Published Thursday, September 13, 2012 AT 10:51 AM / Updated at 10:51 AM
Recruiting: The Hunt for Defensive Linemen
Sam McKewon Omaha World-Herald

If you weren’t convinced Nebraska wanted immediate help for its defensive line before, perhaps Chase Rome’s temporary/permanent/who knows departure from the Huskers is more compelling evidence.

NU is charging hard after a handful of junior-college defensive tackles, two of whom are coveted by many programs.

The first: Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College nose tackle Toby Johnson. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder – generally considered the top defensive tackle prospect – has been overwhelmed with offers – including ones from Georgia, Miami and USC. He’s been giving vaguer and vaguer answers to recruiting services since his season began and he’s had so many teams to sift through.

“I don’t have any top teams,” Johnson told Husker Online. Everybody is still in the running, but I have a top 10 of who’s been the most consistent in contacting me and who I’ve got the most interest in. My top 10 is Georgia, Tennessee, OU, Nebraska, Miami, Boise State, and I can’t really remember the rest right now. I’ve got them written down back at my dorm.”

Mundane answers like these rarely make it into my updates, but here I think it’s illustrative of how loaded down Johnson seems. It will be a tough pluck for NU. Johnson may end up in the SEC no matter how badly Nebraska could use him.

The second target is Trinty Valley (Texas) Community College tackle Quincy Russell, a former Texas commit who’s looking hard at Big 12 schools plus Nebraska. He’s been keeping touch with Husker coaches John Papuchis and Rick Kaczenski through Facebook.

“They are really good coaches,” Russell told Huskers Illustrated. “I think they really know what they are doing. They are both really good defensive line coaches and could help make me better.”

Russell told Husker Online: “The thing that will really set a school part for me is the depth chart. I know that most teams recruit JUCO players to come in to have an immediate impact, so that’s one of my big things I’m looking for.”

If Russell ever makes an official visit to Lincoln, Nebraska has a remote chance. Otherwise, NU may be looking more toward California junior-college prospects to fill needs.

About Sam McKewon

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him at And follow him on Twitter at @swmckewonOWH. And call him at 402.219.3790.


  1. Waskel Wabbit says:

    “They are really good coaches,” Russell told Huskers Illustrated. “I think they really know what they are doing. They are both really good defensive line coaches and could help make me better.” Has he seen them play? We need good DLrecruits, but having a great history with Academic All Americans, it makes a person woner about this one!

    1. Colorado Springer says:

      I woner about you Waskel. I sure like it when Nebraska FANatics run us down to incoming recruits. With FANatics like you, who needs trolls?

  2. Faye Cook says:

    The SEC was around and doing well when Ton Osborne was the head coach, so recruiting was almost as tough then. Obviously he was a better recruiter and a much better coach, so I think we better get used to being in the middle of the pack. I Wish not, but it certainly appears that way. Look at UCLA game – Coaches were totally responsible for the late muckup.

    1. Spencer says:

      we will not always be in the middle of the pack. get real. its NEBRASKA!!! we will be back. hell this season is not even over yet!!!

  3. CLHusker says:

    The wheels are starting to come off the bus for this team and Bo. Another player leaving the team is not a good sign. We’re only into game 2 and I think the coaches/team is in panic mode.

    1. Ben says:

      From what it sounds like it was a rash decision by Rome because he was not getting the playing time he thought he deserved.

    2. NEBREDMAN says:

      You mean another spoiled crybaby who did not want to work hard to keeps his job and played very poorly in these first 2 games we don’t need that!

  4. NUCORNDEVIL says:

    How does a defensive ‘Genius’ with a ‘Process’ get into this kind of a mess?

    1. Nassau Bay, TX Husker says:

      I’d be really curious to see how our beloved coaches would score on the Wunderlic? Might be scary.

      1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

        4 real

    2. Colorado Springer says:

      So folks are enjoying their “I told you so” moment after being invisible after the first game. So will this be a season long habit that we hear from you after the losses but not after the wins?

      1. honest john says:

        no, not enjoying it at all. i would much rather talk the huskers up after they string a few quality wins together. unfortunately, bo and company can’t seem to pull that off right now or recently. time will tell. hey bo, less talk, more action.

  5. joey says:

    Ok Sam? Let’s say NU lands Toby Johnson. Whose going to coach him?? Rick K? John P?? Both of them have about the same talent in coaching skills when it comes to a DL. In which there are NO SKILLS in coaching, recruiting, or helping them into making it to the next level in their position as a member of the DL. Georgia? Yes Miami? Possibly USC? Definately Boise St? Yes, OU? Yes, Tenn? maybe, Nebraska? Hell No. Why? Who is going to coach ANY player that comes to NU into being a better player? John P? His results speaks for itself as a DL coach. Barney Cotton? The only thing Barney has done was coach his kids into getting a free ride into NU. Rick K? Is having the same of less than mediocre success. Until Bo makes changes, OR our AD forces the changes that HAVE TO BE MADE. Then NU will slide further and further. Now NU is NOT even ranked at all. As I predicted, By next season? NU will be lucky to be ranked 30th in the nation. I see it coming, and Bo hasn’t proved me wrong yet. Recruiting should be 2nd priority for NU. 1st priority? A WHOLE NEW COACHING STAFF. It’s that damn obvious. Like I said again, and again, and again. LOSE 1. Barney 2. John P 3. Rick K 4. Beck 5. If BO is refusing to a new coaching staff, then he should be replaced as well.

