football Edit

Spring grade out: Tight end

We continue our spring positional grade outs today by giving our final take on Nebraska's tight ends

Other spring grade outs: QB | RB | WR

What we learned: Hoppes is the clear No. 1 coming out of the spring

One of the bigger surprises with the offense this spring was how much Nebraska's new quarterbacks will look their way going forward. In the past, the Huskers have had talent at the tight end position, but the style of quarterback really prevented them from being a focal point in the offense.

This spring we saw both Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien target the tight end over the middle several times. In fact, senior Tyler Hoppes had three catches for 45 yards alone during the first major scrimmage drive of the spring.

With that said, coming out of the spring Hoppes has been a pleasant surprise, and is a shoe-in to be placed on scholarship this fall with the Huskers sitting on four empties. Hoppes has a real chance to have one of the more productive tight end seasons we've seen in a while, just based on the sample size we were able to see during spring practice.

Biggest concern: The overall lack of game experience 

When you look at Nebraska's tight ends coming out of the spring, they have zero career starts and receptions. This is arguably the biggest turnover NU has had at the tight end position in a number of years.

The good thing is Hoppes, sophomore Matt Snyder and redshirt freshman Jack Stoll all had solid springs, while redshirt freshman David Engelhaupt is also very intriguing with the skill set he brings to the table.

Still, until this group proves it on Saturday's, they are going to be regarded as one of the lower rated tight end units in the conference.

Spring surprise: Snyder and Stoll make a move for playing time

Coming into the spring the expectations weren't very high for Snyder or Stoll. Neither player really showed much in 2016, so for them both to emerge this spring was a pleasant surprise.

Both Snyder and Stolll have been plagued by injuries, but it appears they have finally taken a step in the right direction and will be key components at tight end in 2017.

Looking ahead: Ketter and two freshmen will get their shot 

One player who did not take part in spring practice, but figures to be a factor in August is senior Connor Ketter.

The Norfolk Catholic product suffered a back injury, and was forced to miss the spring. He should be one of the walk-on players in consideration to be put on scholarship for his senior season.

Just talking to tight ends coach Tavita Thompson this spring, there's no question Ketter will be thrusted into the rotation, and has a legitimate shot to be NU's second or third tight end after Hoppes. With how the Huskers player on offense, there will be times you may see three tight ends on the field at once.

Also don't sleep on true freshmen Austin Allen or Kurt Rafdal. Both freshmen should get a fair shake for playing time this summer depending how they report to camp physically.