It seems like Nebraska football fans are enamored with the possibility of a do-it-all quarterback like Alabama’s Jalen Hurts or Ohio State’s Joe Burrow transferring and coming to Lincoln. Burrow appears to be the fan favorite considering his connections to the program and his immediate eligibility. It’s no lie that he would be an instant injection of talent, but Nebraska’s true needs don’t lie with potential signal-callers.
The fact is that new defensive backs coach Travis Fisher needs depth in the secondary in the worst way. Fortunately for him, there are a few quality potential defensive backs looking for a good home. While head coach Scott Frost and his staff comb over the roster and determine who fits versus those who should look to greener pastures, room should be considered for at least one of the following defensive backs:
Kemah Siverand, CB, Texas A&M
A four-star prospect per 247Sports and an Under Armour All-American, Siverand was actually considered the nation’s No. 31-ranked wide receiver in a 2015 class that included Calvin Ridley, Equanimeous St. Brown and D.J. Moore, each of whom were taken in the 2018 NFL Draft.
He made the move to defensive back in 2017 as there was already a logjam at wide receiver, a situation that probably wasn’t going to improve either as the Aggies were in on a number of highly-rated prospects for their next two recruiting classes.
Texas A&M found itself with issues similar to Nebraska’s current secondary woes back in 2016 after losing both starting cornerbacks. As a result, the Aggies gave up 250 passing yards per game, a mark that put them ahead of just 31 other FBS teams. Siverand does have decent size (6-1, 200) for a cornerback, but he struggled making the transition, as he finished with just six tackles (four solo) in 11 games last season.
The Cornhuskers already have true freshman Cam’Ron Jones, a four-star prospect from Mansfield, Texas, in the fold but the possibility of adding another Houston-area native in Siverand could be worth exploring.
Nick Watkins, CB, Notre Dame
The No. 17 cornerback in the class of 2014 per 247Sports, Watkins had his pick of schools including Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
He ended up signing with Notre Dame but recently announced via Twitter that he would finish his college career elsewhere. As of this writing, a May graduation looks likely with his school selection and transfer coming shortly thereafter.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback showed plenty of potential in 2015 before suffering an injury prior to that season’s Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. He opened 2017 as a starter and seemed to adapt well to then-defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s system, but as the season progressed he lost playing time to Troy Pride Jr., a sophomore who appeared to take to the position more smoothly. Watkins finished the season with 27 tackles (21 solo), eight pass breakups and an interception while playing in 12 games (nine starts).
His departure from Notre Dame is actually best for all parties involved. He needs a change in scenery and the Irish are in the process of trimming their roster of scholarship players. With Nebraska’s immediate need for depth in the secondary, this could be a match made in heaven.
Rodney Williams, S, Syracuse
Williams is an extremely interesting option. A three-star prospect from the class of 2014 per 247Sports, the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, native accumulated 125 tackles and two interceptions over three seasons with the Orange. In total, he played in 33 games and made 21 starts.
Syracuse’s pass defense left much to be desired in 2017, as the Orange surrendered 247 yards per game through the air to rank 97th in the FBS. That was an improvement, however, over the 276.1 passing yards per game allowed in 2016 (118th).
Williams did play quite a bit at safety at Syracuse, a position the Nebraska coaching staff has already added true freshmen Cam’ron Jones, C.J. Smith and Cam Taylor, as well as junior college transfer Deontai Williams to the roster.
However, Williams has shown versatility and could easily make an impact at cornerback as well.