With 2019’s early signing period behind them, Nebraska’s coaching staff has three options when it comes to recruiting. They can pick and choose from the missed prospects and those holding off to sign until February, continue efforts for the 2021 class or look to the transfer portal.
Scott Frost has already shown he’s open to transfers with the likes of wide receiver Kanawai Noa having been brought in from California prior to last season. While Noa didn’t ball out in 2019, the Huskers are always looking for potential immediate impact players via the portal.
Fortunately for them, four stand out as current options that provide them with a change of scenery and what would be added benefits for the Big Red.
Justin Shorter, WR, Penn State
A former five-star prospect from Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, injury limited Shorter to participate in only four games of the 2018 season. However, then-quarterback Trace McSorley called him one of the most improved players during the Nittany Lions’ pre-bowl game practices.
The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder would provide Nebraska with yet another towering wide receiver in the mold of junior college signee Omar Manning. Transferring within conference means he likely would sit out a year much like current Husker tight end and former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Travis Vokolek did.
This means that barring an immediate playing time waiver — not an impossibility — he’d be able to train in the Huskers’ system and get familiar with the culture. While sitting out wouldn’t be ideal, Nebraska probably files two waivers. One for immediate playing time and another for a medical redshirt as a result of his true freshman season being cut short.
Brian Hightower, WR, Miami
Why stop at raiding the Miami area for high school recruits? Nebraska signed three players off of that radar last Wednesday in wide receiver Marcus Fleming, cornerback Ronald Delancy III, and safety Henry Gray. They also picked up Jaiden Francois, a safety that the Hurricanes clearly coveted.
Following a 3-4 start to Miami’s season, Hightower’s name quickly found itself in the transfer portal. The surface of his abilities has only been scratched and his talent and potential were both on display during the Hurricanes’ 33-17 loss to LSU in 2018. He was able to scorch the Tigers for a 32-yard touchdown grab.
A former IMG Academy standout and four-star recruit, Hightower (6-2, 202) isn’t quite the stature of Manning or Shorter but does provide the Huskers with a potential outside threat. The Big Red has done an excellent job of bringing in speedy smaller receivers but adding Hightower to the mix gives them another big target.
Plus, unlike Shorter, there’d be no in-conference transfer rule for him to adhere to.
Issac Walker, DT, UCF
Walker wasn’t around to bask in Frost’s glow during his days as the Knights’ head coach, but Nebraska does offer him a new opportunity. The big man would thrive at nose tackle in Erik Chinander’s system given his size (6-4, 350).
The Huskers are looking to replace the void left by Darrion Daniels, who made an impact both on and off the field in his lone year at Nebraska after having been voted a captain. Walker has yet to see action, but adding him to the mix in Lincoln only helps build depth alongside Damion Daniels and others.
Robert Beal, OLB, Georgia
You don’t get targeted to be a part of Kirby Smart’s defense if you’re too much of a scrub. The former four-star prospect would be walking into an ideal situation in Lincoln, as while Nebraska did sign a bevy of outside linebacker prospects, how the depth chart shakes out is a mystery.
There’d be an understandable level of scrutiny with Beal’s addition as he was arrested on misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana. However, despite already having a strike against him, Beal (6-4, 240) would give the Huskers another Big Ten-worthy ‘backer.
While he isn’t a long-time SEC veteran, his experience going up against what Georgia provides should also serve him well.