It’s no secret the Nebraska football secondary has been abysmal over the first couple of weeks of the season. Saturday, we were able to see a bit of new life in the form of strong play from Malcolm Hartzog.
He became Nebraska’s first true freshman to start at the corner position since 2016. It’s safe to say he made the most of it.
He received his first action of the season against Oklahoma, in a game that was difficult for everybody. Evidently, he made a strong impression throughout the week in practice, as veteran corner Tommi Hill was benched in favor of Hartzog.
I was really impressed with his effort on Saturday night. It seemed like he was flying around, and was really invested in the game itself. Look no further than his blocked punt on special teams. That was a huge turning point in the game overall, and gave me the indication that he is a player that wants to be on the field. He is no doubt earning his playing time.
This isn’t to say I’m surprised at his talent. After all, he recorded over 10 pass deflections for Jefferson Davis County High School last year. His instincts and talent are definitely two key parts of his game.
His stellar play on Saturday was huge for a couple of reasons. Take past couple of seasons for example. Nebraska has lost a ton of solid veteran corners. Lamar Jackson and DiCaprio Bootle come to mind off the top of my head.
Nebraska football does have corners waiting in the wings. Jaeden Gould made his debut against Oklahoma, and looks to be a promising player. Dwight Bootle is an highly-anticipated member of the 2023 class. Of course, all of this depends on what these players do with an anticipated coaching change. However, Nebraska does have talent in the works, and that includes Hartzog.
His final statistical line included only the pass deflection. Nevertheless, his impact was felt more strongly in areas besides the stat sheet. He needed to step up and a big moment, and he delivered in a huge way.
Nebraska football may have found a gem in Hartzog. It will be fun to watch his development throughout the rest of the season.