Week 2 College Football Preview

Week 2 of College Football is finally here! Hussam Patel gives his top three week 2 college football preview and games that you need to watch.

Photo Credit: SCOTT WACHTER/USA TODAY SPORTS

Week 2 of the 2022 college football season is finally here. Here are the top three college football previews and games you need to watch

Alabama vs. Texas preview

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas Longhorns. 12 P.M. EST, FOX

  • Line: Alabama -20, o/u: 61.5

Alabama week 2 college football preview

This is a fully-focused Alabama team that lost a slew of star parts, and yet still ran for 278 yards last week and threw for 281 yards.

The offensive line has been worked on and tweaked to be better in pass protection. This allows Bryce Young time to to spread it around more.

The only noteworthy thing the Crimson Tide have to worry about is the notorious “horns down” penalty that Nick Saban did not even know existed.

You think Alabama is going to flinch for an instant when Texas connects on a 78-yard touchdown pass? 

Texas week 2 college football preview

This will be the biggest week 2 college football game. Texas has the guys to at least hang with Bama at home, but they need a good start and to believe they really can do this

Steve Sarkisian and the coaching staff have settled in, there’s a healthy Bijan Robinson in the backfield, Quinn Ewers – at least prospect-wise – is as promising as any quarterback in the country. You’re not crazy to hype Xavier Worthy among the best wide receivers in college football, either.

How will the Longhorns react if Will Anderson Jr. sacks Ewers twice on the first drive? What happens when the Crimson Tide stops Bijan Robinson and the run?

Prediction

Alabama 45, Texas 27

Tennessee vs. Pittsburgh preview

#24 Tennessee Volunteers v Pittsburgh Panthers. 3:30 P.M. EST, ABC

  • Line: Tennessee -6.5, o/u: 66

Tennessee week 2 college football preview

The Tennessee offense is going to go off. The Vols’ offense looks as potent as ever, scoring 59 points in the season opener against Ball State. Hendon Hooker has a plethora of help.

Four of last year’s offensive line starters are back, but that unit allowed an SEC-worst 44 sacks last season. How effective this Vols offense can be is dependent on the guys up front. 

Tennessee didn’t have a sack in last week’s game, and only had two tackles for loss. Linebacker Jeremy Banks will be looked upon to create some negative plays, as will defensive end Byron Young.

Pittsburgh week 2 college football preview

The running game was held in check, but Kedon Slovis had a terrific debut, throwing for over 300 yards. Now he gets to throw on a Tennessee secondary that struggled last season.

The Vols secondary has some experience in Trevon Flowers and Jaylen McCollough, but they were also a big reason why the Vols’ pass defense struggled in 2021. Slovis needs to feast on them.

Pitt finished third in the nation in sacks last fall, and their top havoc producers, Calijah Kancey and Habakkuk Baldonado, are still around to cause problems. If the Panthers D can create chaos and force three-and-outs, the Vols’ defense can expect to be on the field for much of the game.

Prediction

Tennessee 44, Pittsburgh 38

Kentucky vs. Florida preview

#20 Kentucky Wildcats at #12 Florida Gators. 7:30 P.M. EST, ESPN

  • Line: Florida -5, o/u: 52

Kentucky week 2 college football preview

The offense has a mayo-loving pro prospect of its own in quarterback Will Levis, coming off a 303-yard performance. He’ll keep pushing a Gator secondary that had issues with the Utah passing game late last week.

With only one starter returning, along with Auburn transfer Tashawn Manning, the Wildcats return only 45 career starts. Kentucky’s “Big Blue Wall” is young, inexperienced, and a work-in-progress.

Offensive coordinator Rick Scangarello will want to get Tayvion Robinson, who was marvelous in his Kentucky debut (6 receptions, 136 yards), the ball early and often on Saturday night.

Kentucky is also very deep at linebacker; it’s been an area of strength in Stoops’ recruiting operation. This means the Wildcats are less likely to tire late compared to Utah. If Kentucky wins, it’ll be likely because it won this battle.

