Scott Frost tells the story that when he arrived at Nebraska in December 2017, he and his staff inherited just four scholarship receivers. They prefer to carry 10 or 11.
After Monday’s announcement involving JD Spielman and Jaevon McQuitty, the Huskers again stand at just four scholarship receivers — at least for now — with spring practices set to begin next week.
“That’s one position where we need to improve,” Frost said on signing day in December. “... I think we’ve got a lot of young receivers in the program that we’re excited to work with in spring.”
The quartet on hand includes 2019 recruits Wan’Dale Robinson, Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston along with 2020 early enrollee Alante Brown. Another 2019 recruit, Omaha Burke grad Chris Hickman, could also move permanently from tight end to receiver.
Robinson is the only member of the group with significant experience. He caught 40 passes for 453 yards and two touchdowns last year, but also spent much of the fall filling in at running back (88 carries for 340 yards). Nance appeared in one game last year and Hickman played in four as both redshirted.
Junior walk-on Kade Warner will also be in the mix after he caught eight passes for 101 yards in a seven-game season cut short by injuries.
In all, the Huskers have two receivers this spring who have caught passes as Huskers, not counting running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks. Those are Robinson (40) and Warner (25).
Reinforcements will come this summer as part of a receiver recruiting class Rivals ranked No. 3 in the country. Junior college transfer Omar Manning is the headliner, followed by Bellevue West’s Zavier Betts, whom the service ranks the No. 12 receiver nationally. NU also brings in Marcus Fleming (No. 49) and Will Nixon (No. 99).
“(Receiver) was a position just by numbers that we had to rebuild,” Frost said in December. “We feel good about this class and where it’s going to take us.”
Monday’s announcement continues a frenzied offseason churn at the position. Nebraska and offensive coordinator/receivers coach Troy Walters parted ways, and the school hired Matt Lubick for the same job in mid-January.
Meanwhile, three scholarship receivers transferred in Jaron Woodyard, Miles Jones and Darien Chase. Mike Williams and Kanawai Noa saw their eligibility expire. Even running back Maurice Washington, who caught 36 passes for 383 yards in 18 career games and could split out wide, was removed from the team last fall.
Now McQuitty, a 2017 signee, is retiring from football. Spielman — one of only a handful of scholarship players remaining who isn’t a Frost recruit — is taking his leave of absence this spring for a “personal health matter.”
Five takes on a significant change for NU’s team for spring practices.