Devin Drew wanted to play lots of snaps, and he wanted to do it close to home. One school on his list checked both boxes.
The Texas Tech transfer defensive lineman committed to Nebraska on Tuesday, ending a three-month tour in the portal and securing a home for his final college football season. His decision by him for the Huskers is another significant step toward restocking a depleted defensive front with a veteran interior presence.
“It was a good opportunity to be there, and they definitely needed me,” Drew said. “And one thing I was looking for when I entered the portal was to be in more of a four-man scheme so I could get a lot more reps at that three-technique. That’s what I’ll be getting at Nebraska.”
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Kansas City product will arrive this summer following two seasons at Iowa Western and two more with the Red Raiders. NU lands his services over other schools the defender visited this spring in TCU, Indiana and Illinois.
Lincoln was Drew’s final stop, and the united vibe between players and coaches won him over. Facilities, fan bases and even NIL considerations were relatively minor for him — he’ll be with the program for only about six months after graduating from Tech in June with a degree in business management.
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“Obviously it’s a good thing when you’ve got the opportunity to put extra money in your pocket,” Drew said. “But it wasn’t nothing like a deciding factor because I’ll be there for less than a year. I’ve got one season left, so it was about trying to find the best fit for me to reach my goals for the future.”
Drew, who played middle linebacker at Raytown (Mo.) High School, walked on at Iowa Western as an unrated prospect and quickly established himself as a starter despite beginning seventh on the depth chart at defensive end. In two seasons he collected 97 tackles — 23½ for loss, including 14½ sacks — along with five forced fumbles and two recoveries, earning NJCAA All-America status and a consensus three-star ranking.
“He’s just a worker,” IWCC coach Scott Strohmeier said. “He takes coaching extremely well and doesn’t make the same mistake twice. When he has to make the plays, he makes the plays. He just does his job.”
Drew chose Texas Tech over contenders including Maryland, North Texas and SMU and also visited Nebraska in November 2019. He played in 23 total games with the Big 12 program, starting 11 times in 2021 while recording 34 tackles and seven quarterback hurries along with a fumble recovery as an interior defend.
Nebraska added 10 portal transfers between the end of last season and spring ball and remains in the hunt for additional help within the defensive front seven. This is true even after it secured a major piece along the D-line in TCU transfer and edge rusher Ochaun Mathis, who committed to the Huskers on Saturday and will join the team in late May.
Drew’s presence helps further shore up a defensive line that has been hammered by attrition in recent months. Starter Ben Stille graduated while four other potential 2022 starters left with remaining eligibility in Damion Daniels (entered NFL draft), Deontre Thomas (left football), Jordon Riley (transferred to Oregon) and Casey Rogers (entered portal). Reserve scholarship player Tate Wildeman also retired from football.
The position lost coach Tony Tuioti to Oregon in the offseason, and NU replaced him by moving Mike Dawson from outside linebackers/special teams coordinator. Prior to Mathis’ commitment, Dawson and Nebraska had just one defensive lineman with starting experience in Ty Robinson (11 starts in 23 total games) among seven scholarship players. The rest of the remaining group of underclassmen has appeared in 16 combined contests, almost all in late reserve roles.
Drew had a dozen Division I starts at Tech. He becomes the first former Iowa Western player to receive a scholarship at Nebraska since the junior college began fielding a football team in 2009.
“I’m versatile,” Drew said. “I’ve shown I can show up everywhere on the line. I’m good at stopping the run and I’m good at pass rushing.”
COMMITTED‼️‼️‼️ #GBR #Huskers #BIG10 pic.twitter.com/4iDnFVlWbh
— Devin9️⃣0️⃣ (@_Dev90) May 3, 2022