    1. NEBREDMAN says:

      really how many of rick k’s kids at Iowa are playing at the next level check your facts dude!

      1. joey says:

        Ok you want facts? Ben Cotton recruited his own kids, and how are they doing? Ooooh that’s right? Ben Cotton The Big 12 multi award winning, ball dropping, missed blocking, TE I have seen in a long time.Wow, UCLA had 1 TE NU couldn’t stop. That’s the difference between GREAT PLAYERS, and FAMILY PLAYERS…dude.

        1. joey says:

          Ooops I meant Barney.. Grrr stupid mic.

      2. joey says:

        2nd thing…dude. I’m talking NU, NOT Iowa. If you are so impressed with Iowa? Maybe that’s who YOU should be cheering on,….DUDE.

        1. Damage29 says:

          While there are certainly issues with the team right now, to call out Rick K after 2 games after his track record of success at Iowa is misguided at best. Let’s at least give him a few more games before saying he is a failure. Perhaps a patient person like yourself could even give him a full season. BTW, since he has only been at Nebraska for 2 games, his track record at Iowa is certainly fair game for discussion, regardless of which team you are ranting about…

  6. redark says:

    Hope they can land a couple solid JC guys ; obvious as to why. Who woulda thunk that any Bo coached team could give up almost 700yds to a mostly frosh offensive line with a frosh qb? Pretty sure Suh has a sister with eligibility left–good bloodlines.

  7. max says:

    resorting to lower tier juco dtackles, no different than our current recruiting. how do we get and KEEP these star players around?

  8. B'Obama says:

    Won’t get them, they’ll go to a winner.

    1. honest john says:

      we need to become a winner, again. how that is gonna come about i’m not sure. i’ve seen it happen elsewhere, why not here at nebraska?

  9. Mike Querry says:

    Why aren’t we finding these guys in high school, before they get to the juco?

    1. Bob Allan says:

      Serious with this question? You must not understand this recruiting stuff much, THESE PLAYERS ARE FOUND IN HS, the big PROBLEM IS they need to go the JUCO route for a reason, might be grades, might be other issues, it is what it is. Trust me, the good JUCO players were sought before going the JUCO route.

    2. Nassau Bay, TX Husker says:

      Scholastically, they can’t qualify for an NCAA program out of high school. Hopefully, after two years at JC, they can learn to add and subtract and string a five word sentence together well enough to academically qualify at the college or university level. But here’s the bugaboo: how many recruits have NU signed, through the years, who didn’t have the mental moxie to even make it through the playbook? NU (or any university) signs a great football player, but then the coaches find out that they can’t remember if the X or the O is the defense or the offense.

  10. redark says:

    “If the kid couldn’t run, we didn’t recruit him.” I think Charlie McBride just kinda cleared up the question of foot speed with the Husker defensive front—- recruiting mistakes. He also said size was the last factor to be considered. Charlie was fairly successful, hope some defensive guru has his ears on.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      Charlie was successful in the big 8
      Charlie was very unsuccessful to teams with equal or better talent.
      When Osborne undermined Charlies 1950′s defensive scheme, and let Steele and Samuels tool and run the 4-3, That’s when McBrides career took off.

      1. Colorado Springer says:

        Many teams are going back to 1950′s Oklahoma fronts and using more zone including rumors of a change at Nebraska. Sounds like Charlie’s 52 monster. along with that are offensive plays that 1920′s Knute Rockney’s Four Horsemen (two time losers to Nebraska) would recognize with shotgun formations that we used to call the single or double wing, short punt etc. Football is football. Amos Alonzo Stagg did it all first. Hmmmm…….

  11. honest john says:

    here’s a thought. make Bo a HC / DC and let him run his system. ala TO as HC/OC. or hire a DC and let him run his own system. something has to change.

    1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

      How about we install a proven coach, and his staff, with experience in player recruiting, player development, and sound offensive, and defensive schemes?

      1. Colorado Springer says:

        Or why don’t we hire Tom Rathman who doesn’t have any of that?

        1. NUCORNDEVIL says:

          But Tom could surround himself with people who do, not because they are his friends, but because he want’s the best for his Alma Mater.

      2. Josh the Skeptic says:

        I wish we could go grab Chris Pedersen.

  12. Skytown J says:

    All of you need only to listen to the posted audio interview with Oudious Lee (D-lineman from back in the 70′s for you youngsters) to get a overview of the situation with recruiting. He said he would advise his teenage son to play somewhere other than NU. This is from a former Husker, and ex-NFL player. Basically because of the techniques taught and the style coached to the current defensive linemen. Wow. So this has me thinking about our defensive genius HC and the new guy from Iowa who was supposed to be a whizbang defensive coach. Maybe Lee was all wet, but it makes you wonder.

    1. A Fan says:

      Yeah, it was surprising to hear that from him.