Florida Gators week 2 college football preview

Led by quarterback Anthony Richardson, the Gators piled on 283 ground yards and four TDs, while averaging over seven yards per touch against a very good, and physical, team last week.

The Gators have plenty of talent up front, and start multiple five-star players on the defensive line. Still, Florida surrendered over 200 yards rushing to Utah last Saturday and was too often pushed back easily at the point of attack.

Kentucky’s top running backs are out, one with a suspension and another with an injury, so the Gators may get a break in the running game. But they still have to deal with Will Levis and his strong arm. Jason Marshall Jr. will have to keep up with Tayvion Robinson.

Anthony Richardson will be contained by the Wildcats defense, he will have to rely on his arm more than his legs. It needs to be the next step in his development in week 2 of college football.

Prediction

Florida 27, Kentucky 24

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Cincinnati vs. Arkansas: Prospects Review and Game Recap

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas was one of the more exciting matchups in an otherwise bland 3:30 slate of games. Relive the excitement and learn about some of the NFL Draft prospects for each team who stood out in this Cincinnati vs Arkansas review.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Game Recap

The number 23 ranked Bearcats took on the 19th ranked Razorbacks in a game between 2021’s most exciting squads. Both teams lost significant talent to the NFL Draft last year but still kept a large portion of their nucleus.

The first half was a tightly contested match in which defenses reigned supreme. Much of the first quarter was marred by strong defenses, with the only score coming from Arkansas by way of a quarterback touchdown run. Cincinnati almost shortened the score to just four points, however kicker Ryan Coe missed a 25-yard field goal with 0:13 seconds left in the quarter.

The second quarter was much the same as both teams traded punts until the Razorbacks were able to break the stalemate late in the half, putting the score at 14-0. Additionally, Cincinnati would attempt another field goal during the previous possession but missed again, this time from 48 yards out.

The Bearcats finally scored at the beginning third quarter with a Corey Kiner rushing touchdown from the Arkansas five-yard line. Arkansas would then respond with a nice back-shoulder touchdown to Jadon Haselwood. Cincinnati would also return the favor with another touchdown pass to Nick Mardner and would force a fumble on the next Razorbacks possession. This would only lead to a field goal, and Arkansas would extend their lead afterward with a field goal of their own.

With the score 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Arkansas continued to extend their lead with another deep touchdown. Cincinnati would bring the score closer with a Leonard Taylor touchdown reception. Despite the efforts of the Bearcats, Arkansas would take possession and drain the clock, finishing the game with a 31-24 victory.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Offensive Prospects Review

KJ Jefferson was the best prospect on the field Saturday, showing off his speed and playmaking ability. He finished the day going 18/26 for 223 yards and three passing touchdowns with one on the ground as well. Jefferson was stellar on the ground yesterday as well, displaying excellent agility to create yards after the play breaks down.

Additionally, Jefferson looks more comfortable navigating the pocket and working through his progressions. It was a great first game for the redshirt junior, and has certainly helped his draft stock.

Tight end Trey Knox was part of Jefferson’s success on Saturday, catching six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Knox is a converted wide receiver who is now the starting tight end for Sam Pittman’s offense. He showed great ball tracking ability and speed, which was on full display during Arkansas’s final touchdown. Knox is certainly a player to keep an eye on from here on out.

The aforementioned Haselwood was also a consistent target, showing off his body control and hand-eye coordination on his touchdown grab. The Oklahoma transfer picked up where he left off with the Sooners, and could be a big contributor in 2022.

Cincinnati looked noticeably weaker after losing a majority of their defensive talent and some key starters on offense. Despite this, there were still a couple of standout performances worth noting here. Tight end Josh Whyle started off with an incredible one-handed grab from an awkward throw by quarterback Ben Bryant. Although he finished without a touchdown, Whyle was a safety blanket underneath and was able to create some nice yards after the catch.

