Huskers Set for Next Step in NFL
Several Huskers reached agreements with National Football League teams following completion of the NFL Draft this past weekend.
Seven Huskers have signed deals with NFL teams and will take the first step in their professional careers at upcoming minicamps. The group includes offensive lineman Tanner Farmer (Colts, Texans), Jerald Foster (Giants) and Cole Conrad (Vikings), linebackers Luke Gifford (Cowboys) and Dedrick Young (Browns), receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. (Bengals), running back Devine Ozigbo (Saints) and safety Aaron Williams (Cardinals)
Morgan signed with the Bengals after a record-setting Nebraska career. He finished his four years in Lincoln as Nebraska's all-time leader in receptions (189) and receiving yards (2,747). As a senior, Morgan also became the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season with a school-record 1,004 yards, eclipsing his own school record of 986 receiving yards from 2017. Morgan was a second-team All-Big Ten choice for his play, earning all-conference accolades for the second straight season.
Morgan was one of only 28 FBS players to have 1,000 receiving yards during the 2018 regular season. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, Morgan also caught a career-high 70 passes as a senior, becoming the first Husker wide receiver to have 70 catches in a season. Morgan caught at least two passes in every game in 2018, ending his career with a reception in 38 straight games, a school record for most consecutive games with a catch.
Ozigbo will join the New Orleans Saints after he enjoyed his best season in his final year as a Husker in 2018, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference media and honorable-mention accolades from the league's coaches. Ozigbo was Nebraska's leading rusher, gaining 1,082 yards with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Ozigbo became the first Husker since Ameer Abdullah in 2014 to rush for 1,000 yards, and Ozigbo's 1,082 rushing yards as a senior nearly matched the total from his first three seasons combined (1,114). While becoming the 26th Husker to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, Ozigbo averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per carry, ranking 11th nationally in that category and posting the seventh-highest yards-per-carry average in Nebraska history among players with at least 150 carries.
Ozigbo averaged 90.2 rushing yards per game in 2018, and he also set career highs with 23 receptions and 203 receiving yards. The Texas native finished his Nebraska career with 2,196 rushing yards to rank in a tie for 25th in NU history.
Farmer, Foster and Conrad formed the nucleus of the interior of the Nebraska offensive line the past two seasons. Farmer earned mini-camp tryouts with the Colts and Texans, while Foster will get an opportunity with the New York Giants and Conrad will attend a Minnesota Vikings camp.
Farmer appeared in 12 games with 11 starts in 2018, and was a versatile performer for the Huskers. He started the first three games at right guard and the final eight contests at center. In his eight starts at center, Nebraska averaged 478.9 yards of total offense per game.
Foster was one of only 11 two-time captains in Nebraska school history. The Lincoln native played his final season as a graduate student, starting all 12 games at left guard. Foster, who started the final 23 games of his career at left guard helped Nebraska post the second-highest improvement in rushing yards per game from the 2017 to 2018 season. Overall, the Huskers averaged 456.2 yards of total offense per game in 2018 - the program's highest total in six years - while producing more than 560 yards of offense in four games.
Conrad was limited by injury as a senior, but played in seven games while starting the first four games at center. The Fremont, Neb., native played in 32 games during his Nebraska career and showed his versatility by playing numerous spots on the line.
Farmer, Foster, Conrad and the offensive line helped Nebraska post its most yards (659 against Minnesota) and highest point total (53 against Illinois) in a Big Ten Conference game since the Huskers joined the league in 2011. Individually, four different Huskers had a 100-yard rushing game in 2018 and three different Huskers had a 100-yard receiving game, while true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez rewrote the Nebraska freshman record books while setting a school record with seven 300-yard total offense games. Nebraska also produced its first 1,000-yard receiver in school history in 2018 and had its first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014.
The 6-4, 245-pound Gifford started all 12 games as a senior in 2018 and will join the Dallas Cowboys. He was a leader for the Blackshirts and set career highs in nearly every statistical category while earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition.
Gifford totaled a career-high 62 tackles in 2018 after recording 47 tackles in his first three seasons combined. He led Nebraska with 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, both of which were career highs. His 13 TFLs tied for the most by a Husker since the 2014 season, and Gifford's 5.5 sacks tied for the highest total by a Husker linebacker since the 2005 season. Gifford also forced the first fumble of his career in 2018 and had career highs of two pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries.
Dedrick Young II will join the Cleveland Browns after he completed an outstanding career by registering a career-high 83 tackles in 2018. Young started all 12 games as a senior and ranked second on the team with his 83 tackles while becoming the first player in Nebraska history to have four 60-tackle seasons. He had at least three tackles in all 12 games, including eight games with at least seven tackles. Young also had three TFLs as a senior, and he broke up a career-high five passes and recorded his first career interception. Young finished his career with 284 tackles, the fifth-highest total in Nebraska history.
Safety Aaron Williams will join the Arizona Cardinals after being a fixture in the Nebraska secondary the past four years. He played in all 12 games as a senior, starting the final 11 contests. He led the Husker secondary and ranked third on the team with a career-high 70 tackles. Williams had nine games with five or more tackles, helping him to become the sixth Nebraska defensive back to total 200 career tackles. Williams also intercepted one pass, had four pass breakups, one fumble and three tackles for loss in his senior season.