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Nebraska Spring Football Preview: Defensive Backs

This group is going to do big things this fall.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 18 Nebraska at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you missed them, take a look at the other spring previews.

Position Coach

Travis Fisher

Breakdown By Class

Seniors- 2

Juniors- 3

Sophomores- 4

Redshirt Freshman- 4

Freshman- 13 (4 are 2020 Freshman and 9 are 2021 Freshman)


Dicaprio Bootle- Departing for the NFL

Ronald Delancy III- Transfered to Toledo

Bradley Bunner- Graduated


The most anticipated from this group is Marques Buford Jr. He was the top-ranked prep school recruit out of St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut. Due to Covid-19 their season was cut to only 5 games. His previous four years were split between Bollingbrook High School in Chicago and Trinity Christian High School in Texas. While at Trinity Christian he was all district and all state for two years. In his senior year he recored 40 tackles and three interceptions.

The 2021 incoming freshman class has eight more defensive backs. They are Malik Williams, Blake Closman, Koby Bretz, Derek Branch, Christian Lilienkamp, AJ Collins, Michael Booker III, and Payton Wheeler. All of these athletes are listed as defensive backs and have not yet been declared as cornerbacks or safeties.

Returning Production

At safety both senior starters, Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams chose to return to Nebraska for a final year.

Last season Williams played in every game. He recorded a career high 51 tackles, four tackles for a loss, and one sack. He also had four pass break ups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In the Penn State game he had a thirteen-yard strip sack that was fumbled, he recovered that fumble and scored a touchdown. He was named All- Big Ten Honorable Mention.

Dismuke was also earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2020. He started every game and recored 47 tackles, a career high four tackles for a loss, and had four pass break ups.

Junior cornerback, Cam Taylor- Britt was second team All-Big Ten, Coaches and played in every game. He looks to be Nebraska’s best over-all defender in 2021. He totaled 26 tackles, three tackles for a loss, four pass break ups, two interceptions, and six passes defended. He was integral part of keeping Rondale Moore and David Bell in check during the Purdue game.

Myles Farmer also saw a decent amount of playing time at safety before he suffered a season-ending injury during pregame warmups at Purdue. He totaled eight tackles and tied Taylor-Britt for a team high two interceptions.

Other players that saw time on the field at corner or safety were Quinton Newsome (11 tackles and a forced fumble) and Noa Pola-Gates. The rest of the roster did not see playing time at cornerback or safety in 2020, though many contributed on special teams.

2021 Outlook

Expect to see Dismuke, Williams, and Taylor-Britt starting in their respective positions in 2021.

Coach Fisher talked about Noa Pola-Gates and Myles Farmer being next out at safety, They are doing well this spring and are stated as being at more of a “1.5” than a second string position. While Dismuke and Williams seem to have the starting safety positions in the bag. These two may surprise some of us this fall and take those positions.

Javin Wright is a safety that impressed those in attendance at the open practice when he made one handed interception.

As far as the other cornerback spot, Quinton Newsome also had people talking after the open practice on Saturday and was mentioned as a front runner by Coach Fisher after yesterday’s practice. But he’s not going to have the job handed to him as, Nadab Joseph (wasn’t eligible until November and then suffered an injury in the Purdue game), Tamon Lynum, and Marques Buford are all battling it out for that job as well. Braxton Clark is in the running too, but he has been limited in spring practice this year due to coming back from an injury that kept him out last season.

The defensive backs are strength for the Husker defense this season. This group is in good hands with veteran leaders and young players that are anxious to get their shot and prove themselves. This unit will be a fun one to watch this fall.


2021 Defensive Backs

2021 Defensive Backs

# Name Height Weight Year Hometown Listed Position
# Name Height Weight Year Hometown Listed Position
4 Myles Farmer 6'3" 205 R-Fr. Atlanta, GA / Westlake Safety
5 Cam Taylor-Britt 6' 205 Jr. Montgomery, ALA. /Park Crossing Cornerback
6 Quinton Newsome 6'2" 180 So. Suwanee, GA. / North Gwinnett Cornerback
7 Tamon Lynum 6'2" 180 Fr. Orlando, FLA. / Evans Cornerback
8 Deontai Williams 6'1" 205 Sr. Jacksonville, FLA. Trinity Christian Academy / Jones County CC Safety
9 Marquel Dismuke 6'2" 215 Sr. Compton, CALIF. / Calabasas Safety
11 Braxton Clark 6'4" 210 So. Orlando, FLA. / Dr. Phillips Cornerback
12 Marques Buford Jr. 6' 190 Fr. Desoto, Texas / Trinity Christian School / St. Thomas More Prep Defensive Back
15 Malik Williams 6' 190 Fr. Atlanta, GA. / Buford Defensive Back
16 Nadab Joseph 6'2" 190 So. Miami, FLA. / Noland HS/ Independence CC Cornerback
21 Blake Closman 5'10" 190 Fr. Elkhorn, NEB. / Millard North Defensive Back
21 Noa Pola-Gates 5'11" 180 R-Fr. Gilbert, ARIZ / Williams Field Safety
23 Isaac Gifford 6'1" 205 Fr. Lincoln, NEB / Southeast Safety
26 Koby Bretz 6'2" 195 Fr. Omaha, NEB. / Westside Defensive Back
29 Ashton Hausmann 6' 205 Fr. Roca, NEB / Norris Defensive Back
33 Javin Wright 6'3" 205 R-Fr. Chandler, ARIZ. / Hamilton Safety
35 Derek Branch 5'11" 175 Fr. Lincoln, NEB / Southeast Defensive Back
37 Phalen Sanford 6' 190 So. Benkelman, NEB. / Dundy County- Stratton HS / Hastings College Cornerback
40 Darius Moore 6'1" 185 Jr. Tiffen, Iowa / Clear Creek Amana HS/ Iowa Western CC Defensive Back
41 Christian Lilienkamp 6' 170 Fr. Bellevue, NEB./ Bellevue West Defensive Back
42 AJ Collins 5'10" 170 Fr. Bennington, NEB / Ccreighton Prep Defensive Back
43 Michael Booker III 6'1" 195 Fr. Grand Prairie, Texas / South Grand Prairie Defensive Back
43 Mason Nieman 6'3" 200 Fr. Waverly, NEB./ Waverly Safety
47 Tyson Guzman 6'3" 210 R-Fr. Omaha, NEB. / Westside Safety
48 Lane McCallum 6'2" 220 Jr. Norfolk, NEB. / Norfolk HS / Air Force Safety
49 Peyton Wheeler 6'3" 190 Fr. Blockton, Iowa / Mt. AYR Defensive Back