedom Akinmoldun fit in?
GUY WHO NEEDS A BIG SPRING: Khalil Davis – His twin brother gets most of the headlines, but the former Missouri prep standout needs to take his game to the next level in 2017. In 12 appearances last year, Davis had five tackles. Is he a nose tackle? Or does his athletic ability put him on the outside with Carlos in the middle?