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Nebraska opens spring football March 4 and is set for a five-week session before the Red-White Spring Game on April 13 at Memorial Stadium. In the days before spring ball starts, the Journal Star is previewing each position group. We continue with receivers.

Nebraska vs. Northwestern, 10/13/18

Nebraska's JD Spielman catches a pass from Adrian Martinez for a touchdown against Northwestern during the first quarter Oct. 13 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. Spielman will likely be counted on heavily this season with Stanley Morgan gone.

Departed players: Stanley Morgan, Bryan Reimers, Justin McGriff.

Returning players: JD Spielman, Kade Warner, Mike Williams, Jaron Woodyard, Jaevon McQuitty, Andre Hunt, Jack Stoll, Kurt Rafdal, Austin Allen, Katerian Legrone.

Incoming players: Wandale Robinson, Darien Chase, Jamie Nance, Demariyon Houston, Chris Hickman.

Walk-ons to watch: Wyatt Liewer, Bennett Folkers.

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2018 stats: Spielman (10 starts) 66 catches for 818 yards and eight touchdowns; Stoll (12 starts) 21-245-3; Warner (seven) 17-95; Williams (two) 12-122; Rafdal 4-67; Allen 2-54; Woodyard 1-10.

Overview: Nebraska obviously must move forward without gifted wide receiver Stanley Morgan, who produced team-leading totals of 70 catches for 1,004 yards last season. He was the team's best vertical threat. That part won't be easy to replicate.

Meanwhile, Spielman, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound junior, apparently is recovered from a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him for the final two games last season. In fact, Spielman was close to being ready for the season-ending Iowa game, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said earlier this month.

Spielman could be leaned on heavily in Morgan's absence.

"Hopefully some of these young kids we brought in can help fill the gap, and there are some guys already on campus I'm expecting to make huge jumps this year," Frost said. "A lot of times in the first year in a system, some kids don't quite flourish and they make a huge jump in year two. But there are a bunch of guys already on the roster — from McQuitty to Woody (Woodyard) to Mike (Williams) to Andre Hunt, even some walk-ons like Wyatt and Folkers. There are a bunch of guys who I think could take a step forward and help us."

He's looking for guys to fill spots in all those three- and four-receiver sets. Along those lines, Robinson, a true freshman from Frankfort, Kentucky, will no doubt get a long look from coaches this spring. The 5-9, 175-pound Robinson, an early enrollee, totaled 8,582 yards from scrimmage with 118 touchdowns during an illustrious high school career.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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