Nebraska had a flurry of it’s own with players entering the portal last week. We all knew this was coming, Nebraska at one point had over 100 scholarship football players in the spring and we have to get down to 85 when we play Minnesota. According to On3’s public chart, Nebraska is down to 88 players at this point. There’s one or two still on there that I believe are weighing their options to know where they could end up. Some guys want to stay FBS, and if they put their name in the portal Nebraska is released from its obligation to pay for them if they wish to retire. I know Rhule has offered this to one or two guys still on that list, they are going to see if there’s any interest and if not, they will take the offer.
You also have to remember that there is going to be some natural attrition this summer as well. Whether it’s guys cracking a teammate over the head with a beer bottle like what happened in the Pelini days, someone getting homesick, or just not jiving with the staff, I feel pretty safe sayin weare where we need to be with numbers. And we can go grab a couple in the portal if need be. Today we will go over our top 3 losses from the dozen that have left. Here we go!
#1 Casey Thompson
Look, i’ve been telling everyone that would objectively listen that there was no way Jeff Sims wouldn’t be our starter against Minnesota. Thompson didn’t even play this spring, and there was no way Sims was heading anywhere without getting some sort of assurances. Further, Rhule had people he trusts telling him that Sims is an NFL guy. Look, I have questions on Sims’ arm despite Satterfield defending his stats pretty emphatically. But the bottom line is the conversation to get Sims here, and what Rhule had to say to Thompson after spring, was a very easy thing to say. “Look, Sims is our #1 through summer and entering spring. He has looked the best in this offense and you will have to unseat him to get the job.” Makes all the sense in the world.
Now take it a step further, i’ve made mention to people how extremely rare it is in 2023 college football to have 2 QBs on your roster that have started over 20 games in Power 5. It just doesn’t really happen. Sims isn’t coming here to be a backup, and Thompson wasn’t staying without a guarantee.
While the staff and any fan would have loved to have Thompson stay “because we need 2 QBs”, that’s just fan talk and wishful thinking. The reality of things are that teams typically have their #1 guy, and then the younger guys behind him that you are developing where you can hopefully get a good spot start or two from them if there’s an injury. The problem for Rhule and his staff is there was basically zero development behind Thompson last year with the last staff. Thompson was the clear #1, Haarberg just got sent down with scout team the whole time who is our #2 as of right now, Purdy definitely has work to do, and Torres and Smothers are gone for now.
#2 Ajay Allen
I had posted elsewhere when Wynn entered the portal that I thought he would be the second best guy that we lost (as I knew Thompson was leaving), and in my opinion that’s a really good situation. We got word that Allen entered the portal and while I could sit here and tell you why it’s not really a huge deal, we would have loved to keep Allen. I can tell you we didn’t want to lose him. He would have been great depth, so to say he isn’t a loss would be disingenuous.
But let’s be real… he was a true freshman, played in only 4 games, and was in a crowded room. Ervin Jr seems to be back to his former self that had him being the first starter at iBack for Nebraska in the programs history. Oh, and by the way the backup to Ervin was Honorable Mention All-Conference last year for us with Anthony Grant. That room was just too crowded to keep someone like Allen, especially with him being out a bit this spring with an injury.
There will be no doubt that Allen will end up somewhere that makes people upset he is gone. But he’s a guy you can point to that just doesn’t jive with the new staff. He was recruited by Applewhite and Barthel is just too different. With these two tweets it makes sense that one of these 3 would be gone.
#3 Stephon Wynn
Wynn seemed to be one that I didn’t understand why people were getting so upset about it. But people are really concerned about our DL depth, and I understand it a bit more. With that said, I did tell people in my preview that I was less concerned about the depth there seeing how our young guys were doing and how few of guys we actually play along the line on defense.
And not to cut a guy down, but Wynn had only 22 tackles in 2022. But 9 of those came against Georgia Southern and 4 of them came against North Dakota. His .5 tackle for loss for the entire season was against GA Southern as well. Do we need guys dominating Go5 and FCS teams? And we get Ty Robinson back as well, which will do nothing but help.
Look, DL depth is always needed, but Wynn coming back had about as much effect on our success this 2023 in Lincoln as if Buckley stayed or went. It was a good depth piece, but it wasn’t making or breaking anything.
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