JD Spielman, Nebraska's top wide receiver, taking leave from football team for 'personal health matter'

Nebraska wide receiver JD Spielman has 170 catches for 2,546 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons in Lincoln. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

One of Nebraska’s best players is taking some time away from the team.

Huskers head coach Scott Frost announced Monday that senior wide receiver JD Spielman is back in his home state of Minnesota dealing with “a personal health matter.” Frost said Spielman is “unlikely” to participate in spring practice. 

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

Frost said the program anticipates Spielman being back with the team ahead of summer conditioning drills. The school does not expect Spielman’s absence to have any impact on his eligibility to compete in 2020. 

Spielman has been a tremendous contributor for the Huskers throughout his career. In fact, Spielman currently ranks 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, two punt returns — in his Nebraska career. 

What does this mean for Nebraska?

Entering Year 3 under Frost, the absence of Spielman is a big deal for Nebraska. The Huskers have underperformed expectations 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 pressure is already mounting to turn the corner and move up the ranks in the Big Ten. 

The presence of a steady producer like Spielman returning for his senior season was expected to be a boon for the Nebraska offense, especially for quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez had an uneven sophomore campaign, but could rely on Spielman in the passing game. If Spielman’s absence is longer than the Huskers anticipate, there are very few proven players in the wide receiver group. 

Wan’Dale Robinson was excellent in an all-around role as a freshman, producing 40 catches for 453 yards along with 340 rushing yards. Beyond Robinson, Spielman’s absence opens the door for Nebraska’s host of young receivers to step into a prominent role on the offense. 

Nebraska added five wide receivers in its 2020 recruiting class, including three four-star prospects. Only one of those 2020 receivers, three-star recruit Alante Brown, has enrolled for spring practice. The rest are expected to arrive in the summer.

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