Welcome to the latest edition of TAKE TWO, your recap in recruiting and what do we have this time around? A brand new commit and a story where there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. A commit before that one that continues to show that NU gets most of the quality in-state talent and updates galore, some you've seen and some that could be brand new to you, so enjoy this edition of TAKE TWO.
QB NO. 2
There's little doubt that the need for quarterbacks at NU has gotten urgent as of late. With the transfer of Curt Dukes , it wasn't just a must to get one, but NU could still be looking at least one more.
Well, yesterday, they got a big one, just what the doctor ordered you might say as D.T. McDowell pulled the trigger for NU.
Let's do a little flashback first, because there's some background to this story you might not know.
Turns out that McDowell didn't even know about it and you could say he wasn't thrilled. It seems that though D.T. didn't know Calvin personally, he knew someone that did and he heard about everything that was being said to Calvin from Auburn, which was surprisingly similar to what was being said to him. D.T. took exception to that. "I heard that they (Auburn) were telling him (Calvin) that he was number one for them and all that, but they were saying the same thing to me." he said. "I mean, I don't mind if you tell me I'm number two, because that will make me work that much harder to be number one, but don't lie to me just to get me to consider your school."
At that point, again, this being about a week and a half ago or so, D.T. said that, that night might be THE night, indicating the possibility that he would pull the trigger for NU.
That prompted me to include in an article I wrote about the possibility of there being up to three more commits in the next week or so from the time I wrote that article. Truth be told, the one "gimmee" I thought as far as predictions go (Clayton Sievers ) was the one recruit that turned a pretty nice prediction into a 2 out of 3, but hey, like they say, that's not bad.
The question by me though wasn't if D.T. would commit to NU because it sounded like he had clearly made his mind up. It was when. Would it be a week, two weeks or even more and if the wait would extend itself, was that a danger for the Huskers?
Turns out Georgia was rumored to be entering into the mix, especially after best friend, Thomas Brown committed to the Bulldogs. The recent commit of a QB though might have yet again turned McDowell's eye back to the Huskers, because he knew just how shallow NU's depth chart was.
Ok, so the mail was coming in to me wondering who the third guy out of that prediction of a trio of commits would be, over and over again. Of course, in this business, you sit on those things because if you don't, everyone will know, hence your scoop going right out the window.
Well, that plan really worked out, didn't it? LOL (that means laughs out loud for you chat-iliterate types)
I did get a chance to recap with D.T. the last week though and what's gone on since our last extended conversation.
SR: D.T., ever since you found out that Calvin Booker went to Auburn and all the contributing stuff about what Auburn said to both you and him, was that what you were thinking about. Was that whole situation with Auburn what turned the point for you in deciding to commit to Nebraska?
D.T.: "A little bit, because I just wanted them to be straight with me, that's all. It's not like I was mad, I was just shocked about it is all."
SR: What has been going on this last week while you have been deliberating on what you were going to do?
D.T.: "I just wanted to talk to some people, coaches and everything to get things straight in my mind. The thing is, if I were to listen to most people around here and others, I wouldn't be going to Nebraska, because they all were saying the same thing."
"They were saying that ‘you shouldn't go to Nebraska, because they will just run it all the time, you will never get to throw and no QB from Nebraska makes it in the NFL. You are just going to be a running back, back there and that's it'."
"I just said, ‘we'll see'."
SR: Was that because you thought that if NU had a QB that actually could throw, the offense would be different?
D.T.: "Exactly. I mean, if all the QB can do is run, yeah, that's what they are going to do, but if I can throw the ball and get it down field, the coaches are going to throw the ball."
"Besides, when the other team is stacking 9 in the box, you don't have any choice. You have to throw, so I knew I would get my chances to put it up."
SR: Was that the biggest reason you decided on going to NU was that you knew that this wouldn't be the same old Nebraska and that they would cater to what you could do, rather than just try to fit you into their system?
