In the off-season, Frost & Company signed a total of 15 players for Nebraska football via the transfer portal. Players were added to the offensive line, quarterback room, wide receiver room, defensive line, secondary and special teams. But the linebacker room didn't take any transfers.
How can that be? The Huskers lost 10 linebackers in the off-season (including JoJo Domann), so why didn't Nebraska get some transfers to fill those holes?
Maybe the two linebacker coaches ,Mike Dawson (OLB) and Barrett Ruud (ILB), feel the Huskers already were well stocked.
Let's look at some of the players who left the program in '22.
Perhaps the player whose shoes will be the hardest to fill is JoJo Domann. Last year, he was an AP second-team All-American. He played in 10 games and had 72 tackles, nine TFLs, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and three pass breakups. Domann signed with the Indianapolis Colts after his super-senior season in '21.
Others who left the program include Pheldarius Payne (transferred to Virginia Tech), Will Honas (Kansas State), Wynden Ho'ohuli (Hawaii), Jackson Hannah (Tennessee) and Damian Jackson (Buffalo). With those losses, it would be understandable if Nebraska looked for some replacements.
So why not get some transfers? Maybe there is enough talent already on campus. I believe that is true. The linebacker cupboard is not bare - not by a long shot.
In fact, Dawson and Ruud probably sleep very well at night knowing their LB room could be one of the strengths of the team this fall.
Returning this fall for Nebraska is perhaps the alpha male of the group, Garrett Nelson. Last year, he played in all 12 games and registered 57 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and five sacks. Nelson has started 20 consecutive games for the Huskers. At 6-3, 245, this junior is a one-man wrecking crew.
Caleb Tannor is another capable player who played in all 12 games. At 6-3, 225, this senior had 12 tackles, two TFLs and two sacks. Simon Otte is another experienced player who will vie for playing time this fall. And John Bullock returns as a key contributor on special teams.
The inside group appears to be well stocked this fall. The leader of the pack just might be Luke Reimer. At 6-1, 225, Luke was a force last year. He started all 12 games and recorded 108 tackles, six TFLs, one sack, six pass breakups and one INT.
Sophomore Nick Henrich played in all 12 games and had 99 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. Chris Kolarevic played in every game and had 27 tackles and one TFL.
Look for Eteva Mauga-Clements (who played in all 12 games last year) to contribute again this fall.
Garrett Snodgrass and Grant Tagge will also compete for playing time. Also, don't be surprised if some new players emerge this fall. Redshirt freshmen Jimari Butler and Blaise Gunnerson may contribute. True freshman Ernest Hausmann may also see some playing time.
For now, the linebacking crew seems stocked with very capable players. The season opener in Dublin, Ireland, is fast approaching. Let's hope Dawson and Ruud continue to sleep well at night.
In last week's column about the Husker defensive line, I incorrectly listed Tate Wildeman as still being on the Husker roster. Tate left the program in April. Sorry for the error.
How ’Bout Them Huskers
This week, grandson Will and I discuss in depth the Husker linebacker room. We also talk about the suspension of offensive lineman Noredin Nouili and the recent commitment of edge rusher Maverick Noonan. Don't miss this episode!