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Summer Position Previews: Defensive Line

All Huskers on FanNation logo All Huskers on FanNation 7/29/2022 Cole Stukenholtz
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Thin and inexperienced is an understatement

Looking ahead to the 2022 Nebraska football season, we’re rounding up all of the departures, newcomers, and the returners in a summer position–by–position breakdown series.

If you want to also consume this content in radio form, check out the KLIN Husker Hour podcast here.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Departures

Damion Daniels (Jr)

Ben Stille (Sr)

Deontre Thomas (Jr)

Chris Walker (Jr)

Jordan Riley (transfer to Oregon)

Casey Rogers (transfer to Oregon)

Tate Wildeman (retired from football)

Newcomers

Devin Drew (Jr, transfer, Texas Tech)

Stephon Wynn (Jr, transfer, Alabama)

Returners

Ty Robinson (So)

Nash Hutmacher (So)

Marquis Black (RFr)

Ru’Quan Buckley (RFr)

Mosai Newsom (So)

Jailen Weaver (RFr)

Thin and inexperienced is an understatement.

Nebraska enters the 2022 season dangerously low on proven production on the defensive line. Five of their top six tacklers – the only six with more than one tackle in 2021 – are gone.

Ben Stille led the 2017 Huskers in sacks and tackles for loss as a redshirt freshman, the only freshman on record to lead Nebraska in either category. He started 34 games for the Big Red, including 20 consecutive to finish his career. The Ashland native ended up with 149 tackles, 30 TFLs, and 14.5 sacks. He was also recognized as an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer for the 2021 season.

Damion Daniels was also honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2021 and was a team captain, starting in 11 games before an injury kept him from playing against Iowa. He played all eight games in 2020, starting three. In total, Daniels played 43 games, started 15, and tallied 78 stops in his career.

Deontre Thomas started one game and played in 40 as a Husker, making 60 tackles.

Casey Rogers also made a single start, playing 15 games and totaling 42 tackles.

Even Jordan Riley played in 17 games over the past two seasons, logging 8 tackles during his brief stint in Lincoln.

Five departures, all with at least 15 games’ experience, two honorable mention all-conference honorees, and a captain.

In addition to all that production going out the door, so did DL coach Tony Tuioti. Oregon picked up Tuioti for their coaching staff, and then welcomed Riley and Rogers from the transfer portal as well.

So who did NU keep? Ty Robinson. The fourth-year sophomore enters 2022 with 11 starts under his belt. After playing three games in a redshirt 2019 season, he played in every game in 2020 and 2021, contributed 44 tackles, six for a loss, and a pair of sacks.

Also staying, and returning to a familiar role, is Mike Dawson. The outside linebackers coach in 2020 and 2021, Dawson coached the Husker defensive line in 2018. This year, he’ll lead both spots, as the group of edge defenders will likely spend plenty of time lined up on the line of scrimmage with their teammates on the interior.

After Casey Rogers’ surprising decision to transfer in April, Nebraska wasted no time in nabbing a couple Power-5 conference players from the portal in May.

Devin Drew, who had yet to arrive in Lincoln as of the first day of fall camp July 27, started 12 games and played 23 for Texas Tech over the past two seasons. Drew collected 55 total tackles for the Red Raiders. Prior to that, he was a junior college All-American at Iowa Western in 2019.

The other transfer, Stephon Wynn, comes from perennial power Alabama. He made 16 tackles in 21 games over four years with the Crimson Tide.

Robinson and Drew have by far the most experience playing at this level of football, with Wynn next on that list.

Outside of Ty Robinson and the two transfers, Nebraska has next to nothing in terms of proven depth. Marquis Black has played in two games, Ru’Quan Buckley one. Buckley did make one tackle last year. Hutmacher, who has played in 12 games, has yet to pick up his first tackle. Same with Newsom, who played in just one game in 2020. Weaver got one tackle his his only game in 2021.

That’s five players, four of whom have played in only one or two games, and a mere two total tackles among them.

Dangerous.

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