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

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

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

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