Nebraska’s All Big 10 Talent in 2024

All Big Ten are words that havent been spoken much in Lincoln over the last decade. And in a new look Big Ten where if you receive all conference honors you will most likely be receiving All American votes, do the Cornhuskers have anyone on the watchlist? From receivers to linebackers there is a very good possibility Nebraska lands at least one player on that list.

Starting out on offense, the Wake Forest transfer and current standout in spring camp Jahmal Banks is someone who Nebraska’s quarterback room could lean on heavily as a safety blanket. Standing at 6 ‘4 and already receiving All ACC honors, Banks is the first player that comes to mind on offense when it comes to accolades in 2024. With his experience and his already proven abilities on the field Banks could very well find himself in conversation for that coveted All Conference conversation. Not to mention, if we do go with the presumed starter at Quarterback in freshman Dylan Riola he will be looking for leaders on the outside with reliable hands to consistently get the ball to. 

Another skill player that if he finally puts it all together could easily be in this conversation would be Tight End Thomas Fidone. Fidone is only a junior but has all of the attributes to be considered the best TE in the Big Ten. At 6’6, 250lbs Fidone can not only block with his massive frame but looks very comfortable catching the ball across the middle of the field. If Nebraska can target Fidone 8-10 times a game, he could surely be an impact player that defenses will have to scheme for on third down. 

On defense, when I really set back and decipher who can make that jump in 2024 to an All Conference level player, three defenders stand out and one potential darkhorse comes to mind. Nash Hutmacher, a fan favorite, is well on his way to becoming a defining talent for Nebraska this year. There are even rumblings of coaches holding Nash out of plays to keep him fresh causing arguments between Nash and coaches due to his love for the sport and competitive nature. Nash will compete a bit leaner this year than last, giving him an edge. As well as a year of growth in the weight room and the time spent with the wrestling team definitely didn’t hurt. Nash is Nebraska’s best shot at this time for an All Conference level player. 

Two others that definitely deserve to be mentioned are defensive back Tommi Hill and linebacker Issac Gifford. According to coaches Hill has made strides over the off season and could provide lockdown coverage for Nebraska in 2024. Gifford lead Nebraska in tackles in 2023 with 86 which was 35 more than anyone else on the team. His leadership is outstanding and his drive to do better every day shows on the field. Gifford has one of those intangibles that you can not measure and that is heart. My player to watch in 2024 is Cam Lenhardt, with Nash and Robinson drawing attention away. Lenhardt could easily use his pass rushing ability to impress not only Husker fans but draw attention Nationally. 

With so many players that have more potential than we have seen in a while and Matt Rhule’s ability to develop talent it is hard to find clear standouts this early in the year. From a loaded running backs and receivers room to a much improved O-Line Nebraska is looking good early on. Will we have the standout talent to bring home individual accolades or not? Either way, this years Husker team is shaping up into something that will be fun to watch!

 

Spring is here and all eyes are on practice and the upcoming Spring Game. Commotion and hype drawing our attention to the current roster has not stopped this Rhule led coaching staff from keeping one eye on next years’ recruiting class. Rhule and company are aiming to bring in a Top 10 recruiting class in 2025, which is something the Huskers have not been able to accomplish since 2007 and before that you will need to go back to the 90’s to find a top ten class calling the Cornhusker State home.

Signing a major recruit early on in the process is of utmost importance. It can be a domino effect that leads to more high caliber players feeling comfortable signing with a school that is in Nebraska’s current situation. Football is highly tied to momentum both on and off the field and recruiting is no deviation here. A trend setter signing with Nebraska early on in this upcoming recruiting cycle would be huge for Nebraska to help lure in some players who are considering Nebraska but have not fully bought in yet. Keep in mind that Matt Rhule is known for developing 1 star recruits into NFL caliber talent, that being said this is the first situation where he may be able to regularly bring in 4 and 5 star recruits and develop them into the type of talent Husker fans have been longing to see on the field.

Even when focusing only on players that have already taken visits to Nebraska, the recruiting class is looking very promising. Ten players with four star rankings who are leaning heavily towards Nebraska have already made a visit to campus or are set to make a visit this month. With an average of 330 four star rankings given out each year, Nebraska is looking to take home its share in 2025. From in-state recruits to heavily targeting Texas and other key pipeline states, this staff is doing their job on the recruiting trail.

Over the weekend Rhule and company hosted a rather large group of recruits led by Nebraska native Chase Loftin, a 4 star recruit from Millard South. Three star’s Jackson Carpenter out of Lincoln Southwest, Tyson Terry from Omaha North, Caden VerMaas from Millard North, Conor Booth from Bishop Neumann and Malachi Goodman from New Jersey.

This week Nebraska will be hosting 4 star recruit Adonyss Currie and 3 star offensive lineman John Mills. Currie, a 6’2” 160 pound cornerback out of California is leaning heavily towards Nebraska. While Texas is edging the Huskers out with offensive lineman John Mills, a 6’5” prospect also hailing from the Golden State.

With a seemingly great start to the 2025 recruiting cycle, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are attracting attention to themselves for not only what is happening on the practice field in Lincoln, but also for the work that has been put in on the recruiting trail. Even with a pickup of just the recruits who are leaning Huskers at this moment, Nebraska would be able to secure its first top 10 recruiting class in over a decade.

 

Dylan Raiola Seamlessly Transitions

 

The news coming out of Lincoln has been much awaited but not as readily available as we would have thought, due to the entire country talking about the true freshman who is favored to start for the Huskers this year. Dylan Raiola, the highest ranked quarterback to ever play a game wearing the block “N”, has not made many waves in the news cycle this offseason since his decommitment from Georgia, and commitment to Nebraska. Many interviews have coaches stating Raiola’s quiet transition into a collegiate quarterback. Bringing up his leadership and work ethic in quotes from Coach Rhule such as “he just works”. This is exactly what is needed from a true freshman stepping into this role surrounded by many veteran players. 

 

Leading a much improved offensive roster with the addition of weapons like the All-ACC’s Jahmal Banks who led Wake Forest in 2023 with 59 receptions for 653 yards and once highly sought after wide receiver from the University of Texas Isaiah Neyor. Adding in the current young crop of receivers already having acquired playing time at Nebraska, this should be a very steady receiving room. Allowing Raiola to play within himself and not have to force the ball downfield to receivers with little to no separation. 

 

Raiola’s “He Just Works” mentality is something that could lend itself to a much needed improvement at the quarterback position in 2024. Finding Raiola in the weightroom, studying film or quietly covered in sweat from head to toe during mat drills may not make news headlines but it shows his want to succeed. The lack of “we” in college football is ever so growing as the want of “I” is taking over in this NIL era. That want of “we” paired with an upgraded receiver room and a very deep running back room will ease the stress on this young quarterback and allow him to grow without the outside pressure that may be put onto him with a less adequate offense. Finally giving a promising quarterback the ability to shine and stay healthy. 

 

From his commitment poem to his actions, Dylan Raiola is coming across as less of an outsider but more of a player who understands the totality of Husker football. The grit the people of Nebraska portray. The heart we put into this program, and what it means to an entire state when it’s thriving. So don’t mistake his quietness for inability. Mental preparedness is best done in silence, and Raiola is preparing for battle.