JD Spielman, Nebraska's top wide receiver, enters transfer portal after previously taking absence from team

JD Spielman won’t be back in a Nebraska uniform.

According to Husker Online and several other outlets, Spielman, who is third all time in Nebraska history in receptions and receiving yards, entered his name into the transfer portal on Monday. Per Husker Online, the parting of ways was a “mutual” decision with both sides looking for “a fresh start.”

The news comes three months after Nebraska announced that Spielman had stepped away from the program and was back in his home state of Minnesota dealing with “a personal matter.”

“JD Spielman is dealing with a personal health matter currently, and at this time is not expected to participate in spring practices,” Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said March 2. “Everyone’s focus right now is on JD’s well-being and providing him with the appropriate support.”

At the time, Frost said he was expecting to have Spielman back in Lincoln ahead of the 2020 season. Spielman’s decision to make himself available to other universities pretty much puts an end to that expectation.

Spielman was a consistent contributor for the Huskers throughout his career. Entering 2020, his senior year, Spielman ranked third all-time in program history in receptions (170) and receiving yards (2,546). Spielman led the team with 49 catches for 898 yards in 2019. He has 15 career touchdown catches and has also combined for three special teams touchdowns — one kickoff return and two punt returns — in his Nebraska career.

But Spielman has not graduated from Nebraska, per Husker Online, and would likely need a waiver to be immediately eligible at another school next season.

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 02: Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver JD Spielman (10) runs up the field after a catch during the college football game between the Purdue Boilermakers and Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 2, 2019, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
JD Spielman leaves Nebraska at No. 3 in program history in both receptions and receiving yards. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

What’s next at wide receiver for Nebraska?

The Huskers have underperformed thus far under Frost, who returned to his alma mater after a historic run as the head coach at UCF. Frost is just 9-15 (6-12 Big Ten) in Lincoln and is now entering his third season leading Nebraska.

The presence of a steady performer like Spielman would have been a boon for the Nebraska offense, especially for quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez had an uneven sophomore campaign, but could always rely on Spielman in the passing game.

Now, with Spielman out of the picture, sophomore Wan’Dale Robinson will likely step into an even bigger role after posting 40 catches for 453 yards as a true freshman. Beyond Robinson, Nebraska’s 2020 crop of receiver recruits will have plenty of opportunities to see the field early in their college careers.

In all, five receivers signed with the Huskers in 2020, including three four-star prospects. According to Rivals, that wide receiver group ranks behind only Ohio State and Georgia for the 2020 class. Zavier Betts, a Nebraska native, is the highest-ranked of the bunch at No. 59 in the country and No. 12 at his position.

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