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Spring setup: Huskers like budding WR depth, but who (and how many) will emerge?
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Spring setup: Huskers like budding WR depth, but who (and how many) will emerge?

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Nebraska vs. Purdue, 12.5

Nebraska's Zavier Betts hauls in pass against Purdue on Dec. 5, 2020, in West Lafayette, Ind.

Steven M. Sipple and Parker Gabriel scramble a late Friday podcast to revisit the news of the day: That Nebraska considered backing out of a Sept. 18 game at Oklahoma -- AD Bill Moos said NU explored the option of playing an eighth home game because of COVID-19's steep financial toll -- but ultimately ended up where it started. The Huskers and Sooners will play this fall. That's great. The rest is less simple. 

As the March 30 start of spring football draws nearer for Nebraska, the Journal Star is taking a brief look at each position on the roster and where the Huskers stand. This week continues with Matt Lubick’s wide receivers room.

Monday: Offensive line

Tuesday: Tight end

Wednesday: Running back

Today: Wide receiver

Friday: Quarterback

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Saturday: Offensive two-deep projection

Returning scholarship players: Junior Omar Manning; redshirt freshmen Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston; freshmen Zavier Betts, Alante Brown and Will Nixon.

New this spring: Senior Samori Toure.

Walk-ons to watch: Senior Levi Falck, junior Oliver Martin and sophomore Wyatt Liewer.

Veteran presence: Like running back, there’s not a ton of veteran presence in this group. Toure is the elder statesman, though he just arrived on campus as a graduate transfer this spring. Everybody else on this list either contributed for the first time in 2020 or is attempting to break through.

Spring storyline

For the third straight season, Nebraska will be tasked with replacing its leading receiver. Not only must the Huskers figure out how to fill the hole that Wan’Dale Robinson left (54.8% of catches among NU’s wide receivers) when he transferred to Kentucky, but the group must be more productive than it has been either of the past two seasons.

The overhaul likely begins with an intriguing trio of Toure, Betts and Manning, all long, rangy receivers, and also includes Falck and Martin, a pair of walk-ons who could well be scholarship players by the time their second seasons in Lincoln begin this fall.

Brown and Nixon are the best candidates to play Robinson’s role in the slot and both are promising young players — Nixon missed 2020 with a knee injury — but neither will likely command the dominating target share Robinson had.

Three more freshmen also join the fold this summer in Latrell Neville, Shawn Hardy and Kamonte Grimes. 

Frost in February called this receiver corps "far and away the deepest and most talented group we've had." It's certainly not the most experienced, so spring will go a long way in determining the pecking order. 

— Parker Gabriel

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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