Wide receiver Tyler Scott also had a nice game against Arkansas. Scott is one of the Bearcats’ speedy deep threats that had plenty of opportunities to score, however Cincinnati could not get him the ball. The same could be said for Tre Tucker, who had a solid game but wasn’t able to show off his big play ability.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Defensive Prospects Review

Arkansas’s defensive transfers also flashed a ton during this Week 1 matchup. Defensive ends Jordan Domineck and Drew Sanders both had quarterback sacks while showing off their impressive athleticism.

The last Arkansas prospect to shine was fan-favorite safety Jalen Catalon. Coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury, Catalon had a solid game Saturday, but left due to another injury to his shoulder. He would not return, but still managed to show off his physicality and instincts in his limited reps.

On defense, the star of the show was transfer linebacker Ivan Pace Jr, who took charge in place of the departed Darrian Beavers. Pace had a few nice plays in the box but really shined as a blitzer. His brother Deshawn also flashed a little due to his athleticism, but had an otherwise rough outing Saturday.

Saturday was also a disappointing game from veteran defensive back Arquan Bush. As the most tenured player on the Bearcats’ back end, Bush struggled to stay in phase with his targets and let up some big plays.

Backyard Brawl NFL Draft prospects review: Pitt wins but WVU players shine

College football fans and NFL draft enthusiasts were treated to the return of one of its classic rivalry games this week, as Pittsburgh and West Virginia renewed their famous Backyard Brawl after a decade hiatus. The return was exciting enough that it became the highest-attended Pittsburgh sporting event of all time with over 70,000 fans in attendance.

The game certainly didn’t disappoint, with multiple lead changes and a dramatic finish. West Virginia came up just short (quite literally) in the final seconds to give Pitt the victory, with Mountaineers QB JT Daniels unable to convert on a long fourth down to extend the game. Here is hoping they will play again sooner despite all of the changes to college football happening fast.

I came into the Backyard Brawl with a NFL draft few prospects in mind I was excited to see, but my attention ended up going to a few unexpected players who are now on my radar. Let’s start by taking a look at two players who aren’t draft-eligible, but are guys to watch for the future.

Future NFL Draft Prospects Donaldson and Hammond, Jr Shine in Backyard Brawl

Coming into the game I expected last year’s leading rusher for Pitt, junior RB Israel Abinikanda, to lead the rushing attack for the Panthers. Instead, sophomore RB Rodney Hammond Jr got the bulk of the carries with 16 rushes for 74 yards and two scores.

That stat line isn’t anything special in college football, but the burst and quickness he showed to go along with great toughness between the tackles was impressive to watch. He also had a 49-yard reception that showed off his speed in the open field. Definitely a player I will be keeping an eye on.

West Virginia’s leading rusher on the day also was a surprise, but for a completely different reason. Freshman tight end/running back CJ Donaldson was absolutely electric in his college debut, finishing with seven carries for 125 yards and a TD. He even blocked a punt that led to his only score of the day on a bruising five-yard run.

Listed at 6’2 and 240 pounds, he showed impressive burst and straight-line speed for such a big guy. He used that size to his advantage as well, bouncing off tacklers on his only touchdown of the day. It was a small sample size and he is only a freshman, but don’t be surprised if he is a popular name in NFL draft circles very soon.

Pitt’s 2023 NFL Draft Prospects Fail to Impress in Backyard Brawl

I was excited to watch NFL draft prospects like Habakkuk Baldonado and Calijah Kancey along Pitt’s defensive line after their impressive 2021 seasons, but they failed to make a huge impact in the Backyard Brawl. Baldonado didn’t play as much as I expected, and his most notable play was probably his taunting penalty that got West Virginia off their own goal line.

Kancey already has question marks about his size (6’0, 280), and in this game, it showed up in the run game. He didn’t impact the passing game much either, as he struggled to get off blocks and pressure Daniels. I think both players will ultimately have good seasons, but this wasn’t the best start for either of them.

