Top 40 Huskers for 2021: 1-5
{{ timeAgo('2021-07-19 12:00:00 -0500') }} football Edit

Top 40 Huskers for 2021: 1-5

Voting Criteria: Player's importance to the team in 2021, 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 senior writer Robin Washut, videographer Gregg Peterson, KETV Sports Director Andy Kendeigh, and HOL intern Abby Barmore.

Previous rankings: 36-40 | 31-35 | 26-30 | 21-25 | 16-20 | 11-15 | 6-10

5. Deontai Williams, S, Sr.

Senior safety Deontai Williams.
Senior safety Deontai Williams. (USA Today)
Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Gregg Andy Abby

4th

6th

11th

4th

5th

Deontai Williams provided Nebraska’s 2021 secondary with a significant boost in experience and leadership when he announced he would return for a sixth season of eligibility.

Williams has started 10 games over his Husker career, and that number would be much higher if not for a season-ending injury he suffered back in 2019. The former JUCO product will also be one of the older players to start at Nebraska in recent history, as he will turn 25 in October.

The 6-foot-1, 205 safety started seven of eight games this past season, seeing 519 total snaps of action, which was fourth-most on the team.

He finished 2020 with 51 total tackles, including a sack-strip fumble return for a touchdown in NU's win over Penn State. Over his career, Williams has 76 total tackles in 21 games, including 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and eight pass break-ups.

In Nebraska's win at Purdue this season, Williams had a career-high 12 tackle, including 10 solo stops. He followed that up with 10 tackles the next week vs. Minnesota.

4. Samori Toure, WR, Sr.

Senior wide receiver Samori Toure.
Senior wide receiver Samori Toure. (Tyler Krecklow)
Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Gregg Andy Abby

6th

5th

5th

6th

7th

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.

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, Toure's experience and intelligence would give him every opportunity to be just as dynamic at the Power Five level.

3. JoJo Domann, OLB, Sr.

Senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann.
Senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann. (Getty Images)
Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Gregg Andy Abby

3rd

3rd

6th

2nd

3rd

PFF named Nebraska outside linebacker JoJo Domann its 2021 Preseason All-American second-team and first-team Preseason All-Big Ten.

Domann played a hybrid role and lines up in the slot as well as outside. Because of this, PFF's database considers Domann as a nickel and is not ranked against other linebackers when it comes to his statistics.

We compared his numbers to the league's outside linebackers to see where he ranked in the Big Ten for this list.

The sixth-year senior was No. 2 among Big Ten linebackers in 2020 in PFF's coverage grade with an 81.1. He had the seventh-highest defense score with a 78.9. His run defense grade jumped 17 points from 56.3 in 2019 to 73.5 in 2020.

In 2020, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker recorded three quarterback pressures, 40 tackles, 26 stops, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble.

Domann still has more to prove, which is why he came back for a final farewell tour. Good luck to the opposing offenses on NU's schedule.

2. Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Jr.

Junior cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt.
Junior cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt. (Associated Press)
Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Gregg Andy Abby

2nd

2nd

2nd

3rd

2nd

Cam Taylor-Britt doesn't have in-your-face stats. However, a closer look shows he hasn't played to his full potential yet.

The 2020 second-team All-Big Ten selection by conference coaches had the second-highest run defense grade with an 82.6, off of No. 1 by 0.2.

The rest of his PFF grades aren't as high. Taylor-Britt scored in the upper to mid-60s in total defense, pass rush, and coverage. His tackling grade was 54.6 in 2020.

One of Taylor-Britt's best performances was against Penn State, covering the second-best returning wide receiver in the Big Ten, Jahan Dotson.

Taylor-Britt held Dotson to two catches and 27 yards. Dotson averaged over 120 yards per game before meeting Nebraska and Taylor-Britt.

Taylor-Britt held all of his receivers to under 40 yards except for Purdue's David Bell, who capitalized on a rare mistake with an 89-yard reception during his 132 receiving yard game.

Taylor-Britt will have more opportunities to shut down some of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten, and he has proven time and time again that he is up for the task.

1. Adrian Martinez, QB, Jr.

Junior quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Junior quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Ranking Breakdown
Sean Robin Gregg Andy Abby

1st

1st

1st

1st

1st

Adrian Martinez and head coach Scott Frost are entering their fourth year together at Nebraska. The stakes are high, and Martinez is not shielding away from the pressure.

Last season, Martinez battled for the starting position against sophomore Luke McCaffrey, who has since left the program. QB1 is his once again, but he needs to play like it can be taken away at any moment. Nebraska is desperate for a winning season.

Despite the criticism, Martinez had his best season in 2020 in his offense grade (77.9) and run/rushing grade (80.8), according to PFF. His best passing season grade (71.1) was his freshman season.

Martinez needs to get back to completing more passes. He has personnel he can rely on with deep wide receiver and tight end rooms.

Nebraska quarterback coach Mario Verduzco has been preaching that Martinez must reduce his turnovers. If he can do that and up his completion percentage, Martinez could lead Nebraska to success.