If a 247 Sports recruiting analyst’s tidbit is accurate, defensive back coach Terry Joseph’s departure from Nebraska could make for a tight squeeze in Husker cornerback recruiting until signing day.
Posting on Huskers Illustrated’s message board, 247 Sports analyst Brian Perroni said the commit of Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson High School cornerback Trai Mosley could be wavering in the wake of Joseph’s departure. Mosley’s teammate, Chance Waz, decommitted from NU after he got a Baylor offer. Mosley, underrated as a low three-star prospect, will be getting late attention from in-state schools, perhaps including Texas A&M, Joseph’s new home.
In short: The recruiting business remains the recruiting business, an alternately maddening/gratifying experience for assistant coaches. Nebraska’s cornerback recruiting has been hit and miss over the last several years. Joseph, rightly admired for his teaching skills by his players, has to take some of the responsibility for those misses. Over the last two years, three guys — Jonathan Cook (Alabama), Jason Hall (Texas) and Waz (Baylor) — took advantage of early Husker offers only to decommit later when local offers came through. (Safety Marcus McWilson decommitted from Nebraska and went to Kentucky, but that was a Vince Marrow connection.)
Mosley is one of two cornerback recruits in the 2014 class. The other, East Mississippi star Byerson Cockrell, is already in the fold at NU. I expect Cockrell to take a crack at corner. I actually expect Mosley to do the same at Nebraska, though I don’t have any inside information on it. Mosley’s chance to play early in Lincoln has to be a significant drawing point, regardless of who the coach is. (And Bo Pelini tends to hire pretty accomplished defensive backs coaches.)
So should Nebraska’s penchant — regardless of the position coach — to send defensive backs to the NFL. Since coach Pelini’s arrival, six defensive backs have been picked in the draft. Look for it to be seven with cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, and perhaps eight if Ciante Evans gets late-round attention.
TCU, one of the schools Mosley’s apparently now considering, has sent just four defensive backs to the NFL Draft since 2009.
But the Huskers can zero in on some other targets whether Mosley sticks or not. Deion Hallmon, a 6-foot, 165-pounder from Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay High School, visits Jan. 17. Hallmon — whose offer list includes UCLA, Florida State, Clemson and Wisconsin — hails from the same school of current Husker Boaz Joseph.
Joseph, an impressive athlete that flew under the radar of several SEC and ACC schools that didn’t think he’d academically qualify, will figure into the 2014 depth chart. Here’s what the roster looks like at corner right now, with a little added speculation:
Senior Josh Mitchell: Experienced, feisty and athletic. He won a starting job in 2012 and hasn’t relinquished it. Probable captain candidate in 2014. As important as the nickel spot in Nebraska’s defense is, I wonder if he’s big enough to slide inside. You know Mitchell will tackle and hit a guy.
Junior Jonathan Rose: Auburn transfer who’s long, talented but inexperienced. Likable, amiable. Needs a little more of Mitchell’s fire. Played backup duty this year. The time is now.
Junior Charles Jackson: He’s been shuttled around from corner to safety back to corner. An aggressive tackler who can jump out of the gym, Jackson needs to master one position — corner or nickel — and be given a chance to work through on-field mistakes. Pelini seems inclined to give him that chance.
Sophomore Daniel Davie: Tore his ACL in November. He’s looking at an offseason full of rehab. When healthy, he’s as fast as any Husker defensive back. He was even with Rose — even a little ahead — prior to the injury.
Redshirt freshman Boaz Joseph: Joseph is fast. Big frame, too. As big as Rose at 6-foot-1. But a natural learning curve awaits.
Cockrell: Not the highest-rated guy coming out of junior college, but I think Nebraska got the guy they really wanted. NU needs more help at corner than safety, so Cockrell gets a look on the edge.
The mystery walk-on: In Pelini’s tenure, he’s had timely, major secondary help from walk-ons Matt O’Hanlon, Austin Cassidy, Justin Blatchford and Lance Thorell. I don’t know if that guy’s on the roster right now.
Converted offensive players: Is there a guy on the offense who could reasonably move to defense, as Jean-Baptiste did early in 2011? If Tre’vell Dixon had ever made it, I might say yes. Lincoln Southwest walk-on wide receiver Brandon Reilly played defensive back in high school –pretty well, as I recall — but he could be in the two-deep at wideout.
More recruits: If Mosley departs — again, the playing time situation looks too good for him to wisely do so — Nebraska’s going to get another corner. Perhaps two more. Some kid’s going to be hip to a thin depth chart and a NFL pedigree. California junior college Kweishi Brown — nice player — visited in December, and still has visits to Arizona State and West Virginia to go.
Outside of Mitchell, nothing’s locked down at corner. It’ll be the top position group to watch in the spring that’s not named “quarterback.” And it’ll have a new coach to watch over.