J.D. Spielman is in the process of officially leaving the Nebraska football program. On Monday morning, Michael Bruntz of 247Sports reported the wide receiver officially entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal. The move comes a few months after Spielman signaled he could be playing elsewhere this fall when he left the team at the beginning of March. At the time, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said Spielman was on leave and could eventually come back. However, it appears the player is closing the door on that return.
When Spielman took his leave in March, the coaches said he was dealing with a “personal health issue” but wouldn’t shed more light on the reason for his departure. Bruntz said sources told him the decision to transfer was a “mutual” decision.
“We’re kind of just backing off right now and making sure that he’s able to do the things that he needs to do,” Frost said in March. “I think there’ll be a lot of dialogue down the road, but right now we just wish him the best.”
If Spielman had played his senior year, most analysts believe he would have ended his Nebraska career as the program’s leading receiver. The wideout is currently third in the school’s history in both receptions and receiving yards. He ranks second in 100-yard receiving games, third in combined kick return touchdowns, seventh in punt return touchdowns and eighth in receiving touchdowns. He finished his career with a total of 170 receptions for 2,546 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Spielman is also the first receiver in school history to have three straight 800-yard seasons in receiving yards. He was just two yards short of logging 900 receiving yards a season ago. Arguably, his best overall season was his first under Frost. In 2018, he caught a career-high 66 passes for 818 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2019 he saw his number of catches drop to a career-low 49, but he countered that with a career-high in yardage and 18.3 yards per catch. Spielman was also a weapon for Nebraska on special teams. In 2017 he returned a kickoff for a touchdown and had one punt returns for a touchdown in each of the last two years.
The circumstances of his entering the transfer portal confused some analysts because of eligibility issues. Spielman has already used a redshirt season. He has not yet earned enough credits to graduate from Nebraska. Unless he receives a special waiver from the NCAA, he would run out of eligibility if he transfers to a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team. If he intends on playing another season he’ll have to move to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or lower-level program.
Spielman is the second veteran player to leave Nebraska over the last month. Early in May, quarterback Noah Vedral announced he was transferring to Rutgers.