Kedon Slovis was another player I was curious about now that he moved on from USC. He burst onto the scene with an electric freshman season in 2019, and NFL draft buzz immediately followed. He has regressed every season since, however, failing to establish himself as an NFL-caliber talent.

The shoulder injury he suffered in 2021 seems to have sapped some of his arm talent as well — which wasn’t a huge strength of his to begin with. He played well overall in this game, showing poise and accuracy down the stretch. I doubt he will be a highly-touted NFL draft prospect ever again, but he is worth keeping an eye on.

West Virginia Prospects Shine Despite Loss

The two players I was focusing on going into the game, JT Daniels and Dante Stills, both played well, especially Stills. However, it was a receiver who grabbed my attention early.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton isn’t an unknown player by any means. He was featured on Bruce Feldman’s popular list of freak athletes in college football for a reason. Standing over 6’3 and 225 pounds with surprising speed, he has always had immense potential. His numbers thus far have been lackluster, but the redshirt junior has never had a quarterback who could get him the football consistently.

Now with Daniels in the fold, Ford-Wheaton immediately made an impact with nine grabs for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also dropped an easy catch that was intercepted and returned for the game-winning TD, but nobody is perfect. He was still a big reason they were in the game. If he can avoid drop issues, he could be a name to remember.

Daniels had a good game in his own right, but his lack of elite arm talent is easy to see — just as it was with Slovis. After failing to win the starting job last season with Georgia, this was Daniels last chance to be a starting QB. I think he will be a good player for the Mountaineers, but his NFL prospects seem unlikely to materialize.

NFL Draft Prospect of the Game: Dante Stills

The final and maybe most impressive player I was watching for was Dante Stills. The interior defensive lineman has made a huge impact for the Mountaineers. He was excellent in 2021 for the West Virginia defense, racking up seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

At 6’4, 285 pounds, he is an excellent athlete with plenty of quickness and get-off to pressure the QB. What I was most intrigued by in this game, though, was seeing him line up on the edge on early downs, and then kicking inside on passing downs.

That versatility will be important with him being a bit light for an interior player, but his play strength didn’t seem like an issue this game. He finished with a sack and a half to go along with a forced fumble and five total tackles.

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Game Recap

Nebraska vs. Northwestern
Mandatory Credit: Ben McShane-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska vs. Northwestern was the first significant Power Five bout of the 2022 college season, finishing in a tight Wildcats 31-28 victory. The game did not disappoint with plenty of exciting plays made by both squads in a classic BIG 10 matchup.

Although it was an incredible victory for Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, the loss by Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers marks another entry into a rather disappointing tenure. 

Game Recap

Nebraska got off to a hot start on Saturday, coming out of the gate with a beautiful 32-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda from Texas transfer Casey Thompson. The two teams traded series until the Wildcats managed a field goal, putting the score at 7-3. The Cornhuskers would finish the first quarter with another great touchdown from Thompson, giving Nebraska a two-score lead. 

Fitzgerald’s Wildcats would answer in the beginning of the second with a long touchdown pass of their own from quarterback Ryan Hilinski. After another series trade, Northwestern ended the half taking a 17-14 lead. After a failed field goal attempt before halftime, the Cornhuskers would score two more times and recover a Northwestern fumble, giving them a 28-17 lead. 

Nebraska would attempt a now controversial onside kick, which was recovered by the Wildcats, leading to three-yard Cam Porter touchdown. The third quarter would end with both defenses forcing punts, while Northwestern missed a 36-yard field goal. Despite this, the Wildcats secondary would make a crucial play after intercepting Thompson. 

The interception led to another Wildcats touchdown, bringing the score to 31-28. Both teams would trade defensive blows, culminating in another Thompson interception that would ultimately seal the game for Northwestern. This was a great win for the Wildcats, giving them plenty of momentum for their next game against Duke. For Nebraska, they’ll have a chance to rebound next week against North Texas. 

