Practice report, March 11: Stanley Morgan and De'Mornay Pierson-El cruising along, but Mike Riley seeks help at receiver

Nebraska conducted its fourth practice of the spring on Saturday.

Nebraska is working on addressing its depth at receiver, but head coach Mike Riley had praise for returnees Stanley Morgan and De’Mornay Pierson-El after the Huskers completed their fourth spring practice on Saturday.

A few notes from the practice, which included some head-to-head work inside the Hawks Center between the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense.

>> Riley on his top two returning receivers: “Stanley and De’Mornay both look at the top of their game to me. Stanley really looks good and confident. He’s like the veteran player out there. De’Mornay looks physically the best I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. So that’s a good picture.”

>> Outside of Morgan and Pierson-El, NU really only has Bryan Reimers and Gabe Rahn as returnees with experience. “The other guys, there’s a lot of upside but they’re not ready for prime time yet,” Riley said.

>> Nebraska had touted recruits Jaevon McQuitty and Keyshawn Johnson Jr. come as January enrollees, but McQuitty is limited in spring practices coming off shoulder surgery and Johnson is only watching as he comes off a long illness.

Riley said there is value in them watching and being involved, but added: “I don’t think they graduated early to come here and watch spring ball.”

>> One player making a name for himself is walk-on I-back Wyatt Mazour, a former record-breaking quarterback at Boone Central who is from Albion, Nebraska. Mazour made hay with a couple catches in the flat, showing his speed and shiftiness.

“He’s Danny Woodhead,” Riley said, smiling. “That’s what I keep thinking when I watch Wyatt.”

Riley said he coached Woodhead in the Hula Bowl after his final season at Chadron State. Of Mazour, he said there was some thought to using the 5-foot-9, 195-pound sophomore on kickoff returns last season before he was sidelined with a head injury.

>> Outside linebacker Luke Gifford was wearing a club on his left hand to protect a broken bone he suffered this week. Gifford was with the No. 1 defense in place of Marcus Newby, who was gone Saturday after Riley said Newby became a father on Friday.

>> Nebraska is splitting its special teams coaching assignments between its assistants. For example, Trent Bray is leading the punt team, John Parrella is in charge of field goal block, etc. Riley said first-year defensive coordinator Bob Diaco came to him before spring practice and said he wanted to work with punter Caleb Lightbourn.

Bruce Read served as the Huskers’ special teams coordinator the last two years but was let go after the 2016 season.

>> Quarterbacks Tanner Lee and Patrick O’Brien looked efficient Saturday, and Riley noted their work afterwards. “It’s been a really good week,” he said.

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