A Closer Look

Mike’l Sevedre’s take on each new Husker

Analysis by Steve Beideck
In Nebraska, despite what happened the previous season, football springs eternal.

And this spring, there is real cause for optimism leading up to the Spring Game on April 9. There are new offensive coaches, including a new offensive coordinator; there is a dedicated special teams coach; and most of all, the portal gifted Nebraska a host of new players who pass the eyeball test. In the next month and a half, we will find out how well the newcomers can fill holes in Nebraska’s roster and who among the returning players are ready to step up. The following is a look at who is in the mix at each position.a

Casey thompson

6-1, 200 | Quarterback | Junior | Oklahoma City | Newcastle High School | Texas

There are a lot of things I like about Thompson overall, but I like his field awareness more than anything. Watching a majority of his throws last year at Texas, his ability to go through all his progressions is obvious. He also has excellent touch and precision on intermediate throws. He doesn’t have a big arm and often puts a little more air under the longer throws to get them there. He does a great job of not drifting in the pocket, sets his feet and goes through his progressions. He has good anticipation on his throws, especially those outside the hash marks. He moves well inside the pocket and can scramble for a first down but does not look to run. The ball comes out of his hand quickly and he is a precision passer with above-average accuracy, in my opinion. You can tell he has a high football IQ. He doesn’t seem to get rattled and has a calm demeanor even when things aren’t going great. As an aside, I think Thompson comes to NU with a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove after having an outstanding season at Texas but was still not guaranteed the Longhorns’ starting spot in 2022.

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Chubba Purdy

6-0, 210 | Quarterback | Redshirt freshman | Queen Creek, Arizona | Perry High School | Florida State

The Florida State transfer has a strong arm and easy release and appears to be a pretty good runner. He’s athletic, a dual-threat and does a good job putting air under the ball. He can throw a moon ball. He’s bouncy in the pocket. I’ve not seen enough of him at FSU – he played in a few blowouts – to offer an opinion on how he will do in the Big Ten.a first down but does not look to run. The ball comes out of his hand quickly and he is a precision passer with above-average accuracy, in my opinion. You can tell he has a high football IQ. He doesn’t seem to get rattled and has a calm demeanor even when things aren’t going great. As an aside, I think Thompson comes to NU with a chip on his shoulder and has something to prove after having an outstanding season at Texas but was still not guaranteed the Longhorns’ starting spot in 2022.

Richard Torres

Richard Torres

6-5, 210 | Quarterback | Freshman | San Antonio | Southside High School

He looks like a young clone of Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert. He appears to have studied all of Herbert’s pocket characteristics – the way he holds the ball, his throwing motion, even the way he rolls away from pressure. Torres is definitely not a statue back there. He is a functional runner who can get you some yards scrambling, but I could also see some called run plays for him, like off tackle sweeps. He does tend to hold onto the ball for too long while trying to make the biggest of plays. He also sometimes leaves the pocket for no reason, as if he’s feeling ghost pressure. It looks like he has a strong arm, but I would not say it’s an A-plus arm. He shows nice touch on fades and underneath passes. I can see him growing into a nice passer in offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s system with time.

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Brian Buschini

6-0, 215 | Punter | Sophomore | Helena, Montana | Capital High School | Montana

Punter isn’t usually one of the spots you nominate for your Super Six recruits, but with all of the issues Nebraska has had with special teams in recent years, the reigning 2021 FCS Punter of the Year is worthy, in my opinion, of a Super Six spot. Playing for the Montana Grizzlies, Buschini was one of the most consistent punters in all of college football with a 43-yard average. Plus he placed 30 of his 69 punts last season inside the 20-yard line. Watching video isn’t necessary to say he really seems to be the guy Nebraska has been looking for at punter. If Buschini can just go out and not make any big mistakes and help pin teams inside the 20, as he did for Montana, it could make a huge difference in field position – an area Nebraska struggled with the last three seasons.

Ajay Allen

Ajay Allen

5-11, 185 | Running back | Freshman | Monroe, Louisiana | Neville High School

He is one of the most natural runners I have seen Nebraska sign since Ameer Abdullah. He has great balance both in contact and when cutting. He’s patient to the hole and has great explosion through it. I really appreciate how easy he makes it look. His stiff-arm and upper body strength are impressive. He’s the best back in the class and maybe the best player, period.

