Safety LeRoy Alexander and receiver Jariah Tolbert will transfer. Linebacker David Santos, a senior-to-be, won't be part of Nebraska's football team this fall.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley announced all this Thursday morning in an emailed statement. No further explanation regarding the three departures was given.
Attrition of some kind was anticipated this off season, given that Nebraska had been three scholarships over the 85-man limit after signing 20 recruits in February. Nothing was officially announced until now, though.
Santos' exit — given his status on the team, his experience and the depth issues at his position — could prove to have the most impact.
Santos did have off season knee surgery after spending much of last season battling through injury. But he's started 19 games in his career, a key figure on NU's defense throughout his time at Nebraska. As a sophomore, he ranked second among Huskers with 87 tackles and fifth with seven tackles for loss.
Santos was out this spring so Nebraska practiced with just five scholarship linebackers — junior Josh Banderas, junior Michael Rose-Ivey (returning from injury), sophomore Marcus Newby, true freshman Dedrick Young and redshirt freshman Luke Gifford (moved over from safety). Freshman reinforcements have arrived on campus for summer workouts — but the position group will now be without the guy who's logged the most game reps. A bit of a concern, certainly.
Alexander was suspended all last season for an undisclosed reason — of which the junior declined to share during an interview with reporters last spring. He had 34 tackles and an interception in 13 games at safety during a promise-filled redshirt freshman season.
Without him on NU's roster, it will presumably provide more opportunities for true freshman Aaron Williams (an early enrollee who impressed this spring) and sophomore Kieron Williams. Junior captain Nate Gerry and senior Byerson Cockrell are the expected starters at safety.
University of Nebraska at Lincoln Police cited Tolbert in April on suspicion of drug paraphernalia possession. Two months earlier, he paid a $300 fine and entered a diversion program for a drug-related offense stemming from a June 2014 incident on campus.
Tolbert's 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame — a physical presence on the outside that Nebraska's offense was missing a year ago — made the redshirt freshman a candidate to potentially develop into a contributor for the Huskers this fall. He performed well in spring ball. But NU will now have to look elsewhere for reliable options behind junior captain Jordan Westerkamp, sophomore De'Mornay Pierson-El and junior Brandon Reilly (who emerged this spring).