Nebraska Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Cornhuskers

Scott Frost is hoping these additions to the roster can help the Huskers take another step forward this fall

After a less than enthusiastic start to the Scott Frost era in Lincoln, while Nebraska fans are anticipating improvement, the expectations that were stoked prior to 2019 have died down quite a bit. Still, Frost's offense has shown plenty of potential for entertainment and even more pieces of that puzzle were added in the most recent recruiting class.

 

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also had some of his needs addressed as he looks to replace the entire front three and solidify a major weakness at outside linebacker. While development and on-the-field success haven't been what the Big Red faithful have been looking for, recruiting continues to be a high point. As a result, Frost's third year provides at least a handful of players who could end up contributing in a big way early on.

 

Sevion Morrison, RB

Nebraska already has a starter in Dedrick Mills but with the dismissal of Maurice Washington, the Huskers do need to find both depth and the change of pace Frost enjoys at the position. While Wan'Dale Robinson will no doubt continue to be a threat both as a runner and receiver, he shouldn't be taking the place of a proper No. 2 back.

 

Enter Morrison. The running back position lends itself best to plug-and-play athletes like the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. Having broken former Oklahoma Sooner and San Francisco 49er Spencer Tillman's all-time rushing record at Edison High School, the highly-decorated back gives Frost a talent that appears game ready and eager to make the most of his early carries.

 

Omar Manning, WR

With JD Spielman and Robinson as probable 2020 starters, we find a third in Manning. The junior college transfer was ranked not only the best receiver at that level by 247Sports, but the second-best prospect overall. He brings size (6-4, 225) and physicality to the position that Nebraska hasn't had in quite some time.

 

A second-team junior college All-American in 2019, Manning provides incoming offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick with more than just size. Nebraska struggled to find wideouts that effectively engaged their blocks on a regular basis outside of Kade Warner. The former TCU Horned Frog gives the Big Red a forceful presence to help make way for Frost's ground game.

 

Turner Corcoran, OL

Some of Adrian Martinez's sophomore struggles can be traced back to frequent breakdowns along the offensive line. With a center playing the position for the first time in his career and a pair of guards that had major difficulty at times, it only increased the degree of difficulty for Martinez, who had his own struggles with the playbook and the mental aspects of his position. Fortunately, Corcoran's addition signals a step in the right direction.

 

It's possible we see him contend for one of the starting interior spots. While he has the frame of an offensive tackle (6-6, 280 pounds), he performed admirably during the All-American Bowl at the left guard position. This is a spot that a player like Broc Bando has ample opportunity to lock down this spring, but at the very least, the massive Kansan should be able to provide quality depth.

 

Blaise Gunnerson, OLB

There's no more wide-open competition for Nebraska this offseason than at the outside linebacker spots. Gunnerson was an absolute must-get for the Huskers as his inclusion in the most recent recruiting crop not only gives them an enormous presence on the edge but also keeps his talents out of the hands of fellow Big Ten West division rivals.

 

While he will have to compete with both established talents and junior college transfers for playing time, Gunnerson's size (6-6, 250) is certainly appealing. It may suit returning defensive assistant Mike Dawson well to prepare the young gun this spring for an eventual showdown in fall camp with Niko Cooper. The winner of that battle would give the Blackshirts a presence they haven't had on the outside in a while.

 

Jaiden Francois, CB

Lamar Jackson's departure means a reshuffle at the cornerback position. Dicaprio Bootle showed some regression last season as teams were frequently able to pick on him. A spring position battle we might eventually see as a result features Bootle looking for a return to form versus one of the Class of 2020's best in Francois.

 

The Florida native has plenty of competition already on campus from the likes of Quinton Newsome, Braxton Clark, and Javin Wright. However, keep in mind that Chinander might opt to have Cam Taylor-Britt play at the nickel position, something he did incredibly well last season. Such a development only opens the door more for the talented true freshman to stake a claim to playing time.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and enjoy the Big Red Three and Out Podcast. To contact him, click here.

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