Nebraska Spring Look Back: Wide Receiver
We continue our spring football positional recaps today by giving our final take on Nebraska's wide receivers...
WHAT WE LEARNED: Mickey Joseph is already making his mark
Part of Nebraska's massive offseason staff overhaul was hiring former NU quarterback Mickey Joseph as the team's new associate head coach and wide receivers coach.
Along with his impressive track record of developing wideouts and as a recruiter, Joseph seemed to bring a new attitude to his position group this spring.
He has the clout with the impressive list of receivers he's worked with at LSU and other stops in his career, and he immediately set a standard for a unit that has vastly underperformed in recent years.
Most every Husker wideout appeared to buy into Joseph's no-nonsense approach, though there was a casualty with the unexpected departure of Zavier Betts from the program this spring.
With plenty of firepower to work with, it will be interesting to see how Joseph and new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple can get more production out of the receiving corps in 2022.
BIGGEST SPRING CONCERN: Who will solidify the rotation?
Based on reports throughout spring ball and what we saw in the Red-White game, it looks like Nebraska's top wide receiver group currently consists of Trey Palmer, Oliver Martin, and Alante Brown.
Omar Manning and Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, who missed much of the spring with an injury, will certainly factor into that discussion going into fall camp.
But of those five, none have done much of substance yet in a Husker uniform, and there is still much left to prove before the season kicks off.
Making things even more complicated is that NU also boasts another group of wideouts all pushing to establish their place on the depth chart.
Guys like Wyatt Liewer, Brody Belt, Kamonte Grimes, Shawn Hardy II, and Latrell Neville all hoped to make their case during the spring, and the door appears to remain wide open.
The two walk-ons, Liewer and Belt, might be ahead of the other scholarship receivers at this point. Grimes had a solid spring game with a 34-yard touchdown catch.
More competition will join the mix this fall with two incoming freshmen, so the battle for the back end of the rotation has only just begun.
SPRING SURPRISE: Zavier Betts' unexpected departure
Another player who most assumed would be right in the thick of Nebraska's receiver completion was sophomore Zavier Betts.
After starting five games last season and ranking fourth on the team in receptions (20) and receiving yards (286), the former Bellevue (Neb.) West standout abruptly left the program midway through spring ball.
No clear explanation was given for Betts' departure, but it became apparent that he had some things to figure out off the field before he could give his full focus to playing high-level college football.
The door remains open for Betts to return, but the Huskers also seem prepared to move on without him.
At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Betts was a big, physical body who possessed legitimate play-making ability with the ball in his hands. His absence would certainly be a blow for NU, but it's more important that he focuses on things beyond football first.
LOOKING AHEAD: Incoming freshmen will add to competition
As if the number of receivers competing for snaps wasn't already large enough, two more scholarship receivers will join the mix this summer.
At 6-3, 200, Bonner might be the best equipped to push for immediate playing time this season. The former Georgia Tech commit had 50 catches for 816 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior at Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove.
Crawford also possesses good size (6-2, 190) and impressive big-play ability. The former LSU commit racked up 150 catches and more than 2,200 receiving yards in his career at Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks.
The Huskers have another true freshman wide receiver already on campus as well in Victor Jones Jr., who enrolled early for the spring.
A former three-star from Orlando (Fla.) Olympia, Jones (6-2, 190) had a relatively quiet spring but posted 53 catches for 847 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
All three have the potential to earn a spot on the Week 0 depth chart, but they have a steep hill to climb in an already crowded NU receiver room.