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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 23, junior WR Oliver Martin
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Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 23, junior WR Oliver Martin

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Nebraska football practice, 4.17

Nebraska wide receiver Oliver Martin (left) catches a pass while being pursued by cornerback Quinton Newsome during a practice at Memorial Stadium on April 17.

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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

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

No. 25: Myles Farmer, safety, redshirt freshman 

No. 24: Casey Rogers, defensive lineman, sophomore

No. 23: WR Oliver Martin, jr. 

Martin got to campus last summer, had to get acclimated to Nebraska’s program in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and didn’t even find out he was eligible to play until the middle of NU’s shortened season.

He still managed to start four games and, even with a modest five catches down the stretch, make a favorable mark in 2020.

Then he really burst into the conversation during winter conditioning and spring ball.

Martin, a former four-star recruit from Iowa City, Iowa, who began his career at Michigan and spent 2019 at Iowa, was among Nebraska’s best index testers and then put forth a standout spring.

“We do one-on-ones just about every day and I don’t think he’s lost a rep of that,” fellow receiver Wyatt Liewer said midway through spring. “He looks really good.”

Martin credited the time he had over the winter and the spring to get a firm grasp of the playbook. In the Red-White Spring Game on May 1, he was part of a potentially very interesting trio of wide receivers alongside senior transfer Samori Toure and junior Omar Manning.

He perhaps doesn’t draw the same kind of conversation as either of those two — Toure drew rave reviews this spring immediately upon his arrival from Montana and Manning has tantalizing physical talent, but only played in one game in 2020 — but Martin will be every bit as important offensively for a Nebraska team that desperately needs to be more dangerous in the passing game, particularly down the field.

Martin will likely earn a scholarship now that he's been on campus for a year. His rise is not exactly the out-of-nowhere type, given that he was an All-American Bowl selection as a senior in high school and finished as the No. 47 player overall in the country for the 2017 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

Parker Gabriel

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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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