Emmet Johnson

Emmett Johnson

6-0, 185 | Running back | Freshman | Minneapolis | Academy of Holy Angels

I don’t exactly buy that Johnson is 185 pounds. He looks slighter than that. Regardless, he is a big play waiting to happen and shows toughness on tape, especially on defense. He has a bit of an exaggerated way of cutting at times, and I think it’s him just styling and profiling more than anything else. I like the way he puts his foot in the ground and gets downhill. I’d love to see more film of him against defenses where the holes aren’t as big to see how he makes people miss in the backfield, which is often necessary at the college level. He does show good patience when waiting on a block. I think NU could use him similar to the way they used Maurice Washington his freshman year. I’m not saying Johnson will be as good of a receiver as Washington, but if you get him out in space, especially outside the hash marks, he certainly can make people miss. But I also thought the same thing about Miles Jones and that never developed. But with the new coaches on board and in a modified system, I think Whipple will find a way to get him the ball. Johnson doesn’t have elite football speed, but he is quick out of the box.

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Anthony Grant

5-11, 210 | Running back | Junior | Buford, Georgia | Buford High School | Florida State | New Mexico Military Institute

He is a compact runner with good, explosive speed out of the blocks and is really a solid 5-11, 210 pounds. He does not have elite long speed but is plenty fast enough to be a big-play threat. He is really good at setting up his blocks and has good patience when getting to the hole. His short-area quickness may be his biggest strength. He breaks some tackles, however the majority of his runs are through pretty good-sized holes, both from high school and JUCO, so it’s hard to judge. Grant also played some defense in high school and it seems like he enjoys the contact when it’s there. He has very good hands catching the ball out of the backfield. You can see on several screen plays that he is a natural catcher of the ball, gets it put away and turns up the field quickly.

Janiran

Janiran Bonner

6-3, 210 | Wide receiver | Freshman | Ellenwood, Georgia | Cedar Grove High School

Bonner apparently runs the “9” and “post” routes very well. That is what you see mostly on his tape. He appears to have decent long speed, has great size and is put together. He does a good job of catching the ball with hands and will high-point it. I like the way he adjusts to the ball in the air, and I wonder if he played baseball because he is good at tracking it. He looks, at least on tape, like the player people hope Omar Manning becomes. He reminds me of Devery Henderson, who played at LSU and for the Saints. They have a similar gate.

Decoldest Crawford

Decoldest Crawford

6-2, 190 | Wide receiver | Freshman | Shreveport, Louisiana | Green Oaks High School

Being from New Orleans myself, I’ve never thought that highly of the football played in the northwest part of the state. Out of the four corners of Louisiana, the northwest generally has been the weakest in terms of competition. It’s not that great players don’t come out of there, it’s just that they are harder to judge due to the lack of competition. In his film, you see Crawford dominate in many different ways. He has speed, he’s a good route-runner and he seems to have good hands. But again, it’s tough to judge based on the level of competition traditionally in that part of the state. I’m looking forward to seeing what Crawford becomes when he gets some good weight on him. It looks like, based on his frame, he could fill out nicely. He reminds me a little bit of former Husker Quincy Enunwa – another Louisiana product – when I watch him run.

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Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda

6-0, 185 | Wide receiver | Junior | Twentynine Palms, California | Twentynine Palms High School | Saddleback (Arizona) College New Mexico State

He is very skilled and is a great bad-ball catcher. He’s also a pretty good route-runner. We will have to wait and see how he will be stepping up in competition in the Big Ten.

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Trey Palmer

6-1, 190 | Wide receiver | Junior | Kentwood, Louisiana | Kentwood High School | LSU

Palmer is an intriguing add from the portal. He came to LSU as a do-it-all player and first made a name for himself with the Tigers as a return man and then as a slot receiver. Palmer is capable of lining up at any of the receiver positions. He has outstanding speed and is a good route-runner with good hands. He’s especially effective coming out of motion and getting into his routes. He adds a type of receiver that Nebraska has not had the last few years. He’s kind of a bigger version of De’Mornay Pierson-El. He’s built a lot like a running back and plays like it after the catch.

