Time for another big, fat recruiting update!
First, a quick thought as Nebraska enters June with just two commits.
The Huskers are pushing a lot of their summer recruiting chips onto the categories marked “camps” — the crop of talent attending looks better than previous years, but, of course, they have to show up — and “Big Red Weekend.” Nebraska must feel confident that its BRW can do the job, because the list of potential visitors is getting longer, and includes players that NU’s been recruiting for sometime, like Peyton Newell.
Last year’s BRW helped NU eventually land Nate Gerry, Marcus Newby, Gabe Miller, Zach Hannon and Terrell Newby. Good haul — roughly 20 percent of the class. But I’d argue NU will have to surpass the 2012 number to get entirely back in the groove with its 2014 class.
Because the Huskers don’t have the strongest track record for loading up on commits during the season (despite using official visits and game weekends as a primary recruiting tool.) While it’s possible Nebraska will alter its gameplan this fall and work its contacts harder while trying to win a Big Ten title, coach Bo Pelini tends to put full attention toward guys already in the program and coaching them. He brought this up on Signing Day when discussing recruiting changes that never went into affect, but would have allowed unlimited phone and text messaging from coaches to athletes. Given Nebraska’s conference title drought, the growing pressure for Pelini to produce a team that finally breaks through the cold snap and Pelini’s preference to craft unique, complex defensive plans for each offensive opponent during the season, Nebraska has to do some of its best recruiting work right now.
The camps and BRW will be a proving ground.
That said, the Husker assistants have worked hard in the last two months to make June a potential windfall. NU doled out a lot of offers, evaluated hard, and made some progress in areas I still deem most important for the Huskers: Offensive line, defensive line and defensive back.
We’ll reassess at the end of the month and see where Nebraska stands. You always assess the quality of a class more on the quality of the players than quantity alone, but if NU is at less than eight commits heading into August, given all the work it has already done, it could be hard to declare the first half of the recruiting calendar anything but a small disappointment. The recruiting business has changed. The best recruiters win the summer. Nebraska will have show its chops in the next months. Pelini will have several opportunities to close.
Edit: A previous version said heading into July; I meant fall camp, which is August. It has been changed appropriately.
On with the update
The prospects are listed with name, height/weight, position, town/school and top schools involved.
After each recruiting service’s designation (247: 247Sports; 247C: 247Sports Composite ranking; R: Rivals; S: Scout; E: ESPN), you’ll see numbers. Here’s the key for those: Star ranking/National ranking/Position Ranking.
An “NR” means they’re not ranked at this time. A bolded ranking denotes the prospect’s highest evaluation. An italicized ranking denotes the prospect’s lowest evaluation.
Gaelin Elmore, 6-5/240, TE, Somerset (Wis.): NU, Wisky, Iowa State, Minny
A top NU target at tight end, Elmore is in the midst of an unofficial visit at Nebraska, having dinner with coach Bo Pelini Sunday night, as reported by Huskers Illustrated. Elmore told HI that Barney Cotton – who’s responsible for the upper Midwest — has kept consistent contact. Elmore is coming off a visit to Iowa State.
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Harrison Phillips, 6-4/245, DE/TE, Millard West: Kansas State, Iowa, Duke, NU, Stanford
More offers for the Millard West star from Army, Wyoming, Princeton and Lehigh. He’ll get his shot soon at the Nebraska football camp.
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Frank Ragnow, 6-6/285, OT, Chanhassen (Minn.): NU, FSU, Pitt, Mizzou
One of Nebraska’s top offensive line targets has added several offers since the last update, including Cal, Kansas and Vanderbilt. Arkansas is close. I still like Ragnow to have the Huskers in his top three.
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Peyton Newell, 6-3/280, DT, Hiawatha (Kan.): NU, S. Car, USC, Georgia, KSU, KU
A top defensive line priority for Nebraska for nearly year, Newell trimmed his list to six — you see the teams above — with continued praise for the Huskers, who appear to be tied with South Carolina at the top.
“They’ve definitely been towards the top of my list along with South Carolina for most of the process,” Newell told Huskers Illustrated. “No one actually knows this but they send me recruiting things every day.”
Newell will visit for Big Red Weekend. It’s not likely that NU can close him in that setting — South Carolina, Georgia and USC are going to hang around for the sheer prestige factor — but the Huskers can set the hook.
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Tyreek Hill, 5-9/185, RB/WR, Garden City (Kan.) CC: Bama, Baylor, Pokes, USC, NU, OU
Here’s some speed to consider. Hill’s run a sub-10-second 100-meter dash. The 20.14-second 200-meter time is more impressive. He ran for 389 yards and caught 713 yards worth of passes last year at Garden City. Looks like a return specialist, too — which Nebraska’s been looking for.
He told Husker Online that he’d visit for Big Red Weekend. Right now, Bama, Oklahoma State and USC are on top. NU can make up that ground, though. Yes, even on Alabama, which doesn’t always know what to do with backs of Hill’s size. The Huskers do.
Hill’s a world class sprinter. He’s also originally from Georgia. Which means: Watch for Georgia.
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Tanner Farmer, 6-4/280, OG, Highland (Ill.): NU, Mizzou, WMU
After starring at a Rivals camp in St. Louis — he won Offensive Line MVP — Farmer started getting more attention. Nebraska offered last week, and Farmer will reward that offer with a camp visit. The Huskers, Tigers and Western Michigan are the top three for now. That’ll change unless NU’s able to secure a commit from a prospect who may be underrated.
