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2017 Nebraska Spring Football: Secondary Preview

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Two new coaches & another new scheme for the Huskers secondary

David McGee

One of the main issues with Nebraska’s Secondary the past few seasons is that they have gone through many coaches in the past 6 years. How many? Well, let’s count them.

You had Marvin Sanders, Corey Raymond, Charlton Warren, Brian Stewart and now the combination of Donte’ Williams & Bob Elliott, who have split up Cornerbacks & Safeties.

That’s a lot of coaches who have come through, and with three schemes in the past 4 seasons, that’s a lot to learn, unlearn and relearn.

The Nebraska Secondary play was better in 2016, going from 122nd in FBS to a modest 49th. While there is room to improve, the Huskers seemed to do better in a quarters type of coverage that former DC Mark Banker instilled. The team also seemed to do better when Banker split up the Safeties and Corners between him and Stewart.

Now that both coaches are gone to other places, however, it’s critical for the Nebraska Secondary to find a new starting Safety to replace a local legend, as well as getting new talent ready to play on the field more.

Departed:

Nate Gerry - 74 total tackles in ‘16, 4 interceptions & 1 sack. Also suspended for Fresno State (team rules) and the bowl game vs. Tennessee (grades)
Charles Jackson - left the team in September.

Returning:

2017 Returning Defensive Backs

No Name Pos Ht Wt Year Hometown (Prev School)
No Name Pos Ht Wt Year Hometown (Prev School)
8 Chris Jones CB 6-0 185 Sr. Jacksonville, Fla. (Sandalwood)
11 Boaz Joseph CB 6-1 190 Sr. Weston, Fla. (Cypress Bay)
10 Joshua Kalu CB 6-1 190 Sr. Houston, Texas (Alief Taylor)
6 Eric Lee Jr. CB 6-0 190 So. Milton, Mass. (Valor Christian (Colorado))
23 Dicaprio Bootle DB 5-10 180 RFr. Miami, Fla. (Southridge)
2 Tony Butler DB 6-2 195 RFr. Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward)
19 Marquel Dismuke DB 6-2 180 RFr. Calabasas, Calif. (Calabasas)
13 JoJo Domann DB 6-1 205 So. Colorado Springs, Colo. (Pine Creek)
29 Nolan Graham DB 5-11 200 Jr. Firth, Neb. (Norris)
1 Lamar Jackson DB 6-3 195 So. Elk Grove, Calif. (Franklin)
36 Reid Karel DB 6-3 205 So. Seward, Neb. (Seward)
35 Jeremiah Stovall DB 5-11 175 So. Omaha, Neb. (Creighton Prep)
28 Eli Sullivan DB 6-2 190 RFr. Longmont, Colo. (Longmont)
4 Avery Anderson S 6-0 185 So. Surprise, Ariz. (Pine Creek (Colorado Springs))
16 Antonio Reed S 6-2 220 Jr. Memphis, Tenn. (Southaven (Miss.))
24 Aaron Williams S 5-11 185 Jr. Atlanta, Ga. (Carver)
26 Kieron Williams S 6-1 195 Sr. Shreveport, La. (Air Force Prep) (C.E. Byrd)

Newcomers:

2017 New Defensive Back

Name Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown (Prev School)
Name Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown (Prev School)
Elijah Blades DB 6-2 170 Fr. Pasadena, Calif. (John Muir)

Earlier last week, Mike Riley had a depth chart for the start of Spring football. Here’s what he had listed:

Field Corner: Chris Jones, DiCaprio Bootle (Eric Lee was omitted Wednesday, he would be between Jones & Bootle)

Boundary Corner: Joshua Kalu/Lamar Jackson, Boaz Joseph

Free Safety: Aaron Williams, Kieron Williams, Tony Butler

Strong Safety: Antonio Reed, JoJo Domann, Marquel Dismuke

One has to wonder how much Kalu can hold off Jackson and stay in the starting Corner on the boundary. It’s not like Kalu would not see the field, he’d simply become the nickle corner.

Also, with the talent that Blades is bringing to Nebraska, he’ll probably find the field by conference play at either corner. What gives Nebraska some flexibility is that Blades & Lamar Jackson would not just be alright at Safety, but welcome it as well.

Nebraska’s secondary will have to get better this year as the front goes through some major changes. Will they? Time will tell, but the faster they & the staff teaching them can get acclimated to Bob Diaco’s system, the better.