5 Players to Watch on the Nebraska Defense in 2023

2022 was a very disappointing season for the Huskers’ defense. The defense allowed 27.6 points per game, which ranked 77th in the country. Looking at the year before, Nebraska had the 36th-best scoring defense in the country. 

Former Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander was fired after the 49-14 loss to Oklahoma at home.

There is hope of the 2023 season being much better for the Blackshirts as Tony White, the former defensive coordinator from Syracuse, was brought in to coach.

In 2022, Coach White had the Syracuse defense only allowing 23.1 points per game, which was 41st in the country. 

MORE: Offensive Nebraska players to watch in 2023

Coach White brings in the 3-3-5 defensive system and that should bring challenges for opposing offenses in 2023 and on.

With the resources at Nebraska, Coach White should be able to bring the players that he wants to beef up that side of the ball at a much higher level than at Syracuse. 

It’s already been seen with this past off-season with all of the talents picked up in the 2023 class and transfer portal class

With that being said, here are the five Blackshirts to watch for Nebraska in 2023.

Nebraska Defenders to Watch in 2023

Luke Reimer (Linebacker, Senior)

The senior linebacker has been the leading tackler for Huskers for the past two seasons, with 86 in 2022 and 108 in 2021.

He has had a heck of a story from being a walk-on in his freshman year to being the leading tackler for the past two seasons on scholarship.

Reimer has been honored as an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention for the past two seasons and will be looking to build off past successes in 2023.

If Reimer can stay healthy in 2023, he is primed for a very successful season in Coach White’s 3-3-5 system.

Cameron Lenhardt (Defensive Lineman, Freshman)

Cameron Lenhardt was one of the most coveted defensive linemen coming out of IMG Academy. As a senior in Brandenton, Lenhardt recorded 21 total tackles, with seven tackles for loss.

Already as a freshman, Lenhardt will be competing for starting sport on the defensive line. Coach Matt Rhule said that he and sophomore Blaise Gunnerson are competing for the starting lineup.

Regardless, Lenhardt should get playing time as a true freshman and should be someone to watch in 2023.

Malcolm Hartzog (Cornerback, Sophomore)

Malcolm Hartzog had an impressive season as a freshman in 2022. Hartzog burst onto the scene with a blocked punt return touchdown against Indiana.

Hartzog would go on and lead the team in interceptions with three through all 12 games. He would accumulate 22 total tackles including one for loss.

With all of that, if Hartzog can build off his impressive 2022, he should have a successful 2023 season for the Blackshirts.

M.J. Sherman (Linebacker, Junior)

M.J. Sherman, a transfer from Georgia, comes to Nebraska with the experience of what it’s like to win two national championships in a row. 

Unfortunately for Sherman, he comes to Lincoln with limited experience, with only 14 total tackles from 2020-2022. Despite this, Sherman is expected to have a major role on the 2023 defense and is a part of one of the most talented positions on the defense as well. 

The junior linebacker is somebody to watch for a breakout season in 2023, especially with the aforementioned 3-3-5 defense. With his potential, he could be a force to be reckoned with in this upcoming season. 

Princewill Umanmielen (Defensive Line, Freshman)

Along with Lenhardt, Princewill Umanmielen is a freshman to watch for having an immediate impact on the Blackshirts. 

Umanmielen was a four-star coming out of Manor High School in Manor, Texas. He earned an invitation to the High School All-American Bowl after being named a consensus top 300 prospect in high school. 

In his final two seasons at Manor, Umanmielen accumulated 130 total tackles, including 47 for loss and 21 total sacks in 22 total games. He was named as the district defensive lineman as a senior and was ranked as a top 25 edge rusher by 247 Sports. 

The Season is Around the Corner

The 2023 season can’t come any faster and there is a lot to look forward to. With the additions in high school recruiting and the transfer portal, the defense should be improved in 2023. 

There will come some kinks that will be needed to be fixed, especially with implementing a new defensive system. Despite that, the 3-3-5 defense has the potential of being a very tough matchup for opponents every week. 

Main Image: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

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