Huskers were a winner during 'Roster Season'
The months between the end of the season and the start of spring football are becoming vital in today's college football.
“We have our own portal,” Matt Rhule said, a few days before Christmas. At that point, Nebraska had added just one transfer to the roster—Saint Francis defensive back Blye Hill—but the bigger boost was who the Huskers hadn’t lost. Offensive linemen Bryce Benhart and Ben Scott, defensive lineman Ty Robinson, linebacker John Bullock and defensive back Isaac Gifford opted to play another season in Lincoln. All were starters in 2023.
Rhule prefers a light hand in the transfer portal, but the Huskers did make a handful of additions after the first of the year. Nebraska addressed its most immediate needs by landing two proven receivers (Jahmal Banks, Isaiah Neyor), an offensive linemen who started in the SEC (Micah Mazzccua), a high-upside running back (Dante Dowdell) and perhaps a hidden gem in Blye.1 At quarterback, the staff has so far decided the addition of 5-star Dylan Raiola eliminated the need for a veteran from the portal.
The five transfers will begin their Nebraska careers this month, joining 16 signees from the 2024 recruiting class, including Raiola, who have enrolled early and are already on campus.
Coaches talk about the “middle 8” a lot these days, enough so that it’s not uncommon to hear it mentioned on broadcasts. It refers to the 4 minutes before halftime and the 4 minutes after. Teams that control that stretch tend to win. It can be a chance to double up with back-to-back scores for the team receiving the ball in the second half, the only such chance in the game. It’s why most teams defer to the second half when winning the coin flip.
The college football calendar—crazy and unsustainable as it is right now—has developed its own sort of middle 8. I’m calling it Roster Season, and it bridges the months between fall and spring, the months that include the transfer portal, early signing and, if you want to stretch it, February signing day. What happens there is becoming vitally important in today’s game.
Take stock of where things stand right now, and it’s hard to argue the Huskers weren’t winners this Roster Season.