Nebraska’s quartet of freshman defensive backs are going to get their chances early on in their college careers.
"All four of those guys are guys I'm ready to throw in the fire right away," secondary coach Travis Fisher said Tuesday evening on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program. "… Those kids are so athletic and they have the size already. They just have to get in the weight room a little bit, get around the team. They're in here watching film, they're learning the playbook, they're great teammates already and I have a room that's changed so much where I have guys to help them."
Those four, of course, are Noa Pola-Gates, Javin Wright, Myles Farmer and Quinton Newsome.
The first two are from Arizona, the latter pair from Georgia. Fisher said Wright and Newsome will start off their careers at corner while Farmer and Pola-Gates will begin at safety. Fisher’s got plenty in mind for all four, even though he’s got a good number of contributors returning from a 2018 unit that improved substantially as the year proceeded.
Start with Pola-Gates, the 5-foot-11 four-star player and All-American Bowl participant who is the smallest of the bunch (though he’s certainly not tiny) and also the highest-rated.
“He’s a freak,” Fisher said. “You can put him all over the field. I can put him at corner, I can put him at nickel, I can put him at safety. He's a very athletic kid. He can get from in between the hashes to the sideline on deep throws. He can get over the top of the corner. He has that speed and he will strike you.”
Farmer is the most physically developed of the three and is an imposing 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. Even before spring ball started, Fisher raved about Farmer’s athleticism and pointed out that he would be the biggest safety in the room the day he arrived on campus. Frost earlier this year called Farmer a candidate to be the most under-rated member of NU’s 2019 class.
“He looks like he’s been in college three years already,” Fisher said of Farmer. "He's a natural safety."
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Wright is listed at 6-4 and at Sunday’s Husker Road Race did not look out of place standing among a group of linebackers. Even so, he will join a cornerbacks group that also features 6-3 redshirt freshman Braxton Clark and 6-2 senior Lamar Jackson along with 5-11 junior Dicaprio Bootle.
Clark missed nearly all of the spring due to a shoulder injury, but has apparently put on some good weight as the offseason has progressed.
* Fisher said it's difficult to figure out where to play sophomore Cam Taylor, but that decision making process is a "good hard."
"Cam Taylor is the versatile one in the room that can play safety, that can play corner, that can play nickel," Fisher said. "… You don't know where you're going to put him, but you know you're going to put him somewhere."
* Fisher said junior Marquel Dismuke has turned a 180 from last year.
"Marquel was probably in the Antonio Reed category as far as you just don't know if you want him in the room completely," Fisher said. "You hope you can help them but you don't know if they want to help themselves. But Marquel ended up turning the page completely once those guys left and that's when I started to notice it and he's been nothing but great."