On the offensive side of the football, head coach Matt Rhule and the Nebraska Cornhuskers added 16 new faces to the 2024 recruiting class. But which of these early enrollees have a chance at making an impact?  Let’s take a look at the top players that the Big Red have.

A Star Quarterback

In only two short months with the Huskers, Dylan Raiola has proven himself as a key asset for the Cornhuskers.  After he flipped his commitment to Nebraska in late December, his presence helped the Big Red add former Oregon running back Dante Dowdell, wide receiver Jahmal Banks, and right guard Micah Mazzccua from the transfer portal. And he should be in line to compete as an early enrollee for Nebraska as well.  As a senior at Buford High School, his 65% completion rate allowed him to throw for 34 touchdowns with only one interception.  This is impressive, but at the Polynesian Bowl, he was even better. In the first quarter, he connected with future Nebraska tight end Carter Nelson for a 33-yard reception. And in the third quarter, he was able to strong arm a pass to Tennessee commit Mike Matthews for a 40-yard touchdown. It’s likely that he will have a similar impact at the college level as a freshman. But will he be able to manage all that comes with it?

An Anchor For the Big Red Line

For Huskers offensive line coach Donovan Raiola, Preston Taumua is considered a perfect option as a freshman for Nebraska football. Not only does he have great size at 300 pounds, but his  6’4 stature also makes it hard for defensive linemen to get around him. He demonstrated both of these aspects perfectly in high school.  As a junior, his blocking helped the Waipahu Marauders to an 11-2 record and a division finals appearance. And in January, he was one of the bright spots in the Polynesian Bowl. On the Mauka team, he blocked well for both  Ty McCutcheon and Jake Merklinger. But there is still a concern. Can he provide the same quality of play when he blocks for a star in Dylan? If he does he will have to prove himself against a sixth-year left tackle in Bryce Benhart.


The Position Battle To Watch

At Ainsworth High School, four-star Carter Nelson played quarterback, and running back and had a spot on the defense for his eight-man football team. But he would truly earn his stripes at the wide receiver position. As a junior, he would have 32 catches for 641 yards and 13 touchdowns. This performance allowed him to become a second-team All-Nebraska selection. In his senior season, Nelson would bolster his production even further when he would catch 32 passes for 658 yards and 14 touchdowns. Can he deliver the same explosiveness as a freshman for Nebraska football? It seems like he can because he had a connection going with the five-star at the Polynesian Bowl. The hard part will be if he nabs the starting spot away from tight end  Thomas Fidone. Remember, he was a leading man for the Big Red at tight end last season with  260 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Read more about Carter Nelson  in What Carter Nelson’s Commitment Means For Nebraska 

A Freshman Gem?

In the Husker’s 2024 recruiting class, six sons of former Nebraska players have become early enrollees for the Cornhuskers this season. Of course, the name that carries the most weight would have to be Raiola.  It’s no secret that Dylan acts as the headliner of the Husker’s recruiting class due to his status as one of the top-ranked quarterbacks. His father Donovan played for the Detroit Lions for a number of seasons.  But if we had to pick another name that stands out, Montana native Quinn Clark would be one of them. From 1987 to 1989, his father Ken Clark played a pivotal role in Tom Osborne’s offense. This was shown when he rushed for 3,037 yards and 29 touchdowns. It’s likely that he won’t put up these behemoth numbers at the wide receiver position.  But one can never be too sure of his development under wide receivers coach Garrett McGuire. In fact, he might be a freshman to watch for Nebraska football.   In his senior season at Gallatin High School, he was able to prove this with his 43 receptions for 829 yards. But is this enough for him to beat out Malachi Coleman and Jaylen Lloyd for a starting spot?


Photo courtesy: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

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