Five players with something to prove in Nebraska's Spring Game
Nebraska's annual Red-White scrimmage on Saturday is a chance for Husker Nation and football fans across the country to get a glimpse into what the Huskers have been working on this spring as they have many new players and a new coaches.
The scrimmage, which starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, is also an opportunity for players to prove something to their coaches and the spectators.
Here are five players with something to prove during NU's Spring game:
No. 0 - Jaquez Yant, RB
Running back Jaquez Yant dropped 20 pounds since he arrived at Nebraska and said he is more explosive and has fine-tuned his blocking skills. He will likely look visibly more explosive during the spring game with his extreme body change.
Yant rushed for 294 yards on 47 carries in 2021 with one touchdown despite only being able to play a few snaps in a row due to his stamina which he said is much improved.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound back has shown glimpses of his talent on the field but will need to continue to translate his increased stamina and explosiveness to rise to the top of a very competitive running back group.
No. 8 - Logan Smothers, QB
Nebraska brought in two transfer quarterbacks, which could have pushed sophomore quarterback Logan Smothers to the backburn if he allowed it. Smothers has an opportunity to prove that he belongs in the quarterback competition.
Based on what we know now, it seems Texas transfer Casey Thompson will be starting for Nebraska against Northwestern. However, Smothers has a chance to push Thompson and take the backing job from Florida State transfer Chubba Purdy who has been banged up this spring.
The Huskers will conceal their offensive plays and new system in the spring game. However, coaches will be aware of how the players handle themselves and in Smothers' case, the new offense, in front of a crowd.
No. 21 - Noa Pola-Gates, S
Safety Noa Pola-Gates has seemingly been on this list for the last two seasons. As a former four-star safety, Nebraska and its fans had high expectations for Pola-Gates, who has played special teams over the last two seasons.
With five new defensive backs added to the roster and two more to come, Pola-Gates needs to prove he is valuable on defense, not just on special teams.
The 6-foot-0, 180-pound safety has experience playing in Memorial Stadium and in the Big Ten, which could help him pass the eye test that coaches will be looking at on Saturday to see how players handled the pressure of fans.
No. 52 - Mosai Newsom, DL
Nebraska's defensive line had seven linemen during spring practice, giving each player plenty of reps for development. Mosai Newsom is a lineman that needed to make a big jump this spring to give himself an opportunity to make the field during his fourth season with Nebraska.
The Huskers will try to bring in one or two transfer defensive linemen to add depth and experience. Plus, NU's younger players like Jailen Weaver, Ru'Quan Buckley and Marquis Black also had the opportunity to accelerate their development this spring. Their names come up more often during press conferences.
So, this is Newsom's time to get his foot in the door to be able to make an impact during the season. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder will have his opportunity to do just that during the spring game as he will get many reps just like the other D-linemen.
No. 57 - Ethan Piper, OL
Offensive lineman Ethan Piper has a different story than the two previous athletes. He was given a shot as a true freshman but saw his playing time squander in 2021.
Nebraska's starting center for the last three seasons, Cam Jurgens, has entered the 2022 NFL draft and left a big opening in the line. Piper and senior Trent Hixson took the most reps at center during the spring.
After Turner Corcoran comes back, it is possible he will be moved from tackle to center. Either way, Piper needs to prove last season was a fluke and that he can reach his potential.
Attacking on Saturday with little to no errors at his new position could go a long way for a guy who was on the downward slope last season.