Click HERE for Dining Review in Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb. - With the addition of four-star running back Adam Taylor over the weekend, the Nebraska Cornhuskers moved up to No. 22 in the FOX Sports NEXT team rankings. With 15 total commitments and ten more likely before National Signing Day, the Huskers have the foundation for a Top 15 to 20 recruiting class in 2013.
While Nebraska no longer has home game-day environments to impress potential recruits going forward, a total of 35 percent of Nebraska's recruiting class in 2012 visited after the Huskers' last home game – game day officials are nice, but recruits can be won over without them.
With 35 game day official visitors over the 2012 season, Nebraska hosted more visitors in their second year in the Big Ten compared to their first.
"I think the numbers were pretty good," said Nebraska recruiting coordinator Ross Els. "We had some really good weekends – Wisconsin and Michigan. It's dwindled down a lot, because a lot of guys still playing are in the playoffs. I think the number was pretty good."
With 56 official visitors allowed each year by Division I teams, Nebraska should have a few big visitor weekends going forward after the Big Ten Championship game and bowl game.
This could come in handy as many recruiting experts expect major recruiting turmoil in the next few months with multiple staffs possibly being shown the door.
"We were asked that in the summer. ‘Guys are making commitments earlier, are they going to decommit more?' I hope not," said Els. "I think when you are going to see them is when things start changing staff wise, obviously Tennessee, stuff like that. But when maybe they have had a bad year, I think then you could see guys really changing. But as long as a program did okay, I think most guys are glad to have the decision made.
"If a staff is let go, we will certainly look at those kids, because they committed to that University and that staff, so we will look there. But believe me, I have been in this too long to want to recruit over someone getting fired. It's the worse thing that can happen to a family. The head coach is fine, but it's the assistants, their families – the kids. When you have to go to your kids and say ‘come'on, let's go we are moving,' that's hard. I don't want that to happen to anybody, but when it does happen, yes we will look at the recruits, especially the ones we have previous relationships with."
So who are the stars?
The most common question Big Red Report has been asked over the last few weeks is who will be the cornerstone in the class?
It's a tough question to answer with ten spots still open in the class and multiple five-star/high four-star players considering the Huskers.
But as time goes on, indications point to Lincoln Southwest senior Josh Banderas being the Huskers' gem. The four-star linebacker racked up over 120 tackles this season and also ran for 1,200 yards as a running back. Much like linebacker Michael Rose the year before, Banderas has been a great recruiter for Nebraska, being a consistent face of the 2013 class at Nebraska home games. An Army All-American selection, Banderas really didn't consider any other schools, but still could be Nebraska's most important get in the class.
"Banderas' senior film I was really impressed with," said FOX Sports NEXT recruiting analyst Greg Powers. "He loves the Big Red, he's literally going to bleed for that team. He keeps the traditions alive there. There will be continued players that grow up in the backyard and want to be Huskers."
After Banderas many would point to Milton high school (WI) defensive end A.J. Natter as the Huskers' next big get.
Natter is the No. 1 player in the state of Wisconsin for the 2013 class and had a Badger offer, yet the Huskers were able to steal the senior away from his home state. A four-star prospect, the senior is currently rated the No. 13 defensive end in the country.
"An aggressive 6-foot-6, 230-pound athlete, he has the tools to compete early if need be," said FOX Sports NEXT national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu.
If Banderas and Natter are No. 1 and No. 2, California quarterback Johnny Stanton is a close No. 3 behind the pair.
Stanton led Santa Margarita to a state title in 2011 and things even looked better in 2012. The Husker commitment was coming off an Elite Eleven performance and tearing up the competition. But an ACL tear ended his season prematurely. At the time, the Ranchos were 5-0 and rated one of the top five teams in the country by FOX Sports NEXT, they finished 9-3 overall.
In the shortened season, Stanton completed 59-of-88 passes for 949 yards with 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 386 yards on 47 carries.
His presence means there will likely be a quarterback competition down the road, after Nebraska signed four-star prospect Tommy Armstrong at the position last year.
Departing Scholarship Players: None
Committed Players: Johnny Stanton
Pictured: Johnny Stanton: (four-star and No. 31 QB in the country)
Notable: I agree with FOX Sports Director of Scouting Scott Kennedy, I don't think Nebraska takes another quarterback in this class because of Stanton's current injury. The only reason I could see another quarterback taken is if Armstrong decided to leave the program or Stanton had a setback.