D.T.: "Yeah, but the biggest reason I committed there was because of the coaches. They were always straight with me, didn't make me any promises and just told me how things would be. I got along with all of them and just felt really good about every coach I talked to, so that was really the big reason. I am going to NU because of the coaches."
SR: How do you see yourself fitting in once you get to Lincoln? Do you want to take a shot at the top-spot right away or do you want to redshirt and learn the system?
D.T.: "I want to take a shot right away. I'm going to do my best and if I have to sit, I have to sit, but when I get there, I am going to do the best I can and just see what happens."
SR: Another big issue that has been surrounding you is baseball and the fact that you are just pretty darn good. How did you do as a pitcher last year?
D.T.: "Last year, I was 10-1, my ERA was 1.07 and I had over a hundred strikeouts."
SR: What's your "bread n' butter" pitch?
D.T.: "My curve ball. I can get it to break all the way into the dirt."
SR: When you look at pitchers in the major leagues, what pitcher is closest to you in how you do things?
D.T.: "John Smoltz ."
SR: What role does baseball have for you now and how important is it to you compared to football?
D.T.: "I loved football before I loved baseball, but I was like ‘hey, I'm pretty good at baseball' and I just got excited about it. I mean, with baseball, I might have a real chance to get somewhere."
SR: With the draft coming up in June, most are wondering just how high do you have to get drafted when you will say, you are heading to baseball, foregoing your playing career at Nebraska."
D.T.: "The third round. If I don't get drafted higher than the third round, I'll be playing college ball."
SR: And you want to play both football and baseball I would assume?
D.T.: "Yeah, if I can, that's what I want to do."
SR: So, what's going on with D.T. McDowell from this time forward?
D.T.: "Just getting ready for my last year here and trying to win a state title. I can think only of that now and I am glad."
Here is just one comment, but a telling one our national recruiting expert, Jamie Newberg had to say about D.T.:
"We don't have a category on the Insiders for run/pass quarterbacks, but if we did, D.T. would probably be in the top five."
With that commit out of the way, Nebraska takes it's current QB class up to two, the other being Allan Evridge from Papillion-La Vista.
If you are wondering just how many quarterbacks NU plans on taking this year, if you look at their current depth chart, you would think two at least, three being ideal.
With the recent commit of D.T. McDowell though, you think that number now goes to one being ideal? I wouldn't agree on that completely.
The bad thing about getting someone so good at two different sports is obvious. If D.T. does go somewhere in the top three rounds, he's gone to baseball and all of a sudden, NU is out maybe their best QB commit of the class and the depth chart again looks needy. So, with that in mind, keep looking at quarterbacks as a premium, possibly even treating it as D.T. didn't commit at all, because if there is even a slight possibility that D.T. might follow the path of Carl Crawford, Nebraska has to be ready and that means, they might still need two more signal-callers in this class.
Some of the candidates for those spots are as follows:
Nick Patton : Probably the best QB (on paper) NU is looking at, but looks to be a hard KSU lean, despite getting the offers from elsewhere. Nick says that he is looking all over, but for a variety of reasons, one being academic, Kansas State looks to be a real leader.
Alex Engram : Not the sheer talent of a D.T. McDowell, but a good athlete, some were considering him the odds-on favorite to be the next QB commit for the Huskers. With the pledge of McDowell, that might change, but Engram was probably looked at as more of an athlete than he was a pure QB in the first place.
David Wolke: Depending on just how much passing NU planned on doing would indicate just how appropriate a QB like Wolke would be. Wolke is a solid passer and a decent runner, so recruiting him would indicate to most a clear changing of the philosophy, offensively speaking. It's not like Wolke can't run the option, but when you look at traditional recruiting at the QB position for NU, D.T. McDowell fits that mold to a tee, while Wolke fits the mold of a prototypical passer who can move pretty well.
