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Top 40 Huskers for 2021: 26-30

Voting Criteria: Player’s importance to the team in 2021, overall talent, and future potential for the upcoming season. A player’s long-term/NFL prospects were not taken into consideration.

Voting Panel: Publisher Sean Callahan, senior writer Robin Washut, videographer Gregg Peterson, KETV Sports Director Andy Kendeigh, and HOL intern Abby Barmore.

Previous rankings: 36-40 | 31-35

30. Matt Sichterman, OL, Sr.

Senior offensive lineman Matt Sichterman. (Nate Clouse)

Right guard was one of the most notable position battles on Nebraska’s offensive depth chart going into spring practice.

While that competition will continue on through fall camp, Matt Sichterman may have emerged as the early front runner for the job.

It’s still early in the offseason, but the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder got the lion’s share of reps as the No. 1 right guard spot during spring ball.

If he stays on his current track, the fifth-year junior could be on track to win a starting job this year.

29. Connor Culp, K, Sr.

Senior kicker Connor Culp.

Senior kicker Connor Culp. (Associated Press)

Nebraska knew it was getting a much-needed upgrade at place kicker when it landed Connor Culp as a transfer from LSU last offseason.

But no one would have predicted the Huskers would be getting the best kicker in the Big Ten.

By hitting 13-of-15 field goals and all 20 of his extra points, Culp was named first-team All-Big Ten and won the Baaken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year award.

With the free season of eligibility granted because of COVID-19, the sixth-year senior is back again in 2021 to give NU invaluable reliability in the kicking game.

28. Marvin Scott III, RB, Fr.

Freshmen running back Marvin Scott III.

Freshmen running back Marvin Scott III. (Tyler Krecklow)

Marvin Scott III arrived in Lincoln last year with relatively high fan expectations as a true freshman.

But COVID-19 disruptions and an overall inconsistent Nebraska running game kept those hopes from ever gaining much traction.

The former three-star recruit out of Daytona Beach, Fla., finished with just 71 yards on 24 carries in his five appearances and one start last year.

Scott has an opportunity to make his case for the starting running back job this year, and he took some steps toward that this spring.

He led all rushers in the Spring Game with 75 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

27. Nick Henrich, ILB, RFr.

Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Nick Henrich.

Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Nick Henrich. (Tyler Krecklow)

After cross-training at inside and outside linebacker over the last two seasons, Nick Henrich finally found his home on the inside toward the end of last year.

When given the opportunity to vault up the depth chart following an injuries to Collin Miller and Luke Reimer, the former Omaha (Neb.) Burke standout made sure to capitalize on his chances.

Henrich racked up a team-high 12 tackles in his first start in the finale at Rutgers. After filling in for Reimer in the loss to Minnesota, Henrich had 21 tackles over the final two games of 2020 and ranked eighth on the team with 27 on the season.

He’s likely the third inside ‘backer behind projected starters Reimer and Chris Kolarevic, but Henrich will undoubtedly be ready when his name is called.

26. Pheldarius Payne, OLB, Jr.

Junior outside linebacker Pheldarius Payne.

Junior outside linebacker Pheldarius Payne. (Getty Images)

Pheldarius Payne was one of the more pleasant surprises for Nebraska in 2020, finishing with 21 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, and two pass breakups while playing in all eight games outside linebacker.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound native of Suffolk, Va., committed to NU as a transfer from Lackawanna (Penn.) Community College.

Despite some setbacks due to injury and COVID-19, Payne still established himself as a fixture in Nebraska’s defensive rotation.

He’ll continue to battle with Garrett Nelson for a starting job this season, but he will continue to have a major role for the Blackshirts whether he’s a starter or not.

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