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Victor Jones

6-2, 190 | Wide Receiver| Freshman | Orlando, Florida | Olympia High School

Jones is a unique receiver with a bit of Laviska Shenault in him. Basically his team used him as an athlete, getting him the ball around the line of scrimmage and let him go to work. He ran a lot of middle screens and quick smoke plays designed to get the ball in his hands in space. You don’t get a chance to see a lot of his route running or an opportunity to see how he catches the ball in traffic. He has good size, looks like he has decent speed and breaks a lot of tackles. He is a long-strider but can still break down enough to make defenders miss in space. I would like to see him catch the ball more with his hands – he lets the ball get into his body too much. His ability to make people miss and break tackles means he is going to get on the field sooner than later.

Chase Andoff

Chase Androff

6-6, 230 | Tight end | Freshman | Lakeville, Minnesota | South High School

Androff is quite the finisher when it comes to blocking. You watch him block on the edge, and he just won’t stop until the play is over – and sometimes a little after that. I really like how physical he is at his size. He might be a little bit more than his listed 230 pounds, judging by his tape. In terms of catching the ball, he seems natural. I think my comp for him, when you also consider his blocking, is former Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett. He really uses his size well and when he is in the open he catches the ball fine. I feel bad for the guys on the second level of the defense in his film because it’s just not fair.

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Hunter Anthony

6-6, 320 | Offensive line | Junior | Tuttle, Oklahoma | Tuttle High School | Oklahoma State

The transfer from Oklahoma State is athletic. He played for the Cowboys as a freshman, but because of injuries and getting passed up in the depth chart, I could not find a lot of tape. Based on what he did early in his career for the Cowboys, I believe he could contend for a tackle spot.

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Kevin Williams

6-5, 330 | Offensive line | Senior | Omaha | North High School | Northern Colorado

The big offensive lineman from Omaha North who ended up at Northern Colorado out of high school is a nice add for this offensive line. He brings a ton of experience at both tackle and guard, but I imagine he’ll play inside at Nebraska. His tape shows some unique athleticism for someone 330 pounds. You see him cut blocking, pulling with ease and even doing a cartwheel after a touchdown. I like the idea of adding Williams and his experience and nastiness to this offensive line. He is a finisher with a play-tothe- echo-of-the-whistle mentality. That’s something I expect to see a lot more of with coach Donovan Raiola in charge.

Justin Evans Jenkins

Justin Evans-Jenkins

6-2, 280 | Offensive line | Freshman | East Orange, New Jersey | Irvington High School

If you like violence on the football field, Evans-Jenkins’ tape is for you. It doesn’t matter which side of the line of scrimmage he is on, he is putting someone on the ground. He is also very quick. That said, his height limits him to the interior of the offensive line but doesn’t limit his ability to block and finish blocks. He played offensive tackle and defensive tackle in high school. Because of his size, you could call him a project, but based on tape, he seems to have most of the tools. He’s got good feet and is strong and nasty.

Brodie Tagaloa

Brodie Tagaloa

6-4, 260 | Defensive line | Freshman | Pittsburg, California | De La Salle High School

Tagaloa has a really interesting build, and we will have to see how he develops in the weight room. At this point, he looks like a defensive end when he is playing tight end and when he’s playing defensive end he looks more like an interior defensive lineman! With the lack of depth at defensive line, you would figure that he would fit best right now on that side of the ball. If he does stay at tight end, between Tagaloa and Chase Androff, NU could set up in some powerful three tight end sets because Tagaloa is a heck of a blocker, both at the point of attack and on the move.

Jake Appleget

Jake Appleget

6-4, 210 | Outside linebacker | Freshman | Lincoln | Southeast High School

Appleget is versatile and can play most anywhere on the second level. I expect him to play on all special teams starting as early as his freshman season. He’s a very good tackler and an outstanding athlete. With his receiving skills, he could play slot as well. However, I expect that he’ll start at inside linebacker, gain weight and go from there.

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Ernest Hausmann

6-3, 205 | Inside linebacker | Freshman | Columbus | Columbus High School

I’m not quite sure what spot Hausmann ends up playing. It could be either inside or outside linebacker. He certainly has raw ability, and I could see him growing into a designated pass-rusher. He can certainly play inside linebacker based on his good instincts, but he is raw. I had a chance to see Hausmann in person, and he really sticks out among others on the field. It seems like he anticipates well what’s about to happen with the play. He enjoys taking on blocks, discarding them and getting to the ball-carrier. I’m not sure how he is in coverage, but watching him play on offense, he appears to have good ball skills. My comp for him is Kwon Alexander, who now plays for the Saints.

