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Sam McKewon posts about Nebraska football and Harper Murray

Sam McKewon posts about Nebraska football and Harper Murray

Today’s mailbag from Sam McKewon looks at Nebraska’s strengths and weaknesses heading into the 2024 football season, the current status of Harper Murray and some surprising NIL commentary from NU AD Troy Dannen.

Any thoughts on the final outcome for Harper Murray? Any concerns about no reserves being declared for Merritt Beason?

Murray, a Nebraska outfielder who had a breakout freshman year, was charged in separate incidents with both DUI and theft. She’s obviously still on the team — she attended the unveiling of NU’s clay mascot program — and gave a brief TV interview during Harrison Phillips’ skills camp.

Will he miss playing time? Husker coach John Cook said the decision is somewhat “out of my control,” meaning it’s a matter for the student-athlete code of conduct and perhaps athletic director Troy Dannen.

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Based on what I know, Murray is a beloved figure at NU Athletics who wants her to focus on her health, move on and grow from what happened.

As for Beason’s backup – assuming full health, Nebraska will have Murray, Lindsay Krause, Taylor Landfair and Skyler Pierce as outside hitters. One of them, in theory, can “backup” Beason. But Beason’s “backup” last year, Caroline Jurevicius, didn’t play a game before transferring to Penn State. So Beason, if he stays healthy, is a hotshot at righty.

HCMR ‘seems’ to be hitting all the right buttons for FB – but what do you see as this team’s biggest weakness? Which would you say is the greatest power? and what will they improve on the most this season? Can they finally cut down on the turnovers this season?

Nebraska’s biggest strength in 2023, as we saw it, was play along the line of scrimmage. For, say, nine of the 12 games — except for Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa — it did NOT hold its own and make its share of the push, too. The Badgers and Hawkeyes seemed to have a little more punch late in the season than the Huskers, but the gap between those teams and Nebraska has narrowed.

NU’s offensive game in general — and quarterback in particular — needs to improve, and the coaches, to a man, think it will. The receiver seat is deeper, faster, more experienced. Tight end will be a strength. Running back – we’ll see. I’m not sold there and haven’t been for years. And then there’s quarterback, where Nebraska struggled in 2023 and needs to improve in 2024.

The Huskers will, I say. Hiring Glenn Thomas to coach the quarterbacks — and also revamp the offense a bit — will help. Thomas will bring a quicker passing game and some easier answers for the Husker QBs. He will also be a key secondary mentor that will free up Matt Rhule and Marcus Satterfield to embrace their strengths.

Kicker and punter also remain a concern, but that’s a recruiting thing. You have to get the right guys and let them work. Unique positions.

What do you think of the 2025 football recruiting class so far?

It’s good. Nebraska has to hit the best guys on its board — Dawson Merritt, Christian Jones, Chase Loftin and Michael Terry — for me to say it’s great.

I like quarterback TJ Lateef for his accuracy, light feet and ease in the game; quarterback is very hard but makes it look easy. And given the vision Rhule has for the program — recruiting good, sizeable athletes and developing them — Nebraska is adding the right guys at those positions, too.

Merritt, Jones, Loftin and Terry are those special prospects that every big class has. In the 2024 group, Dylan Raiola was obviously an elite quarterback, and those other special prospects were Carter Nelson, Grant Brix, and Mario Buford are those guys, and apparently Vincent Shavers is in that group as well.

What percentage does Dylan Raiola become the starter?

Except for the injury, almost 100%. The coaches will play it cool, close to the vest, and let it play out, but Raiola will take the first snaps against UTEP.

Hi Sam, I’ve been thinking recently about AD Troy Dannen’s comments regarding the NIL in college sports and specifically the NIL situation in Nebraska. Troy noted that Nebraska’s NIL funds are not at $10 million, compared to Oregon/Ohio State’s $23 million. Some members of the media have said that the list simply isn’t worth $23 million and that explains the discrepancy. I was just curious if you had any quick thoughts/reactions to Dannen NIL’s recent comments. You feel like there’s a lot to unpack in what he said, but you’re just curious about your thoughts. Thanks!

Dannen reportedly aired these thoughts at an 1890 Initiative event that ultimately ended up being short shrift on social media.

In short, he had had no reason to bluff donors since 1890, so his numbers are probably in Nebraska. I personally heard the $23 million for Ohio State and I believe that too. Oregon has a lot of money too, but I wonder about the split between Nike boosters and other Oregon boosters. (I wonder because Oregon and Nike have a unique interest in athletics.)

Nebraska has a well-organized NIL, but doesn’t seem to enjoy the funds of many other schools.

That’s a tough question to explore given the relative quiet of these NIL operations, but there are some who would say it’s the fault of former NU athletic director Trev Alberts for not fooling the public about 1890 the way Dannen did the day . he arrived. I guess it is, to some degree, if Nebraska wants to get into the business of giving individual recruits $2 or $3 million for a playing year and the special fundraising effort that goes along with that, plus the fact that Nebraska has a smaller fund. of big donors – who were asked to pay a lot of money for failed trainers. Husker boosters have been treated like money hogs and may be tired of the squeeze.

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