Red-White Spring Game, 5.1

White Team quarterback Heinrich Haarberg (10) scrambles away from David Alston as head coach Scott Frost looks on during the Red-White Spring Game on May 1 at Memorial Stadium.

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Nebraska reserve outside linebacker David Alston is transferring and his name is in the NCAA’s transfer portal as of Friday morning.

The Huskers also appear to have a defensive back targeted to use one of their two remaining spots for the 2021 class.

So, it’s time for some scholarship math.

Official business first. Alston, a St. Paul, Minnesota, native, did not appear in a game in his three years at Nebraska.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder was part of NU's transition class in 2018, a holdover player who was originally recruited by former coach Mike Riley's class and then re-recruited by Scott Frost and company in the mad dash to put together (and keep together) a class when Frost first arrived on campus. He graduated in May and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

His departure puts Nebraska at 79 scholarships that count against the 85-man limit, plus five super seniors that do not count.

Now, here’s where the interest grows. Of those six remaining spots, remember, only two can be used for incoming scholarship transfers this summer.

Nebraska hosted former five-star recruit and Ohio State defensive back Tyreke Johnson on an official visit earlier this month and, since at least midafternoon Wednesday, Johnson’s name appears in UNL’s directory as an enrolled student.

That’s a significant sign pointing toward Johnson becoming a Husker this summer, but it does not guarantee it. Johnson is not bound to Nebraska and he does not count against NU’s 25-man class for 2021 until he attends a class or receives financial aid, which at this point would happen in July at the earliest. NU does not want transfers signing conference tenders — a transfer version of a national letter of intent, generally speaking — because it ties up the scholarship but does not bind the player to the school.

Neither NU nor Johnson has commented on the matter publicly, though there's nothing school officials can say about players who are not signed. 

Nonetheless, one of the two remaining spots figures to be — but is not guaranteed to be — Johnson.

Another interesting data point: NU offered Iowa Western Community College defensive lineman Jordan van den Berg after a workout last week (he has since verbally committed to Penn State) but, per reports, told him he’d go on scholarship beginning in January and, thus, count toward the 2022 class.

That indicates that Nebraska is not planning on rolling one of its two spots forward. If they were, they could have just offered van den Berg as a 2021 player.

Should Nebraska use both of those spots — ideally, it appears, on Johnson and one other player — it will be at 81 out of 85. Those four extra spots can be given to walk-ons.

Running back Jaquez Yant has already announced his new status as a scholarship player and the Huskers have several more walk-ons that are in contention for them, likely including kicker Connor Culp; wide receivers Levi Falck, Oliver Martin and Wyatt Liewer; offensive lineman Nouredin Nouili; and defensive lineman Colton Feist, plus potentially others.

Still, 2022’s 85-man scholarship limit comes into consideration in that equation, too. Because of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, all but six of Nebraska’s current scholarship players could theoretically return. That won’t happen, of course. Cam Taylor-Britt has already said this will be his last season and NU has myriad other juniors and sophomores who will have decisions to make after the 2021 season. Culp and Falck are super seniors, so they can go on scholarship for 2021 without taking up space for the 2022 roster.

That puzzle will sort itself out eventually, but there are interesting decisions ahead still this summer, into camp and beyond for Nebraska.  

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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