The Weekly Rundown: Who is Nebraska targeting in the transfer portal?
We talk transfer portal targets for Nebraska and more as we kick things off on Monday in the Weekly Rundown.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
Nebraska taking a DB in the transfer portal: If there's one certainty right now with Nebraska and their two available spots for the transfer portal, defensive back has become the No. 1 priority.
Three of the most notable social media follows by NU in the portal are all defensive backs - Tulsa's Akayleb Evans, Ohio State's Tyreke Johnson and Texas A&M's Travon Fuller. All three of these names are hot commodities right now, as several teams appear to be looking for a quality corner in the portal. Evans intrigues me the most. He's a legitimate NFL draft prospect for 2022.
100 percent capacity at Memorial Stadium: With the recent announcement of the Garth Brooks concert, and the CDC relaxing mask mandates, you have to feel really good about 100 percent capacity in Memorial Stadium for the 2021 season.
JoJo Domann: Sometimes I think people take for granted what type of athlete Nebraska linebacker JoJo Domann is. For example, last year in the Purdue game he was targeted eight times according to PFF against Rondale Moore. Domann held Moore to just six catches on those eight targets for 21 yards.
Domann verified his overall athletic ability this past spring, finishing towards the top 10 on the team in the 10-yard dash (1.60 seconds), pro agility (3.97 seconds) and vertical jump (36.5 inches). PFF also named him one of the top five linebacker draft prospects for 2022.
Drew Christo...again: I know we just had Nebraska baseball commit Drew Christo on here not too long ago after he threw a no-hitter. However, this latest accomplishment by the talented Christo deserves mention.
On Sunday, he was named to the second-team All-Metro Academic Team by the Omaha World-Herald. Christo is the No. 1 ranked student in his senior class of 329 at Elkhorn, to go along with scoring a 35 on his ACT.
Not too bad for a guy that's going to most likely have a seven-figure MLB contract put in front of him in July. He's the best baseball player in the state, an All-State football player for a championship team, and second-team All-State in basketball for a team that finished runner-up. He has also been named a finalist for the Omaha Sports Commissions' OSCAS award, for the 2021 Male Sports Athlete of the Year. He's on that list with names like Thomas Fidone, Chucky Hepburn, Cole Payton and Hunter Sallis. The award will be given out on May 27. I'm not sure I've seen a better collective group of Omaha-area athletes up for it.
These were my surprises of the week:
No Big Ten teams will host a regional: I shouldn't be surprised, but I still am. The fact the Big Ten didn't have one of the possible 20 NCAA host regional sites was a blow. It also was a message to the league's tone-deaf leadership that decided to do their own thing by being the only high-profile league in the country to not allow non-conference games.
Phalen Sanford's testing marks: When former strength coach Boyd Epley used to list the top winter conditioning marks over 20 years ago at NU, it allowed Husker fans to get to know a few under-the-radar names based on their athletic testing results.
NU released those numbers for the first time since the early-2000s this past week, and it introduced Husker fans to the pride of Benkelman - Phalen Sanford. The walk-on defensive back placed towards the top in every major category released - vertical (35 inches), pro agility (3.92 seconds), 10-yard dash (1.51 seconds), clean (325 pounds) and squat (500 pounds).
You can bet Sanford gained a few fans this past week, and nobody will be surprised at all if he finds himself on a special teams unit in 2021.
No decision from MJ Morris this week: Nebraska four-star QB target MJ Morris told Rivals.com on Sunday he still has no timeline on his decision. Originally we were supposed to know his plans this past week.
Morris is down to Georgia Tech, NC State and Nebraska. He lives 35 minutes from the Tech campus. The longer this goes, it doesn't look good for the Huskers. The other thing we don't know is if he's NU's top QB target on the board?
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Will alcohol be served at the Garth Brooks concert?: The elephant in the room going into the August Garth Brooks concert is if alcohol will be served at the event in Memorial Stadium? The better question is has there ever been a Brooks concert without alcohol sales?
I think it's a safe bet there's going to be some type of sales on the NU campus. The logistics of what that's going to look like and where it's served/allowed is what we don't know right now.
Can Nebraska baseball win the Big Ten?: Will Bolt's squad has two games with Indiana and Ohio State and three with Michigan. Winning the Big Ten will have to be earned. Losing out on Sunday's Northwestern's game was big because it was likely going to be a sure win. A 5-2 finish for sure gets it done, and the right combination of 4-3 may do it as well. Overall winning percentage is the deciding factor.
Will Markese Stepp be a factor in 2021?: The more you hear, the more you wonder what type of production we are going to see from USC running back transfer Markese Stepp in 2021? Can he return from his foot injury and get himself back into shape? Until we see him back in full, it's hard to put him in the conversation.
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
Garth Brooks ticket sales on Friday: The Brooks tickets go on sale Friday. Typically his shows sell out fast. Can he sell out 90,000 tickets in a few hours? I think it's very possible. If he does, that's another feather in the cap to Nebraskans and their level of support for major events we host in this state.
State track this week in Omaha: The state track meet will be in Omaha this week from Wednesday to Saturday. Here's what I'll be watching from a football eye:
-North Platte's Vince Genatone: Can he improve on his 10.87 in the 100. He picked up a Southern Miss offer this week.
-Omaha Burke's Devon Jackson: The Rivals250 linebacker ran 10.54 in the 100. How close can he get to Kenzo Cotton's state time of 10.403 from 2012? By the way, I'm told Cotton has a brother entering the 9th grade at Papillion La Visita next year, and he could be a legit football prospect.
-Bellevue West's LJ Richardson: He gets overshadowed by the star power around him at Bellevue West, but the 6-foot-1, 205-pound running back has run 10.88 this year in the 100.
-Omaha Central's J'Dyn Bullion: The talented 2023 linebacker/athlete prospect didn't get a football season, but he's having a heck of a year in track. He leads the state in the discus with a mark of 177-4.
-Omaha North's Tristan Gray: Another OPS football player making the most of things on the track. He leads the state with marks of 62-0 in the shot put and 177-4 in the discus. He'll compete in track at South Dakota next year.
-Lincoln Hight's Beni Ngoyi: He's not going to win an event, but the 6-foot-4 2023 wide receiver prospect qualified in the high jump (6-1) and triple jump (42-1 3/4). He's a name to keep tabs on this summer.
-Jaren Kanak: Ok, Kanak won't be running at Burke this week, but he did run two of the top times on state soil this year for Hays, Kan. Last week he ran 10.37 seconds at his district track meet. He also added an offer from Penn State.
Transfer portal landing spots for former Huskers: Tight end Kurt Rafdal committed to Boise State and wide receiver Jamie Nance committed to Utah State. Congrats to both of them on finding quality landing spots.
Nebraska track coach Gary Pepin: How many more years will we see Pepin at the helm as Nebraska's track coach? He's in his 41st season at NU. The men finished fourth and the women ninth at the Big Ten outdoor meet this past weekend. NU will have a new outdoor track facility in 2022, as the bulldozers are waiting to dig into the current one. The NCAA Championship meet is not until June 9-12 in Eugene.
Player back on campus: Nebraska's players report back to Lincoln today after a two-week break. Anytime a football team leaves and comes back to campus after a break it always has my attention.