In just three weeks, the summer arrivals from Nebraska's most recent recruiting class will be getting into town.
One of the major questions from fans always is, "Who in that group can play right away?" It's quite a guessing game, though one of the best ways to go about it is projecting who seems like they might have the body types to contribute on special teams.
Remember, Mike Riley's crew likes to use a lot of linebackers on special teams. While this staff has said there's good use in allowing players to grow through such a special teams role (See Antonio Reed and Tyrin Ferguson last year as a couple good examples) that also doesn't mean they're just going to burn a shirt if they feel those units are already well stocked.
Anyway, let's just resfresh on a few names of incoming Huskers who might be worth keeping an eye on when fall camp rolls around.
* JD Spielman. Gifted returnman at the prep level. One Minnesota high school coach said no one has ever had a better set of highlights than Spielman. Also seems like he could be a dangerous fly sweep guy if you wanted to find parts of the offense a true freshman can pick up quickly enough. He did suffer a knee injury this spring playing lacrosse. It required surgery, but apparently isn't dire enough that he won't be able to roll once August shows up.
* JoJo Domann. Listed as a defensive back on the Husker roster, but has the body type to be a hybrid and also play down in the box if you wanted. Seems the perfect fit for special teams. Mike Riley even had this quote about him earlier this year, "This JoJo Domann is a bullet. He's all over the field making plays."
* Quayshon Alexander. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker has impressive size without even lifting a weight on campus. There will be a lot to pick up in a hurry, but if Nebraska finds itself search for guys with the type of size who could help in a niche role as a rush end, perhaps Alexander could do that too. Greg Simmons and Pernell Jefferson are other new arrival linebackers to keep in mind.
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* Lamar Jackson. The cornerback said last week his mission is to play right away. Playing right way is something he, in fact, told coaches he wanted to do during his recruiting process. "It was like, 'Coach, I know who I am. I got to be on the field.' That's my love for the game. I can't just watch it.'"
Nebraska is going to probably need one or two of those incoming cornerbacks, whether it's Jackson or Marquel Dismuke or Dicaprio Bootle, to step up quickly. There's Chris Jones and Joshua Kalu at corner and then a big opening, with redshirt freshman Eric Lee also trying to make his move this year.
While Jackson comes with the biggest recruiting accolades, you never know how it's going to go once they show up on campus. I remember always writing Ameer Abdullah's name last in stories among the list of incoming running backs in 2011 behind Aaron Green and Braylon Heard. We all know who took the spotlight there.
* Tony Butler. Looks like the prospect out of Cleveland will start out at safety. He hasn't been talked about as much as some other guys, but the 6-2, 195-pound prospect is a determined dude. NU isn't hurting at safety right now, but it'll be interesting if the Huskers want to get Domann or Butler on the field at all this year, even if it's primarily special teams.
Don't sleep on Butler. When he committed, he mentioned in our interview he wasn't going to forget that Michigan State and Ohio State didn't offer him.
"I kind of feel like that was a slap on my face, that I wasn't good enough for those programs," Butler said then. "That's kind of why I wanted to stay in the Big Ten, to show them that I am good enough, and I'm going to show you, going to prove to you on the field, going against your players that you felt were better than me. It's kind of a personal thing. I'm just excited to strap it on and be ready."
Sounds like a guy excited enough that he might already have his bags packed for his trip here in early June.