Matt Tuiasosopo : This young man is just impressing the heck of out everyone the more they get to see him. One impressive camp after another, Matt has steadily climbed the charts in the eyes of fans and especially, schools. For Nebraska, he just isn't a realistic candidate as he may fit the D.T. mold a little more than he would the Wolke mold, but getting him out of the western region of the country could be considered close to impossible. I think he's going to stay very close to home.
Shae Regan: Another more prototypical-type QB, but would probably be looked at as more of an option threat than Wolke, much of that having to do with his size and sheer physical style of running. He's a big kid that's not easy to bring down and yes, he can definitely throw the ball. Shae has a ton of offers though, from teams who are going to be more pro-style or sport an offense closer to that of the west coast variety, something that fits him a little better than an offense that is still considered to be predicated on the run, just with a few more passes thrown in.
There are a number of others, but for the sake of not filling up ten pages on one thing, we'll stick to those for now.
Ok, now for a recant of my quickly-fading status as a prognosticator of legendary proportions.
I picked Danny Muy as the next commit. That was two commits ago. Whoops. Danny is still very high on Nebraska and is still looking to visit NU unofficially before the Summer is over, so I'll still go with Muy as my next commit or in this case, my next, next, next commit.
Seth Olsen was actually the next commit, a robust offensive linemen that if not for a back injury would probably be one of if not the most recruited offensive lineman in the state of Nebraska this year. That injury was the reason some schools shied away, foremost being Iowa, the only other team Seth appeared to be seriously considering. The Hawkeyes never offered though, hence Olsen not wanting to field anymore phone calls, pulling the trigger for Nebraska.
For Olsen, he said that everything Nebraska was and is was a reason for it, but the strength and conditioning program didn't hurt, because he's going to need it once he steps on campus. Olsen did say that his back as around 95 percent right now and should be all the way back by possibly the mid-way point of the season, barring anything unfortunate.
Speaking of "bigguns" and no, this isn't a recap of an episode of "Married With Children", there's plenty of quality offensive linemen out there that haven't pulled the trigger yet and don't look to anytime soon. A couple exceptions, but Nebraska seems to be keen and "in" on a few that are sporting a serious amount of offers.
Jeff Byers , Roland Martin , Brandon Braxton, Calvin Darity , Danny Muy, Brett Gallimore , Nyere Aumaitre , Gerald Cadogan, Jim Jadron , Edwin Rollman and in-staters, Mike Huff , Zach Copple and Adam Schroeder , all still targets on the map.
Out of those, the most realistic options for NU right now are:
Jeff Byers, Roland Martin, Danny Muy, Edwin Rollman and all the aforementioned in-staters.
If Nebraska were to get Byers, you might as well get out the smelling salts for most of the die-hard Husker recruitnicks and Martin and Muy aren't anything to sneeze at either.
Some of the most recent happenings that could be construed as positive or negative for Nebarska have been these:
Mr. All-Everything, SirDarean Adams has NU as his leader right now. Mr. All-Everything could describe his importance, thus indicating the quality of the schools offering him, but while that is true, it also indicates him as an athlete and that's just what he is. He is a pure-solid and gifted young man that can pretty much play anywhere he wants in regards to skill positions. He has the confidence to boot. "If you want me as a wide-receiver, I'll be the best receiver out there." Adams stated. "If you want me as a cornerback, I'll lock my man down and shut him down. No matter what the position you put me at, I think I am going to be the best out there on the field."
His relationship with Fabian Washington, not the mention the fact that he personally knows former Husker legend, Tommie Frazier and another former Husker, Shevin Wiggins, well that certainly doesn't hurt.
He actually raced Fabian once and said that he lost by an inch. If that's true, this kid has some serious darn wheels, Washington at one point holding the field-turf forty record, running an electronic 4.47.
On the negative side, if but for a moment, Peyton Hillis stated that Oklahoma was his clear number one and based on OU's fortune thus far this year and taking into account their noted recruiting prowess, that means NU is probably out.
