Nebraska football practice, 4.17

Nebraska wide receiver Oliver Martin (left) catches a pass while being pursued by cornerback Quinton Newsome on during a football practice at Memorial Stadium on April 17.

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The weekend transfers of reserve wide receivers Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston won’t be seen as having much impact on the fortunes of the 2021 Nebraska football team, nor are their respective decisions particularly surprising given their depth chart status and the prevalence of transfers in today’s college game.

The moves don’t likely change coach Scott Frost’s consistent opinion this spring that the 2021 receiving corps is the best one he’s had in his tenure at Nebraska or that this group of Huskers can provide a collective, breakout performance in the fall.

In fact, it's relatively easy to make the argument that from a football standpoint, the transfers are mutually beneficial. Nance and Houston can look for a place where they'll be better positioned to play, and NU gets two scholarships to use in 2022 and beyond. 

Nance and Houston leaving are notable, mostly, for the manner in which the weekend closed the book on the first two years of recruiting the position by this coaching staff (along with former receivers coach and offensive coordinator Troy Walter).

The revolving door and well-trafficked road to the transfer portal has been documented in the past, but to revisit one more time, here is a list of the wide receivers on the roster in 2019 that either were on scholarship or later earned one.

Two things jump out: First, nine of the 11 on the list transferred from Nebraska with college eligibility remaining and the other two (Kanawai Noa and Mike Williams) played a combined three seasons at NU as transfers.

Second, of course, is that none are left on the roster as of Monday. The only receiver from the 2019 roster with a good chance of making an impact at all two years later is Wyatt Liewer, a 2018 walk-on who’s turned himself into a contributor and a scholarship candidate.

Even in an era where transfers are increasingly common, that is heavy turnover. It goes back further, too.

2019 Scholarship WRs at Nebraska

Name Status Finish career at NU?
Wan'Dale Robisnon Transfer No
Jamie Nance Transfer No
Jaevon McQuitty Transfer No
Demariyon Houston Transfer No
Jaron Woodyard* Transfer No
JD Spielman Transfer No
Darien Chase Transfer No
Miles Jones Transfer No
Kade Warner* Transfer No
Kanawai Noa Grad Yes
Mike Williams Grad Yes

Here are the 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes combined at receiver for Nebraska:

* 2018: Williams (juco, two years at NU, graduated), Justin McGriff (one year, transfer), Andre Hunt (one year, expelled), Jaron Woodyard (juco, two years, graduate transfer), Miles Jones (two years, transfer), Dominick Watt (nonqualifier).

* 2019: Noa (grad transfer, one year, graduated), Darien Chase (one year, transfer), Wan’Dale Robinson (two years, transfer), Houston (two years, transfer), Nance (two years, transfer).

That miss rate, of course, is part of the reason why Frost as early as December 2019 said flatly that the Huskers would rely on newcomers heavily in 2020. They did, with mixed results and considerable inconsistency but also some signs of growth during the pandemic-shortened season.

To NU’s credit, they have explored about every avenue to plug the holes. The Huskers signed four high school receivers in 2020 (Marcus Fleming has since transferred) and junior college transfer Omar Manning.

They added walk-on transfers Oliver Martin and Levi Falck, both of whom started games in 2020.

A potential top trio coming out of spring ball — Martin, Manning and Montana graduate transfer Samori Toure — all arrived via different styles of transfer and all within the past 12 months. Also in the projected rotation you’ll find transfers like Falck, walk-ons like Liewer, under-the-radar recruits like Will Nixon, highly touted ones like Zavier Betts and players converted after high school careers playing other positions like Alante Brown.

Three more freshmen wideouts — Latrell Neville, Shawn Hardy II and Kamonte Grimes — are slated to arrive on campus in the next month.

“I think that group is about there,” Frost said last week on the “Sports Nightly” radio program. “It’s the best it’s been talent- and depthwise. … I know (quarterback Adrian Martinez) feels better about that group, and that makes me feel better.”

Frost has said that the restocking of the receiving corps since his arrival has been “a slow build.” Really, it’s been a double rebuild. The first two-year attempt yielded only one true impact player (Robinson), and he left after two seasons.

If the second attempt works the way Frost and Nebraska think it will, that will all be water under the bridge. If it doesn’t, the Husker offense will likely continue to struggle.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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