Farmer told HO and Big Red Report he’s looking hard for a school that offers a strong education.
“I’m looking at how good the school is, I want to go into premed so they would have to have a premed or similar medical science program,” Farmer told HO. “I’ve got to be able to connect with the coaches and I have to like them. And I would like for them to be able to have good facilities and a pretty decent football team. I think that I’m going to decide around the beginning of July.”
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Henre Toliver, 6-1/165, CB, New Orleans Rummel: Lou, UCF, OU, Miss St, UK, NU
Nebraska just coaxed Cethan Carter out of one of Louisiana’s top high school programs; now defensive backs coach Terry Joseph will try the same with Toliver, whose ratings are all over the board, but whose offers reveal a kid who might be a little underweight, but projects well to the college level.
“I have a good work ethic, I work hard. I like to listen and I understand a lot of stuff. I have fun playing football,” Toliver told HO. “The coaches have been telling me I’m a tall corner and I’m lengthy so they like my long arms.”
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Freedom Akinmoladun, 6-5/240, TE, Grandview (Mo.): NU, Ark, Mizzou, Ill, KSU,
Nebraska’s newest tight end offer is an intriguing athlete who could project to defense as an end prospect, as well. NU offered relatively early here — the kid could blossom as a senior — and the Huskers have an advantage that Oladapo Akinmoldun — Freedom’s cousin — is a hurdler/sprinter at Nebraska already.
“Right now, Nebraska wants me at tight end, but I kind of prefer defensive end because that’s where I have been playing most of my life,” Akinmoladun told Husker Online. “But it really doesn’t matter because I can transfer to tight end.”
He’s scheduled to visit during Big Red Weekend.
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Quinton Flowers, 6-0/210, ATH, Miami (Jackson): Bama, UK, NU, Tenn, UCF, USF
Recruited at a quarterback by some schools and a wide receiver by others (like Alabama), Flowers is a guy who’s going to have to get an overwhelmingly good pitch at quarterback – which Nebraska may be able to provide — to sway him from the South. And if Miami offers, Flowers probably sticks in South Florida.
“They do a lot of read-option and that’s one offense I would love to be in,” Flowers told HO. “We run the West Coast Offense with some read-option and I would love to play in that.”
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Brandon Powell, 5-9/185, ATH, Deerfield Beach, (Fla.): Aub, Duke, NU, UNC, Tenn
Powell is one of many scatbacks in the running for one of the two back spots NU will likely hold open for the 2014 class. He ran for 1,180 yards and 13 touchdowns and appears to be a return specialist candidate — Nebraska’s been looking for one in the last nine months.
Powell told HI that NU assistant Ron Brown is handling the recruiting for the Huskers.
“Coach Brown said I fit their offense perfectly,” Powell told HI. “They like my speed, quickness and the way I hit the hole. They really like the way I can run away from people. That’s what really stands out to most people.”
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Jamardre Cobb, 6-1/220, ATH, Los Angeles (Salesian): UCLA, Cal, FSU, Stan, Miami, NU, OU
Ron Brown’s doing more work with Cobb, who could fit in at fullback or linebacker. He told Huskers Illustrated that he intends to take an official visit to Lincoln in the fall. Good athlete. Still a longshot. If he sets a visit date, we’ll look at him closer. UCLA has yet to offer.
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Jalen Jelks, 6-7/250, DE, Phoenix Desert Vista: ASU, AZ, NU, Ore, Wisky, Ore St. Boise, Cal
Upside kid here. Jelks is raw and his 2012 stats — 39 tackles and four sacks — aren’t overwhelming, but there’s a lot to like about his frame and lateral movement. He told HO weeks ago that he’d like to attend the Big Red Weekend if his parents could swing it. HI recently listed him as an evaluation period offer to watch. I could see Jelks sliding inside to tackle if he gains more weight. He’s not a particularly fast end.
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Josh Kalu, 6-1/170, DB, Houston Alief Taylor: CU, Duke, Hous, NU, Rice
Kalu told Big Red Report he plans on visiting for Big Red Weekend.
“I just want to see how I would fit in with everyone that is up there,” Kalu told BRR. “I would like to see if it’s a big family. I would also like to see how I fit in on the field in their defense.”
If he makes the trip, don’t be stunned if he wants to commit. NU’s his best offer. And while Kalu plays safety now, he may have to switch to nickel or corner for the Huskers. He’s not the caliber of athlete that Drake Martinez and Nate Gerry is.
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Easton Stick, 6-2/205, QB, Omaha Creighton Prep: Akron
The Prep scrambler got his first FBS offer from the Zips. It’s not likely to be the last.
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Layth Friekh, 6-5/250, OT, Peoria (Az.) Centennial: AZ, ASU, Ore, Ore St, NU, Wash
Another offensive tackle offer here and a lot to like about Friekh’s quickness for a guy of his height. He can pull, is physical for still being relatively thin and excels at finding landmarks and latching on. He told Big Red Report that he intends to visit NU, where Barney Cotton is handling the recruitment.
“I know that Nebraska is in the Big Ten and that their game day atmosphere is incredible,” Friekh said to Husker Online. “I hear that their coaches can get you to the next level, but other than that I really haven’t looked into them too much yet. I am excited about their school and I might take an official visit there.”