As Nebraska spring football approaches, Husker Extra is counting down the 25 most intriguing players expected to participate. Will Honas, linebacker, junior
Before Honas ever puts on a Nebraska helmet, we already know this: He isn't in Lincoln to watch from the sideline this season.
In his own understated manner, he's made that clear.
What's not understated about Honas is the fact he was the nation's top-ranked junior college inside linebacker by 247Sports in 2017-18.
That intriguing enough for you?
Thing is, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Honas may encounter ample competition for playing time. Nebraska has senior Dedrick Young, junior Mohamed Barry and young guns Avery Roberts, Pernell Jefferson and Andrew Ward. But everyone usually has a clean slate with a new coaching staff, and Husker linebackers didn't exactly dominate last season.
Bring on the competition. That's Honas' attitude. He has proved himself to be resilient. After all, he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the first game of his senior season in 2015 at Bishop Carroll High in Wichita, Kansas, and recruiting interest from Power Five programs waned considerably.
So, he headed to Butler (Kansas) Community College on a mission to land a Power Five scholarship, and during a big sophomore season, his phone started buzzing again.
Asked why he chose Nebraska over finalists Iowa, Wisconsin and Kansas State, Honas immediately mentions Barrett Ruud, the Huskers' inside linebackers coach who happens to be the school's all-time tackles leader.
Make no mistake, Honas was a significant recruiting score for Ruud, who is in the early stages of what likely will become an excellent coaching career.
In addition to playing for Ruud, Honas likes the idea of playing in the Big Ten.
"I mean, I think I can play in any conference," he said. "But I'm kind of a physical player. So I think the Big Ten style fits me."
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 25 Tyjon Lindsey
The game-breaking ability that made Tyjon Lindsey a top-50 recruit and flashed in fall camp last year did not materialize in games. The question, of course, is whether the wide receiver can take a big step in his second season.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 24: Chris Walker
Part of the intrigue with Chris Walker (center) is what position the redshirt freshman will play. Although he practiced as an offensive lineman last season, he has said that he would gladly play defense.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 23: Devine Ozigbo
Devine Ozigbo has cut some weight and looks good in spring ball, according to Nebraska coaches. Ozigbo told reporters Saturday that his goal is to win the starting running back job in his senior year.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 22: Mohamed Barry
The intriguing part of Mohamed Barry’s (7) situation — and that of several other linebackers — is how the coaching staff feels about the skill-set fits across the board.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 21: Barret Pickering
The intrigue here is all about expectation and pressure. The expectation is that Garret Pickering, a January enrollee, will be Nebraska’s primary place-kicker this fall.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 20: Jaevon McQuitty
Jaevon McQuitty (4) definitely had entered the conversation for playing time as a true freshman last August before suffering a season-ending knee injury 10 practices into preseason drills.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 19: Antonio Reed
Antonio Reed's size and athleticism could make him a valuable defender for a coaching staff that likes to be creative with personnel.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 18: Collin Miller
Collin Miller finished with a modest 11 tackles, but showed some suddenness off the edge, especially after veteran Luke Gifford was injured. And at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Miller would seem to have some versatility.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 17: Deontai Williams
Deontai Williams says he can play either safety or corner and thinks the coaching staff has plans to try him at both. Both are positions of need for Nebraska.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 16: Dedrick Young
You wonder what goes through Dedrick Young's mind as spring practice nears. If every player is basically starting from scratch with a new coaching staff, how much does all his experience really mean?
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 15: Damion Daniels
Damion Daniels, listed at 6-foot-2 and 310 pounds, will compete for a role along a defensive line that returns as much experience as any position group on Nebraska’s roster.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 14: Ben Stille
Ben Stille (95) finished the season with team-leading totals of 3½ sacks and 10 tackles for loss, but he plays a position (outside linebacker) where he'll have to continue to play well in order to retain a leading role.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 13: Boe Wilson
Boe Wilson, the redshirt sophomore from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, always seemed to be on the verge of cracking the lineup in 2017, but never broke through and started.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 12: Guy Thomas
If first-year Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is looking for explosive athletes, perhaps he'll look Guy Thomas' way.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 11: Jaylin Bradley
Jaylin Bradley tantalized when he finally got an opportunity in October, compiling 73 yards on 10 touches against Purdue and showing make-miss ability from a backfield otherwise bereft of open-field juice.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 10 Brenden Jaimes
Brenden Jaimes (76, left) is regarded as a leading candidate to replace Nick Gates, and one of Nebraska's issues in 2018 is there aren't many other viable candidates at tackle.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 9: Stanley Morgan
Stanley Morgan is the top returning wide receiver in the Big Ten statistically and one of the most productive returning pass-catchers and may be used even more heavily in Nebraska’s new offense.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 8: Will Honas
Before Will Honas ever puts on a Nebraska helmet, we already know this: He isn't in Lincoln to watch from the sideline this season.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 7: Lamar Jackson
Nebraska junior cornerback Lamar Jackson said Tuesday after practice that he added 8 pounds of muscle and dropped fat over winter conditioning and that he's excited to play in a fast, physical defense.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 6: JD Spielman
Nebraska wide receiver JD Spielman (10) just kept producing last season, finishing as Nebraska's second-leading receiver while operating mostly out of the slot.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 5: Tre Bryant
Much of the intrigue about running back Tre Bryant (18) can be traced to a simple question: Will he be available to play in 2018?
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 4: Greg Bell
Nebraska did not bring Greg Bell to Lincoln to have the Arizona Western Junior College transfer watch from the sideline.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 3: Patrick O’Brien
Nebraska’s got a three-way race for its starting job and if it ain’t intriguing, then what is? One of them has to go first, so we begin with redshirt sophomore Patrick O'Brien from San Juan Capistrano, California.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 2: Adrian Martinez
For the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Adrian Martinez, the competition obviously ramps up several notches now that he's in a full-blown competition for the starting job at Nebraska.
Most Intriguing Huskers: No. 1: Tristan Gebbia
When it comes down to it, Tristan Gebbia gets the nod over fellow QBs Patrick O'Brien (No. 3) and Adrian Martinez (No. 2) was partially because Gebbia remains a bit of an unknown — which adds to the intrigue.
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