Nebraska still has some hope though for a FB stud, because Chris Pressley is still on the map and he is enamored with the systems at both Nebraska and Wisconsin, because unlike some of the more glamorous teams, the Huskers and Badgers actually utilize their FB for something other than a blocking sled. At 6'2" and 255 and running a reported 4.53/40, Pressley obviously sports the physical attributes that you could build one solid prospect at the FB position.
And, Calais Campbell pulled the trigger for the Miami Hurricanes this last week, taking one of the more potentially incredible rush ends off the radar for the Husker coaching staff. That doesn't mean that NU is out on that position though as there are still some solid candidates that remain realistic, Chris Bowers , Willie Young , Mike Mangold , Trumaine Johnson and Alan Davis (listed as a TE, but being recruited by NU as a DE) all still in the fold, all still openly listing Nebraska as a viable prospect for the future.
Speaking of the future, the recruiting prowess of Nebraska would sponsor some pretty happy thoughts one might assume as this Nebraska staff has already secured what you would have to be considered a solid class and even a bit of a throwback to an era that seems distant right now.
As most have come to realize, the typical Nebraska class that equaled success wasn't one full of five-star studs, rather a couple big names, most of the best in-state talent and solid contributors throughout the rest of the commits.
One thing people haven't really hit on though is the fact that this staff is very intent on doing something that seemed to be almost common-place not so very long ago.
They get great athletes and make them great players. That's not to say Maurice Mclellan isn't a great linebacker, but he's a great running back and don't you recall the days when it seemed like every Nebraska player at a skill position other than RB was a RB at one point?
I know that's overstating it, but Nebraska was recruiting these kids from one position that demanded they be fast and put them in a position where that kind of speed would be considered a luxury, thus making the overall unit that much faster, especially since the coaches were capable of making them the kind of players they needed them to be.
Taking guys that were fast enough to be listed in the dyestat.com database. Going after running backs, knowing full-well that there was another position that needed their speed. I'm not saying NU hasn't done that in recent years, but early indicators right now are that, ok, they may have been going after all those types before, but now, it looks like they are actually getting some and at a point in the recruiting season where NU fans are used to seeing the bigger names start to drop NU, because they didn't need that name recognition anymore, the Huskers still find themselves amongst the lists of some of the best and most versatile talent in the country.
Trends can be good or bad as you know and thus far, this staff has increased the positive aspect of theirs, D.T. McDowell being just another example.
There are a variety of positions other than QB that NU will have to address this year. While Nebraska seems to be very attentive to the offensive line this year and most definitely, the linebacker position, you can rest assured that there are a couple more positions where they will go at and hard.
Safety: This position is often overshadowed by the CB and LB positions, simply because those units get more pub than the guys covering the inside and deep zones. These are typically bigger kids than defensive backs and a little faster than linebackers, but anymore, you can count on them to be as athletic as anyone else on the field.
I call safeties the cross between a DB and LB, because they are supposed to hit like linebackers and at times, cover like corners, but all while that is going on, be able to see the entire field like a veteran running back.
There really isn't a price you can put on a good one, all Husker fans shuttering in delight at just the thought of anyone coming in that could match the incomparable Mike Brown . Brown was different though in that his size wasn't great, but within that body, there was a load of speed, but what set him apart were unmatched instincts to play the game.
While you can judge some of their fundamental prowess at getting to the ball by statistics, without seeing film, you don't know just how aggressive they are, their tackle-total sometimes being representative of a poor defensive line.
With that in mind though, let's take a look at some of the more prolific safeties or probable safeties that still list NU as a possible school of choice.
Kyle Jackson : With 9 interceptions last year, he led his team in picks as you might imagine. From the safety position, that gives you a clear idea of what this young man is capable, especially if he intercepted these balls in zone coverage, rather than man. It means that they can close on the ball, has good instincts in reading the play as it develops and they know how to play the ball as well. A lot of safeties are going for the head and not the ball, but when you have a safety that can do both equally well, you've just given yourself a luxury against "spread offenses" that like to stretch defenses.