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Offensive Prospect Review

Nebraska vs. Northwestern was surprisingly more quarterback-centric than one would have expected heading in. Thompson had some incredible plays throughout the game, finishing the evening going 25/42, passing for 355 yards for one touchdown and two interceptions.

Despite some questionable decisions later on, Thompson’s playmaking ability was on full display throughout the game. His most exciting play came on a ridiculous scramble out of pressure, only to make a deep throw to Garcia-Castaneda. 

However the more consistent of the two quarterbacks was undoubtedly Northwestern’s Ryan Hilinski. After struggling to find consistency in 2021, Hilinski looked smooth throughout this first game of the year.

Hilinski made some nice throws, showing good placement overall and some solid arm strength as well. He would finish the night 27/38 for 314 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

By far the most exciting offensive player on the field was running back Evan Hull for Northwestern. Hull was one of the top prospects to watch in Nebraska vs. Northwestern after having a breakout 2021 campaign. Hull looked unchanged from last year, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He also did some work through the air, catching five passes for 55 yards. 

Cornhuskers junior running back Anthony Grant also had an impressive night, finishing with 101 yards on 19 attempts. Grant showed great speed with contact balance on his long running touchdown and could be on the draft radar going forward. 

As for Nebraska’s pass catchers, Garcia-Castaneda was the most explosive weapo,n however the most intriguing was tight end Travis Vokolek. Despite leaving the game due to injury, Vokolek looked good catching the football, using his soft hands and speed to eat up yards against Northwestern’s second level defenders. Luckily for Nebraska, Vokolek appears to be fine after suffering what he described as a “minor ankle injury”. 

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Defensive Prospect Review

It was a relatively quiet night for the Nebraska pass rushing group, with none of their trio able to properly get to the quarterback. Garrett Nelson had a few good pressures on Hilinski, in addition to some nice plays against the run. However, he was largely stymied by the pass sets of the Northwestern offensive line. 

Texas transfer Ochaun Mathis was also held without a sack, but flashed some power and athleticism against the Northwestern front. Caleb Tannor had much the same night against the Wildcats, struggling to string together pressures and disrupt the backfield. 

It was the complete opposite for the Northwestern defense however, looking confident and stout despite the numbers on the stat sheet.

Defensive end Adetomiwa Adeboware was incredible for the Wildcats, showing great power through each rep and proving how effective he can be as a run defender. He had several pressures throughout the game that should’ve been sacks, but the senior pass rusher certainly turned some heads. 

However, cornerback Cameron Mitchell was the best overall defender in this game. Mitchell was incredibly sticky in coverage, showing quick feet, acute vision, and tight man skills that allowed to come down with the first interception of the night. Going forward, Mitchell is certainly a player to keep an eye on. 

Nebraska vs. Northwestern Preview: Week 0 Prospect Roundup

Image via NUSports.com

Northwestern vs. Nebraska preview
PHOTO BY CRAIG SULLIVAN

Nebraska vs Northwestern Preview

Let’s take a deep dive into some of the best 2023 NFL Draft prospects in this Nebraska vs Northwestern preview!

College football’s return begins with the annual Week 0 matchups. Although these aren’t the crowd-pleasing matchups that come later in the season, these early games offer a nice appetizer.

By far the most anticipated game in Week 0 is the inter-conference bout between Nebraska and Northwestern. This is the biggest Power Five game, between two teams looking to bounce back.

This BIG 10 rivalry game has the allure of being set in the Irish capital of Dublin, with the actual game taking place at Aviva Stadium. 2022 marks an important year for both teams, especially for Nebraska after coming off a 3-9 season in 2021. Their last win came against Northwestern in the fall of 2021, scoring a whopping 56 points against the Wildcats.

2021 was also a trying season for the Northwestern Wildcats, finishing the season with the same record as their opponents at 3-9. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald hopes to rebound in 2022, hopefully through their downhill rushing attack lead by their impressive room of running backs.

