football Edit

Top 40 Huskers for 2019: 31-35

Voting Criteria: Player's importance to the team in 2019, overall talent, and future potential for the upcoming season. A player's long-term/NFL prospects were not taken into consideration.

Voting Panel: Publisher Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com writers Robin Washut and Nate Clouse.

Previous Rankings: 35-40

T35. Barret Pickering, K, So.

After making his first two career field goals to start his true freshman season, Pickering hit a bit of a rough patch in 2018. He ended up missing four of his next six kicks, giving further concern to Nebraska's all-around special teams woes to open the year.

But Pickering settled down and eventually found his groove, converting his final 10 field goals of the season to go along with making 40 of his 41 extra points. His best game came in a home win over Michigan State, where the Birmingham, Ala., accounted for all of NU's points in a snowy 9-6 victory.

Pickering led the Huskers in scoring at 82 points, and assuming his late-season consistency carries over into his sophomore campaign, he could be in line for another big year in 2019.

Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Nate

39th

37th

31st

T33. Bryce Benhart, OL, Fr.

One of the top 2019 offensive line prospects in the country, Nebraska made Benhart a priority almost as soon as Scott Frost and Co. took over in Lincoln. It's easy to see why.

The former four-star recruit possesses everything you want in an offensive tackle, boasting a massive 6-9, 305 frame with even more room to grow and the level of athleticism Frost wants to restore up front.

Nebraska has two veterans at tackle in Brenden Jaimes and Matt Farniok, but the depth behind them is wide open for Benhart to make an immediate push for playing time. Depending on what happens with the rest of the o-line this fall, don't rule out the chance of Benhart possibly cracking the starting lineup at some point this year.

Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Nate

30th

38th

36th

T33. Deontre Thomas, DL, So.

After making his way into Nebraska defensive line rotation as a true freshman, Thomas had his second season cut short with a hand injury. Thanks to the new redshirt rule, though, the setback was arguably a blessing in disguise.

Thomas was able to play in the first four games and retain his year of eligibility, in the process, he dedicated himself in the weight room and bulked up roughly 25 pounds over the winter and spring.

Now he's benching 450 pounds and squatting 675, and his 290-pound frame feels much more suited for the rigors of playing in the trenches in the Big Ten.

Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Nate

29th

34th

NR

T31. Noa Pola-Gates, S, Fr.

Pola-Gates was right at the top of Nebraska's 2019 recruiting board, and after landing him over the likes of Alabama, USC, and Oregon, the freshman is poised for an immediate role for the Blackshirts.

Pola-Gates is one of those players who checks about every box, as he has the size and skill to thrive at the Power Five level but also possesses a mind for the game that could make him great.

There's some more experienced upperclassmen on the safety depth chart ahead of him entering fall camp, but Pola-Gates will have every opportunity to not only compete for playing time but also try to win a starting job.

Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Nate

32nd

30th

34th

T31. Will Honas, LB, Jr.

Regarded as one of the top junior college linebackers in the country, Honas came to Nebraska last year facing some lofty expectations. But a knee injury sidelined him for the season after appearing in just four games.

Honas was still working his way back from the injury this spring, but once he gets back to full strength he's going to have every chance to pick up where he left off in 2018.

The Huskers are glaringly thin at inside linebacker, so even if Honas doesn't beat out Collin Miller for a starting spot, he's going to be counted on heavily as one of the top options in the ILB rotation.

Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Nate

36th

32nd

28th