After three losing seasons in a row, Nebraska football needs players to step up big this year. This staff has recruited well, and it’s time for some guys to take that next step. It’s hard not to look at our roster and pinpoint guys who should be able to contribute this year.
In 2 years under Scott Frost guys have under performed, that needs to change in 2020 if we want to make it to a bowl game.
Bryce Benhart OL
After a redshirt year to learn and get bigger in the weight room, there are big expectations for the former 4-star recruit this upcoming season. It will be very interesting to see if he is ready to take over at right tackle and allow Matt Farniok to slide inside to guard, his more “natural” position.
Frost has made it very clear he wants to get bigger on both lines.
At 6-9, 300, Benhart fits the bill for adding size to compete against Big Ten defenders. Benhart was a huge recruiting win and it can pay dividends if he ends up locking up our right tackle position this season. We’ll have him available for the next three years. This position group could be the “sleeper for most improved” if they build off improvement from last year. After adding talent and size like Benhart and Turner Corcoran, the future looks bright on the offensive line.
Ty Robinson DL
With the Davis twins and Darrion Daniels graduated and off to the NFL, the defensive line will need some young guys to step up and begin playing meaningful snaps. It all starts with Robinson. He was good enough last year to be the highest graded defensive lineman in the Wisconsin game, and we all know what kind of offensive line Wiscy puts out on the field.
That should tell us a lot about where he should be development-wise for this upcoming season. He should only be better after a redshirt year and good offseason. Much like Benhart, Robinson provides size upfront, but besides that size he brings good athleticism and a high motor. As a nose tackle, we won’t see a lot of stat stuffing from him, but he will eat up blocks to allow our (hopefully improved linebackers) to run and make plays.
Alante Brown WR
A 4-star recruit in this year’s class, Brown is already on campus as an early enrollee allowing him to get ahead start on other receivers who aren’t on campus yet. It is even more important now that JD and Darien are gone (I don’t think JD will be back but I’m hoping for the best).
He brings a deep threat, good route running, consistent hands, and football IQ from playing quarterback in high school before switching to WR at prep school. It was reported that he had the fastest 40 time from everyone coming back from winter break and as we all know speed kills.
Brown and the rest of the room need to be ready. We will be leaning on a lot of guys this year to produce but Brown has the head start and a spot up for grabs right in front of him. It would be a welcome sight to see if he can seize the opportunity in front of him and put up some nice numbers as a freshman (maybe similar to Wandale numbers?). Coaches have said he could fit the Duck-R position.
Caleb Tannor OLB
He is already a junior! His first two years at Nebraska have been relatively quiet for someone who was ranked in the top 20 of his position and had every SEC school after him. He showed flashes of the elite pass rusher he was in high school. He just needs to be more consistent in run fits and develop his pass rush moves. He has the athlete part down.
He has played in every game since his freshman year, finally earning four starts this last year while playing significantly more on defense. This could be a breakout year for Tannor. He has been in the program for three years and big things are expected from him. This team desperately needs someone who can go get us a sack. Hopefully in year three, we’ll finally have one of those “guys”.
Chris Hickman TE/WR
Because of departures in the WR room and good depth at TE, Coach Frost has moved Chris Hickman to wide receiver for the time being.
The offense needs speed guys, but it also needs physical guys who can win a 50-50 ball. Nebraska has been lacking that for quite some time. Hickman is 6-6 and has gotten his weight to 215. He has nice hands and he could be a real threat in the redzone where he can use his size, especially when there is not much space to work with.
Playing time is up for grabs and with Omar Manning and Zavier Betts still working to become academically qualified. Hickman needs to use this spring to give himself a chance to show what he can do before the other “big bodies” show up in the summer.
This staff would love to have the tight end production they had at UCF where they were very successful splitting out their tight ends and running seam routes. Hickman is athletic enough and a good enough route runner to be effective out wide.