More important than their individual team aspirations are the draft prospects found within each team. Both squads have plenty of talent on their rosters with each varying in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. The following list will attempt to preview all of the 2023 NFL Draft prospects you should care about as you watch this exciting Week 0 matchup of Nebraska vs Northwestern.

Nebraska vs Northwestern Preview: NFL Draft Prospects

Northwestern 

Evan Hull – Running Back 

The Wildcats haven’t been known for their offensive star power. However, that doesn’t mean they lack talent at the skill positions. In the last five years, players such as running back Justin Jackson and wide receiver Ben Skowronek haven’t been the most impressive prospects, but have carved out roles at the next level nonetheless. This year, the Northwestern Wildcats have another solid skill player in running back Evan Hull. 

Hull had a breakout year in 2021, amassing 1009 yards rushing at 5.1 yards-per-carry on almost 200 touches. Additionally, he rushed for seven touchdowns while catching another two through the air.

At 5-11, 210 pounds, Hull has a dense build that allows him to carry good strength in his lower body to churn out runs down the field. He’s not an elite-level athlete, at least on tape, however, he shows good fluidity in between the tackles that allows him to create extra yards. 

Playing against a stout Cornhuskers front, Hull will have a chance to showcase his ability and potentially get more eyes to his game. He’s certainly an underrated prospect coming out of the summer, but is certainly worth some attention in Week 0 this Saturday. 

Peter Skoronski – Offensive Tackle 

Similar to his former teammate and 2021 first-round pick Rashawn Slater, Wildcats offensive lineman Peter Skoronski is Northwestern’s biggest offensive star by a long shot. Skoronski is considered to be one of the top offensive tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft, and one of the best players in the BIG 10 Conference. 

Skoronski shows excellent power with a crisp anchor, having great lower half strength that helps him to supplant opponents with little issue. He’s an excellent mover in the second level, with his foot quickness and hip fluidity allowing him to take advantageous angles to his targets.

The biggest draw to Skoronski’s game, however, is his versatility — or rather — potential positional versatility. Skoronski lacks elite arm length, so there are questions as to whether he’ll stick at offensive tackle or not. He’s had experience at center, which should open up different opportunities for him to see the field. 

As mentioned above, the Cornhusker’s front seven looks to be stout this year, with their pass rushing possessing a three-headed rotation that could give Skoronski some struggles on Saturday. Even so, Skoronski could quickly cement himself as one of the top tackles if he comes out sharp against Nebraska

Adetomiwa Adebawore – Defensive End 

Where Northwestern has begun to shine over the last five years is with its defense. A few edge rushers such as Earnest Brown IV, Dean Lowry, and Ifeadi Odenigbo have made it to the league — with varying degrees of initial success. This year Adetomiwa Adebawore could be the next Wildcat edge rusher to make his way to the professional level. 

Adebawore was recently featured on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks Lists, where he was highlighted for his impressive strength and weight room prowess. He also showed good numbers in the three-cone drill as well, reflecting the above-average change of direction skills found in his college film. He has solid first-step quickness that will allow him to establish leverage while using that elite strength to maintain gaps. 

Adebawore was not a highly thought of player initially by yours truly after summer scouting, but after more film study his stock has begun to rise a little bit in my rankings. He has a great opportunity to make some noise this weekend against a Nebraska offensive line that lacks elite talent. Adebawore is a solid day three prospect at this point and could continue to rise if he builds off of a promising 2021. 

Cameron Mitchell – Cornerback 

Greg Newsome was great for the Wildcats and quickly became among one of the best cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Newsome was a quick riser in that draft class after not being a widely discussed prospect for much of the early process. This isn’t to say that Cameron Mitchell will reach the same heights as his former teammate, however, he is one of the BIG 10’s best-kept secrets. 

Mitchell plays outside corner for the Wildcats and, despite not possessing elite ball production, there are still elements of his game that show some promise. Mitchell plays with quick feet and solid fluidity in his hips, allowing him to be a relatively successful man-coverage corner with some good activity in his hands.

