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Nebraska found some serious wear and tear on its defensive line in the wake of the 2021 season.
As a result, the Huskers rely on the transfer portal for immediate help.
On Tuesday, the portal delivered again.
Three days after Nebraska signed former TCU defensive end Ochaun Mathis, former Texas Tech defensive lineman Devin Drew announced he will play for the Huskers in 2022.
Drew recently paid an official visit to the Nebraska campus and also seriously considered playing for Illinois.
A native of Raytown, Missouri, Drew made 34 tackles in 13 games last fall and had 55 total stops in two seasons at Texas Tech.
Before joining the Red Raiders, Drew spent two seasons, 2018 and 2019, at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Count Iowa Western trainer Scott Strohmeier as a believer in the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Drew.
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In many ways, Drew beat the odds to reach his current status, Strohmeier said.
“Devin came in here as a middle linebacker,” the coach said. “That’s where he played in high school.”
However, when Iowa Western began preseason camp in 2018, Drew moved to defensive end. He was buried in the depth chart behind six other defensive ends, Strohmeier said.
But Drew was not buried for long.
“I remember coming to staff meetings after practice and the coaches wouldn’t stop talking about him,” Strohmeier said. “He was thinking, ‘The guy is a MIKE linebacker. How good are we going to be if he’s climbing the defensive end chart so fast?’
“It just went up and up and up.”
Eventually, of course, the Iowa Western coaches had to make final decisions about the roster. At that point, Strohmeier said, Drew clearly moved up to the starting level.
He then produced at a high level in that role, appearing in 22 games over two seasons for Iowa Western, which won 19 games in that span.
“He’s a technician,” Strohmeier said. “He is quiet and works hard. He will do anything you ask of him.”
In two seasons at Iowa Western, Drew amassed 97 tackles, including 14.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. He also forced five fumbles.
“He doesn’t complain, he just works,” Strohmeier said. “He just kept working and kept working. We had some talented kids that year (2018), guys who were higher profile than him coming out of high school. But he just kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
“He takes coaching extremely well. Once you tell him something, he’ll just do it. I have to give credit to our defensive line coaches, Aaron Terry and Dave Tolleson. They just coached him every day. They kept coming back and saying, ‘Everything We tell this guy, he does it. If he’s not perfect with it, he’s going to work on it.
“For two years, he did what he was supposed to do and made plays when he was supposed to make plays.”
Some power conference schools might have prevented a full-court draft of Drew because he’s 6-foot-3 instead of 6-4 or taller. He is listed at 290 now after coming to Iowa Western in the 240-pound range. However, the Reivers coaching staff always projected him as a lineman.
Granted, Strohmeier said, Drew isn’t necessarily as physically gifted as former Iowa Western (and Oklahoma) standout Perrion Winfrey, who was drafted in the fourth round Saturday by the Cleveland Browns.
“But Devin will help you win games,” Strohmeier said. “He does everything right. He gets his job done; he’s not going to screw it up. And when he has to make plays, he’ll be there to make them. The guy just wants to help you win.”
Keeping up to date with the transfer portal. This is what the Huskers have to come to Lincoln