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Driving for 6: Spring attrition and what the Huskers' roster management numbers tell us
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DRIVING FOR 6

Driving for 6: Spring attrition and what the Huskers' roster management numbers tell us

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Spring Game, 4.13

Nebraska football head coach Scott Frost (center) runs onto the field with his team to start the Red-White Spring Game on April 13 at Memorial Stadium.

Let’s roll into the weekend with a drive and a windshield chat about roster management.

1. Four scholarship players have left the program since spring ball ended. They are punter Caleb Lightbourn, outside linebackers Breon Dixon and Quayshon Alexander and, Friday morning, defensive back Cam’ron Jones.

Rosters are always fluid in college sports, and perhaps never more so than since the NCAA introduced the transfer portal in October. So with the caveat that anything can happen, those four scholarship players are the only ones NU is expecting to leave for now.

The Huskers also have seven walk-ons that aren’t expected to be back — some of those names are known and some aren’t, though none have announced anything publicly so far — making for a total of 11 departures this spring.

2. Those numbers are important because Nebraska had 160 players on its roster during spring ball and then added a verbal commitment from junior college defensive tackle Jahkeem Green (Highland CC) the weekend of the spring game.

NU’s current Title IX situation allows for a maximum roster size that’s somewhere in the low- to mid-150s. The 11 known departures post-spring plus the addition of Green puts the Huskers right at 150.

With two scholarships still available for the 2019 class — we’ll get into those numbers in just a moment — you can see the path to a full fall roster very clearly.

Position Freshman RS Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
QB (4) Logan Smothers Luke McCaffrey* Adrian Martinez
Noah Vedral*
RB (5) Sevion Morrison Ronald Thompkins* Dedrick Mills*
Marvin Scott III Rahmir Johnson*
TE (5) Chris Hickman* Austin Allen* Jack Stoll*
Travis Vokolek*
Kurt Rafdal*
WR (10) Zavier Betts Jamie Nance* Wan'Dale Robinson Jaevon McQuitty* JD Spielman*
Marcus Fleming De'Mariyon Houston Omar Manning*
Will Nixon
Alante Brown
T (10) Turner Corcoran Bryce Benhart* Broc Bando* Brenden Jaimes
Alex Conn Matthew Anderson* Matt Farniok*
Jimmy Fritzsche* Christian Gaylord*^
Brant Banks*
G (5) Michael Lynn* Trent Hixson* Boe Wilson*
Ethan Piper* Matt Sichterman*
C (2) Cameron Jurgens*
Will Farniok*
DE (10) Marquis Black Mosai Newsom* Tate Wildeman* Deontre Thomas* Ben Stille*
Casey Rogers* Jahkeem Green*
Chris Walker*
Jordon Riley*
Pheldarius Payne
DT (3) Nash Hutmacher Ty Robinson* Damion Daniels*
OLB (8) Blaise Gunnerson Jamin Graham* Garrett Nelson Caleb Tannor JoJo Domann*
Jimari Butler David Alston*
Niko Cooper*
ILB (7) Keyshawn Greene Nick Henrich* Eteva Mauga-Clements Collin Miller*
Jackson Hannah* Will Honas*
Garrett Snodgrass*
S (5) Henry Gray Myles Farmer* Marquel Dismuke*
Noa Pola-Gates* Deontai Williams*
CB (8) Jaiden Francois Javin Wright* Braxton Clark* Cam Taylor-Britt Dicaprio Bootle*
Ronald Delancy III Quinton Newsome
Tamon Lynum
ST (1) Barret Pickering (K)*
Class Total 18 21 11 19 14
Overall Total 83
*Player has used redshirt
^Appealing for 6th year

3. Nebraska’s current scholarship count by the Journal Star’s numbers is technically 80. That does not yet include Green — he hasn’t officially signed yet — and does not include running back Wyatt Mazour, the walk-on from Albion who was put on scholarship last year but may or may not be put on scholarship again for the coming season.

So let’s count Green (assuming he eventually signs) and work from 81. Even though there are four spots below the 85-man max, NU only has two potential spots remaining that it can fill in the 2019 cycle via the transfer market.

Remember, the NCAA has a cap at 25 “initial counters” each recruiting cycle. Nebraska was able to roll over five extra spots from 2018, bringing its class maximum to 30. Green’s addition, when he signs, will make 28. Thus, two more spots exist.

Another thing to keep in mind: NU now has only 14 scholarship seniors. The staff would like to be able to take somewhere in the low 20s for a 2020 class it thinks can be special. Four remaining spots under 85 makes 18, though that number will get smaller if the Huskers add underclassman transfers. Then another round of natural attrition over the next year. It all pretty much tracks.

Here’s the TL;DR: Nebraska has two spots left in the 2019 class and the 85-man roster isn’t a hindrance. If you’re wondering what kind of player NU will target with its last two spots, graduate players provide the most flexibility.

4. Since Scott Frost and Company arrived, it’s been interesting to watch how fast they’ve flipped the roster.

Here are some updated numbers: Currently on the roster (155 before walk-on attrition), 99 players (64%) have joined since Frost was hired. Of the 81 scholarship players, 49 are Frost players (60%).

One of the interesting things is it’s not just Riley-era players that have left, illustrated by the recent departures of Dixon and Jones.

In fact, of 20 scholarship players who were officially part of the program and then left NU since July, seven are “Frost” players. Two signed national letters of intent but didn’t qualify and never made it to campus (Willie Canty and Dominick Watt), but they were still part of the scholarship equation, so we’re counting them.

The five others: defensive back Will Jackson, running back Greg Bell, receiver Justin McGriff and now Dixon and Jones.

Overall, the Huskers have welcomed at least 110 players to the program since Frost’s hire. A few of them have since left, but the majority form the core of a young roster.

The Huskers currently show 50 of 81 scholarship players (62%) that will be sophomores or younger in 2019.

5. People often wonder about walk-ons getting put on scholarship. That won’t happen until August, but the Huskers will have room for at least a couple.

Frost said this spring that sophomore offensive lineman Trent Hixson would be among the first to get one at this point, considering he’s currently in line to start at guard. Other candidates — using past or future projected playing time as a guide — at this point: Mazour, receiver Kade Warner, quarterback Andrew Bunch and punter Isaac Armstrong.

6. OK, one quick recruiting note to end it.

The Huskers have serious company in the recruitment of junior college defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey over at Iowa Western Community College.

Alabama offered the 6-foot-5 300-pounder on Friday, joining the Huskers, LSU, Kentucky, Baylor and many others in pursuit.

If the Huskers are to finally get a IWCC connection nailed down — they have a walk-on in Joshua Wegener joining the program this summer, but have not landed a scholarship player from the Council Bluffs school — this would be a heckuva place to start.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Sports writer

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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