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. 10: Chris Kolarevic, inside linebacker, junior
Among Nebraska’s transfer portal additions for the 2021 class, veteran offensive skill players Samori Toure and Markese Stepp and former five-star prospect and Ohio State defensive back Tyreke Johnson drew significant attention when their commitments happened.
Kolarevic’s late-October pledge flew a little bit under the radar in comparison, but his role in 2021 likely will not take a backseat to any of the others.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker wowed in performance and strength index testing over the winter, then looked like he was pushing for regular playing time even before senior inside linebacker Will Honas was lost to a torn ACL in late April that could sideline him for the entire regular season.
Now Kolarevic looks like a likely starter and at the very least, he’s in line to play a lot in a regular three-man rotation alongside sophomore Luke Reimer and redshirt freshman Nick Henrich.
“He’s a freak of nature, I’ll tell you that,” Henrich said in mid-April. “Super athletic, fast, physical. … He’s also been just outstanding learning the defense and asking us questions. He’s been a great addition to the room.”
Kolarevic was one of the most productive defenders in the Missouri Valley Conference when he was healthy his final two seasons at FCS Northern Iowa, compiling 65 tackles (three for loss) in six games before a foot injury in 2018, then 79 (6.5 for loss) in 10 games after returning from the same injury in 2019.
The Traverse City, Michigan, native verbally committed early enough to watch NU’s final seven games of 2020 knowing he’d be coming to Lincoln, then arrived in January and wasted little time getting up to speed. He committed not knowing if Honas would return for a sixth season, took it in stride when he decided to come back and now looks like a central figure on defense with Honas out for the year.
— Parker Gabriel
Photos: Our favorite staff images from the 2020 Nebraska football season
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.