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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 21, freshman QB Heinrich Haarberg
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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 21, freshman QB Heinrich Haarberg

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Red-White Spring Game 5.1

Nebraska quarterback Heinrich Haarberg throws the ball downfield during the second quarter of the Red-White Spring Game on May 1 at Memorial Stadium.

Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett gather to discuss the latest in Nebraska's search for an athletic director and the two weeks since Bill Moos departed NU. Before that, though, the guys talk through a newsy stretch.

As the countdown to the beginning of Nebraska’s preseason camp continues, the Journal Star is counting down its annual list of the 30 Most Intriguing Huskers.

The list, as always, is not about the 30 best players or the 30 most important players, but is based instead purely on intrigue. We’ll cover breakout candidates, new faces, old heads and more. The list tends to skew toward youth and inexperience because, well, those types of players are intriguing. But there are more than a few regulars, too.

No. 30: Thomas Fidone, tight end, freshman

No. 29: Will Nixon, wide receiver, freshman

No. 28: Noa Pola-Gates, defensive back, redshirt freshman

No. 27: Sevion Morrison, running back, freshman

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No. 26: Bryce Benhart, right tackle, redshirt freshman

No. 25: Myles Farmer, safety, redshirt freshman 

No. 24: Casey Rogers, defensive lineman, sophomore

No. 23: Oliver Martin, wide receiver, junior 

No. 22: Nash Hutmacher, defensive lineman, freshman

No. 21: QB Heinrich Haarberg, fr.

The entry could realistically be split between Haarberg and Logan Smothers, the freshman pair tasked with getting into game-ready form fast enough to step in should anything happen to junior Adrian Martinez this fall.

Haarberg, a 6-foot-5 freshman from Kearney Catholic who just arrived on campus in January, captured the attention of NU coaches throughout the spring and then Husker fans during the Red-White Spring Game on May 1.

His game needs a lot of refining but coach Scott Frost made it clear what he and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco think of Haarberg’s natural ability. He  has a big arm, he can run and Frost said he made some throws in the spring where “everybody kind of turned and looked at each other.”

Verduzco, too, is adamant that the mechanical work Smothers has done is going to take root and allow the 2020 freshman to unlock what the staff believes is quality arm strength.

Frost decided Nebraska didn’t need to shop for a quarterback in the transfer portal because of how the young pair performed this spring. The Huskers are convinced one or both will be ready to go by the fall. Smothers is the smoother operator of the offense and Haarberg has the tantalizing tool kit.

Remember, Frost and Verduzco didn’t get to see Haarberg throw in person at all before offering him a scholarship or before he signed with NU because of the coronavirus pandemic and long NCAA recruiting dead period. It’s safe to say they were happy with the first impression this spring. Not only that, but Haarberg is already pushing 215-220 pounds after arriving on campus at about 200.

If Haarberg, who was preparing for a Class C-1 season a year ago at this time, can make strides in his command of the offense, he’s going to make the next-man-up conversation behind Martinez very intriguing indeed.

Parker Gabriel

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What did we learn from the Huskers' spring? What about the things we still need to find out? Plus, a look at "stock-risers" and more.

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The series continues with offense this week. No better place to start than quarterback, right?

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NU's safeties benefited from the extra year of eligibility, as Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams both return for sixth seasons.

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Cam Taylor-Britt has ascended into a face-of-the-program type player and perhaps the best player on the roster. But is there enough depth?

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Luke Reimer, Chris Kolarevic and Nick Henrich are a strong trio at the top. But this is the Big Ten. Who can be the fourth man? The fifth? 

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You followed along all spring. Who's your standout player from the outside linebacker group? How about the "stock-riser?" Compare notes with us.

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Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said he has at least six players he can trust and potentially seven, but it’s unclear if any of NU’s next wave of players will crack the rotation this fall.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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