JD Spielman

JD Spielman (10) catches the ball during the game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

This year was always going to be tough for the Husker receivers, who had to replace one of the most accomplished receivers in program history in Stanley Morgan Jr. However, not many thought it would have been this bad.

The Huskers still returned junior JD Spielman who put together a third 800-yard receiving season for the first time in school history. Spielman’s 49 receptions for 898 yards and five receiving touchdowns led the team in all categories.

He was the one constant in the receiving room, with multiple catches in all but one game, something that no other receiver could say. 

Behind Spielman was true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson, who can’t really be fully counted as a wide receiver as he moved almost permanently to the backfield after the Minnesota game when sophomore running back Maurice Washington left the team.

In the games before that point, Robinson had 336 receiving yards through seven games with 27 receptions and two receiving touchdowns. He also struggled with injuries, missing two of the last three games and leaving the Iowa game after a half.

The third receiver for Nebraska was senior grad transfer Kanawai Noa. Both Robinson and Spielman are smaller and work in the middle of the field, so Noa’s job was to be the boundary threat, which is not his style. Because of this, early in the season he struggled with consistency. Through his first seven games, he only had seven receptions for 74 yards.

Then, against Indiana, he got in a groove as he had three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. That game started a nice streak that saw him go for 171 yards on 10 receptions over three games. But right as he began to find his stride, he fell to a meniscus injury and missed the rest of the season.

Behind those three, there wasn’t much as senior Mike Williams and sophomore Kade Warner were the next two receiving yards leaders. Both had a little over 100 yards receiving on the season. It should be noted that Warner was hurt for much of the year.

Senior Jaron Woodyard and sophomore Jaevon McQuitty were two players who came into the season with a chance to contribute, but both ended the season with under 15 receiving yards to their names.

Redshirt freshman Andre Hunt was one player who was supposed to take a step forward and contribute, but he was suspended for the whole season and more because of a sexual misconduct case, according to ESPN.

Looking forward to next season, the Huskers will need true freshmen scholarship receivers — Darien Chase, Jamie Nance and Demariyon Houston — to take the next step and contribute. They will also likely look at the grad transfer market, similar to last season with Noa, in search of a boundary receiver.

On the recruiting side, the Huskers have a commitment from top in-state wide receiver Zavier Betts who can play outside as he stands at 6-foot-2. They are also the favorite to land the No. 1 JUCO wide receiver in 6-foot-4 Omar Manning. Both recruits have the ability to contribute immediately, which will be necessary next season.

While this season went worse than expected for the Huskers at the wide receiver position, they return their two leading receivers and have potential high-impact recruits on the way.