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Stefon Thompson Commits to Nebraska

Breaking down the factors that led former Syracuse Orange linebacker Stefon Thompson to Nebraska.

Under head coach Matt Rhule, the Nebraska offense has continued to land quality pieces to rebuild its offense.  This trend started when Dante Dowdell and Texas wide receiver Isaiah Neyor chose the Huskers. And in the second week of January, the Big Red made a splash with the addition of Florida offensive lineman Micah Mazzccua.  Because of these additions, the Cornhuskers offense under Marcus Satterfield is set for a step-up year in 2024. But what about the defense under coordinator Tony White? In that department, the Huskers have only been able to add cornerback Blye Hill to the roster.  However, this changed late on Thursday, January 11th, when the program landed former Syracuse linebacker Stefon Thompson. Let’s break down what factors made him commit to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Production in the 3-3-5 Scheme

As a true freshman for the Syracuse Orange in 2020, Thompson made an immediate impact during the height of the COVID pandemic. In the shortened season, the North Carolina native proved himself under White’s defense by recording 36 tackles and three sacks. And, he made his presence known around the field as well. Specifically, this was shown when he totaled three sacks as well as one forced fumble. But he wouldn’t truly come into his own until his sophomore season. In that time, he proved himself as one of the leaders on the Orange defense with a whopping  77 tackles and four-and-a-half sacks. But can he continue the dominance of the Blackshirts if he comes to Lincoln? This will still be something to watch in the months ahead.

 An Immediate Contributor in 2024?

At the end of the 2023 season, Huskers linebackers coach Rob Dvoracek lost two major pieces in his room. After a season-ending injury, junior Nick Henrich retired from football altogether. And Nebraska got even more bad news when senior Luke Reimer declared for the NFL Draft. These departures certainly are a big hit to the Husker’s depth at the position. But luckily, the program regains the services of Issac Gifford and John Bullock. In the early months of the offseason, this became a big development. After all, their play helped to solidify the Big Red’s 13th-ranked defense last season.  But there is something even more important that Thompson provides. And it’s more insight into White’s scheme. This is something that can benefit all of the defense, and even impact the development of the freshman. But can he use this as an advantage to secure the starting spot? It remains to be seen, but the veteran linebacker certainly has a head start on doing so.  

The Dylan Raiola Effect at Nebraska

Now that Thompson is taking his talents to Lincoln, he will reunite with his former defensive coordinator. And how could he say no? In 2023, the Nebraska Cornhuskers ranked among the five most improved teams in the metrics of rushing defense and total defense. It was also a great year for the Huskers individually, as eight Blackshirts were recognized as All-Big Ten selections. Some of the notable players in this area include safety Omar Brown, cornerback Tommi Hill, and defensive lineman Ty Robinson. But there is also another reason that the Huskers are ahead of the pack. Chalk this up to new five-star quarterback signee Raiola.  At the end of 2023, he helped the Big Red secure another top-20 recruiting class in the country. And in 2024, he’s kept the momentum on the Big Red’s side. Nebraska added Wake Forest wide receiver Jahmal Banks from the transfer portal. And now his gravitational pull has extended to the defense with Nebraska’s addition of Thompson.

 NFL And College Experience

Now that Thompson has committed to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he will join a program that has a good idea about an NFL operation. Remember, Rhule was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers for a short period. Most of Nebraska’s current staffers were there too.  But to truly assess their impact, just look at what they have done for the college game. In  2012, their experience led the Temple Owls to their first 7-0 start as well as two conference championships. And at Baylor, they repeated their process to go 9-0 en route to a Sugar Bowl appearance. It’s even more reason for him to arrive in Lincoln and potentially experience the same thing in Nebraska. This is a good draw for a player who is looking to head to the NFL in the next year or two.

 

 

Photo courtesy: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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