Omar Brown

Omar Brown

6-1, 200 | Cornerback | Junior | Minneapolis | North High School | Northern Iowa

Brown is the ultimate ballhawk. Whether you watch his high school or his college tape, if the ball is on the ground or bouncing around in the air and especially when he is high-pointing it in coverage, he has a way of getting his hands on it. He doesn’t look as big as he is listed, and he doesn’t appear to be as long as some of the corners who defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has recruited, but he is physical with receivers on the jam and also when going up for the ball. I think you will also see him quite a bit on special teams. I see why he left Northern Iowa. If you are as good as he has been since his freshman year, you have to try and move up. I won’t be surprised if he contends for one of the starting cornerback spots this season.

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Jaeden Gould

6-2, 190 | Cornerback | Freshman | Somerset, New Jersey | Bergen Catholic High School

Gould is a special player. Combine his size – he looks bigger than his listed numbers – with his ability to find the ball in the air, and he’s far ahead of what you normally see from high school players. Whether at corner in man, at safety or in the slot, he always seems to be able to find the ball in the air. I personally like him at safety because of his ability to hit along with his coverage skills. Several times on tape, he comes up and hits guys with really good technique. He has a lot of former Husker Chris Jones in him. He has long arms, is good in space and can come down and play corner. I don’t know his top-end speed, but I’m not sure it matters. He might be the most complete high school player in this class.

Malcolm Hartzog

Malcolm Hartzog

5-10, 175 | Cornerback | Freshman | Silver Creek, Mississippi | Jefferson Davis County High School

Hartzog is a little guy, but he is fast. His size likely will be an issue playing corner in the Big Ten. He’s a willing tackler, but he will get posted up versus some of the receivers in this league. Maybe he is best suited as a slot corner? He is a fun player to watch on offense and as a returner. You see his ability to manage his way through traffic as a returner. Perhaps he can be a Deonte Harris-type who is always a threat returning kickoffs and punts.

Hill Tommi 1468

Tommi Hill

6-0, 205 | Cornerback | Sophomore | Orlando, Florida | Edgewater High School | Arizona State

Hill is interesting mainly because he has enough experience to contend for immediate time. The secondary is fairly deep with newcomers, so it’s going to be quite the battle. One thing Hill does well is that he’s just naturally long and covers a lot of space. He’s another guy I would expect to see on special teams, especially the coverage teams, early on. I’m not sure you get this level of athlete if not for the problems currently at Arizona State.

Javier Morton

Javier Morton

6-2, 185 | Defensive back | Sophomore | Atlanta | Stephenson High School | Garden City (Kansas) Community College

Morton is a really good-looking athlete and a big one at that. You can watch him moving in space and see why he is perfectly suited to play safety. He plays the ball well in the air, he has good hands and can finish plays in terms of returning it. He’s a solid returner in the kicking game as well. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he seems to have good instincts and gets where he needs to be. I really like the way he can come down and play press coverage as a third corner when necessary. I would guess he plays on all of the special teams quickly.

Jalil Martin

Jalil Martin

6-3, 190 | Safety | Freshman Chicago | Kenwood Academy

Martin is an intriguing player watching him on tape. Based on the way he moves as a receiver, I could see his conversion to defensive back being smooth. I like the way he hits; he’s seriously physical. I can see him adding some weight and moving into that JoJo Domann role. I know Buddha Wright is destined for that spot, but he’s been delayed by injuries. Martin certainly could play that type of role with his size and quickness. He’s definitely one of the most athletic players in this class.

DeShon Singleton
FB Headshots 2022

Deshon Singleton

6-3, 205 | Safety | Sophomore Amite, Louisiana | St. Helena High School | Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College

Another big, good-looking safety. He looks like a Rover. He runs well, covers a lot of space and can tackle.

Gage Stenger

Gage Stenger

6-2, 200 | Athlete | Freshman Omaha | Millard South High School

Stenger is the logical pick as sleeper of this class. One of the things that sticks out – and you see it when he was playing in the secondary, receiver or quarterback – is that he’s a leader. I could see him as someone who guys would gravitate to as both a local player and because he’s a sneaky good athlete. With his size and athleticism, he could possibly grow into that joker position that JoJo Domann played, or you could see him playing as a traditional outside linebacker rushing the passer. Another possibility is that he grows into a tight end.

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