Samori Toure living up to lofty expectations so far
For a player who has never taken a single game snap at the FBS level, Samori Toure arrived at Nebraska this winter, expected to live up to an awfully high bar.
The 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver transfer from FCS-level Montana joined the Huskers with the expectation to push for a starting job this season immediately and possibly emerge as the No. 1 target.
A former FCS first-team All-American who holds multiple Montana receiving records, Toure is still only a handful of spring practices into his NU career. But he's already made quite the impression on his new coaches and teammates.
"Really been impressed with Samori's approach to coming in here," head coach Scott Frost said. "You can tell he's a veteran, he's a grown-up, he's really been a pro with his preparation and his work in the weight room and on the field conditioning. He's going to make us better in the passing game… I expect him to make us a better team."
Going into spring ball, Frost said Nebraska would experiment with the big-bodied Toure inside in the slot. With his ability to stretch the field, block, and make tough catches in traffic, Frost said Portland, Ore., native could be a versatile weapon in the passing game.
Offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Matt Lubick echoed Frost's praise.
In 2019, Toure set the Montana single-season records for receptions (82) and yards (1,495) and also broke the all-time FCS playoff mark with 303 receiving yards vs. Southeast Louisiana.
While he will face a significant step up in competition in the Big Ten this year, Lubick said Toure's experience and intelligence would give him every opportunity to be just as dynamic at the Power Five level.
"He's very smart," Lubick said. "He's an experienced player… Learns fast. A big-bodied guy that has a great catch radius. He can go up and attack a ball in the air. Fifty-50 balls aren't 50-50 with him; he goes up and gets them. Then he's a really good route runner. He's very polished…
"The thing about our slot, he can also play outside and play inside, and to do that, you got to be able to mentally handle that. Sometimes it's hard for a first-year guy, but he's picked it up really well."
Because FCS schools postponed their 2020 season until this spring, Toure has not played a college football game since 2019.
But with 36 games of experience and 155 career catches under his belt, he has been able to pick up right where he left off at Montana this spring.
"He's real level-headed," NU quarterback Adrian Martinez said. "I think he's an experienced cat, and he knows what he's doing on the football field, and he wants to learn and wants to be good. He wants to be good on this team and do big things, and you can tell right away…
He's aggressive, and I think that comes from his experience doing it at Montana. I'm continuing to develop that trust with him. I think he has some big capability of doing that, not only in practice but in games."
Few Huskers know what Toure is capable of more than fellow wideout Levi Falck.
A former transfer from South Dakota, Falck and the Coyotes faced off vs. Toure and the Grizzlies to open the 2019 season. Toure racked up nine catches for 142 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17 UM victory.
"He's really good," Falck said. "He's really fast, can play the ball in the air. I played against him at South Dakota when he was at Montana, and I think he put up like 200 yards on us. I'm glad he's on my team."