Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Heinrich Haarberg (10) passes against the Maryland Terrapins during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska Football Spring Position Preview: Quarterbacks

The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team began its spring practice Monday as head football coach Matt Rhule begins his second spring in Lincoln. The 2023 season didn’t end how many expected, especially with the Huskers holding a 5-3 record going into the final month. However, Nebraska returns 77% of production from last season, and with a good group of early enrollees and transfer portal pickups, spring will be interesting. The position that every Husker fan will be watching will be the quarterbacks. Of course, one of the most important, if not the most important position on the football field. 2023 was not a great year for the position for Nebraska. The Huskers had three different starters, all struggling, and no quarterback threw over 1,000 passing yards. 

However, there are new faces in the position group, which will bring some parity to a group that needed change after a rough season a year ago. Here is a quarterback positional preview for Nebraska football this spring one by one with each player in the group. 

Nebraska Football Position Preview: Quarterbacks

Scholarship players

Dylan Raiola (Freshman, Buford, GA)

You can’t talk about this position group without talking about the first five-star recruit Nebraska has landed since Marlon Lucky, a five-star running back from 2005. Dylan Raiola, the headline commitment for the highest-ranked recruiting class (No. 18) the Huskers have had since 2019. 

Raiola, who is an early enrollee, has already made an impact through winter conditioning. Rhule said during his press conference last week that Raiola comes into the facility early and does quarterback workouts before joining the team for weightlifting. He even participated in last week’s Pro Day where he showed off his arm talent to NFL scouts, which is interesting with the fact that he hasn’t even taken a college snap yet. 

Raiola is obviously expected to land the starting job when the regular season rolls around but Rhule has said that he will have to earn it. 

However, it would be surprising if Raiola isn’t named the game one starter. But till then, he will be the main storyline this spring and many Nebraska fans will come out to the spring game at the end of April to see Raiola in a Husker uniform. 

Heinrich Haarberg (Junior, Kearney, NE)

Junior Heinrich Haarberg is the only returning quarterback from a season ago, where Haarberg saw a lot of action after taking the starting job from Jeff Sims in the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies. In 2023, Haarberg appeared in 10 games, completing 77 of 157 passes (49%) for 967 yards with 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also ran the ball a lot with 120 rushes for 477 yards and 5 touchdowns. 

Now going into spring football, Haarberg has a chance at competing for the starting job going into the 2024 season. In 2023, he had pass accuracy issues and forced the ball into coverage which led to turnovers. However, Haarberg’s play style fits an option offense but there were issues with that as well. With the issues being fumbles or just not reading the play right. This obviously will be something that will be worked on, if it hasn’t already. Haarberg’s athleticism has and will be used in different ways. Last season, he lined up as a tight end, where he caught a pass against Minnesota. So, if Haarberg doesn’t land the starting job, he will be the backup and has the potential to come in through different offensive sets. It will be interesting to see what he looks like on April 27 at the Spring Game. Only time will tell. 

Daniel Kaelin (Freshman, Bellevue, NE)

The last of three scholarship quarterbacks at the current moment. Daniel Kaelin, who was an Elite 11 quarterback prospect and competed against Raiola at the camp, will most likely get redshirted this season. Kaelin was the highest-ranked quarterback in the 2023 class in Nebraska and comes to Lincoln alongside two of his wide receivers from Bellevue West High School. Most of the work he has done already has come off the field with recruiting. Kaelin played a huge role in landing Dae’Vonn Hall (Kaelin’s teammate) and high-end four-star tight end Carter Nelson out of Ainsworth High School in Nebraska. 

Last week, Rhule talked about how Kaelin has worked hard alongside Raiola and he said that he has been pleased with Kaelin and the other quarterbacks’ work throughout winter conditioning. Kaelin will work hard and he will compete for playing time next season if he doesn’t get redshirted. Even if he does, Kaelin will be able to play in four games so there is a chance that he will get playing time in 2024. 

Walk-on quarterbacks

Jack Woche (Sophomore, Austin, Texas)

Jack Woche was originally at Ole Miss where he competed in the 2022 spring season in Oxford before transferring to Nebraska. Woche spent his high school career at Vandergrift High School in Austin, Texas before transferring to IMG Academy for his final year. He was one of the first athletes to be allowed to participate in football and baseball at IMG. Woche was a high school national champion at IMG Academy, starting in the title game, completing 7/9 passes for 88 yards, and had 2 rushes for 14 yards and a touchdown. 

Luke Longval (Sophomore, Sioux City, IA)

Luke Longval transferred to Nebraska after being redshirted in his freshman year at Iowa Western Community College. At Sioux City North High School, Longval’s best season was his junior season, where he completed 112-of-196 passes for 1,410 yards and accounted for 14 touchdowns. Before being out for most of his senior season, Longval competed in the Elite 11 Houston regional where he performed well. 

Main Image: © Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

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