Out of the Mike Brown mold where you have athletes being asked to play safety are Stephen Green , Quran Barge and SirDarean Adams. All of these guys are athletic to the extreme and each has experience playing a variety of positions, safety falling in there at some point for most.
The advantage to this trio isn't just athleticism, it's size, all listed as at least six-foot tall. As every player on the offense has gotten bigger and faster, the demand for defensive players to be able to match-up is a must. Now, where you used to see 5'9" cornerbacks that could be successful consistently, those have been replaced with kids that are 6 foot and above that have just as much speed, just as good of hips and can physically contend with the sprouting receivers.
At safety, height is necessary for covering, but unlike cornerbacks who very rarely find themselves as "stocky"-type players, safeties are putting the muscle on with greater intensity, so that they can match up physically not only with receivers, but running backs and full-backs. Size does matter when you are talking about a frame to build that body on and each of these three have a close to ideal size to work with.
The safety position for the Huskers isn't deep by any means, even with youngsters like the Bullock twins considered to be guaranteed contributors. The loss of Steve Craver due to qualification problems only puts more urgency on the NU staff to fill not just that gap, but to fill a gap from two years ago where they only true safety Nebraska got was Andrew Shanle .
For this new staff, catching up for this year isn't the only focus, but catching up for a few years where recruiting at certain positions went into the tank is a priority as well.
We'll cover the other positions of urgent need over the next few TAKE TWOs, but for now, we'll leave you with this.
And with that, we'll take a look at the crystal ball and see what's coming or could be coming soon for the Nebraska recruitnik.
Ok, the game is important for a lot of reasons, but I'm telling you , if even half the recruits I have heard that could be coming to this game actually show up, it could be the biggest single recruiting weekend of the year for the NU staff.
Alumni weekend, the debut of the new and allegedly muscular Herbie Husker, heck, it doesn't get any better than that, right?
When Nebraska fields it's most prominent groups of officials during the weeks of December, the Aug. 30th contest for Nebraska is gaining more and more momentum as the biggest game of the year even before the year has begun. There's already a ton of pressure on Nebraska to show up for this contest because of the new staff, it's at home and everyone's attempt to rebound from last year's disaster, but boy oh boy, the significance behind what a butt-kicking on the Cowboys could do for an already-improved recruiting team, well, just start drooling at the possibilities now. It could be the biggest recruiting weekend of the entire year.
Practices begin within the week and your roving reporter (me) will be on the scene doing interviews, getting sound bytes and of course, asking all kinds of questions.
The thing is this year, I'm not just asking my questions, but I will be asking your questions as well. Check at the RED ZONE throughout the week to see who's coming up for interviews and you post a question and within the interview, I will ask your question and post his answer to that question on the board. From you to them, with just a little help from me, it's your connection to the players and what they are thinking and doing right now.
Just another something we are trying to do to offer you more for your TOTAL ACCESS subscription.
Also, seeing as how I will be doing some team stuff, the recruiting coverage can't cease and that segues me into quite nicely an introduction of our newest recruiting team member, Rich Thomas. With Jeremy covering a lot of the west coast and Rich covering the midwest and eastern regions (along with the west coast at times) and myself, just talking to anyone that will answer the phone, it's another cog in the recruiting-coverage wheel that we hope will get you yet again, more for your premium money.
Make sure to give him a big welcome if you see him on the board.
Ok, that's it for this edition of TAKE TWO. Hope you enjoyed it. Hope you might have even learned something you didn't know, but if you didn't, don't blame me, it's that guy that keeps holding the cue-cards upside down.
Either way, you take care, have fun, be good and we'll rap with you again on our next edition of TAKE TWO.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619