At this point, Mitchell is an underrated prospect but looks to have a good weekend against the Cornhusker’s receivers. 

Nebraska

Casey Thompson – Quarterback 

The Texas Longhorns had a down 2021 season under their first year with Steve Sarkisian, although quarterback Casey Thompson was one of the bright spots for the team. Now at Nebraska, the 23-year-old passer aims to guide the Cornhuskers to the promised land in the BIG 10 in 2022.

Thompson possesses some good athletic traits when using his legs, with great foot quickness which allows him to break off big runs down the field. He has a solid arm, too, and has several instances where he’s been able to astutely press the ball downfield. 

Although it’s unlikely that Thompson will be considered among the ranks of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, he could carve out a nice place for himself in the 2023 draft class. And that journey starts on Saturday. 

Travis Vokolek – Tight End

Chase Allen was the focus at tight end for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Now that duty has turned over to Travis Vokolek. With Zavier Betts off the team, there isn’t a top-end pass catcher for Thompson to rely on. Vokolek has nice speed with solid hands, but in a deep tight end class he’ll need to find his footing.

Ochaun Mathis – EDGE 

Nebraska’s second biggest offseason addition is pass rusher Ochaun Mathis. The former Horned Frog transferred this year after having a solid career at Texas Chrisitan. He finished his career at TCU with 12.5 sacks and 26 tackles for a loss, with eight of those sacks coming during the 2020 season.

Mathis already has many fans in the draft community, but will have an excellent opportunity to gain more with a great performance on Saturday. 

Mathis already possesses some solid athletic traits, showing a good initial step and change of direction skills when operating from gap-to-gap. He stands at 6-5, 260 pounds, possessing great length for the edge position with enough mass to anchor versus the run. Mathis is still learning the finer points of pass rushing, but has the potential to improve and showed plenty of promise in 2021. 

Caleb Tannor – EDGE 

By far the biggest unknown out of every player mentioned here is the “other” edge rusher at Nebraska, Caleb Tannor. After starting only a handful of games in 2020, Tannor made the jump to full-time in 2021 and the results were not disappointing. While he didn’t necessarily crush the stat sheet, the raw athleticism on display was something to behold. 

Similar to Mathis, Tannor is still somewhat raw as a pass rusher. However, he can absolutely supplant tackles with speed-to-power, using his length to stun offensive linemen and drive them deeper into the backfield. He has an incredible burst off the line of scrimmage, while his body control allows him to play underneath his opponents.

Tannor vs. Skoronski will be must-see television on Saturday. 

Garrett Nelson – EDGE 

The final pass rusher in the Cornhuskers’ Hydra linebacking core is veteran and reigning team sack leader,  Garrett Nelson. Coming off of a six-sack 2021, the lead pass rusher of Nebraska is an underrated prospect in this class. He’s not as athletically gifted as his teammates, but Nelson still has plenty of talent of his own and is certainly worth a look going forward. 

Nelson has solid hand technique when operating as a pass rusher, but still relies heavily on effort and power. More so than his teammates, it will be interesting to see what improvements he’s made as a run defender. Run defense was not his strongest suit in 2021, with him struggling to set a physical edge against the inter-conference competition. He’ll likely see snaps against Skoronski as well, so viewers will get the chance to see how he fairs against top talent early on. 

Luke Reimer – Linebacker 

The final prospect in this preview is the Cornhuskers’ 2021 tackles leader in linebacker Luke Reimer. Reimer isn’t an elite-level athlete but has proven he can make consistent plays against the run. The 2021 All-Big 10 Honorable Mention is one of the teams’ top defenders, and its easy to see why.

Reimer has shown on film how easily he deconstructs blocks, using hand force and body positioning to stave off potential blocks. He’s quick on the hoof against the run, and tries to be the first player to the football. He’s deceptively sticky in man coverage versus tight ends, but will not be heavily relied upon in that regard. Reimer is still a junior and may not even declare this year. However, he’s still worthy of your time.