If you are a high school recruit and you play defense, there were a variety of games that would have gotten your juices flowing. USC shutting out Auburn, Ohio State's defense putting it to Washington or Georgia shutting out Clemson. With those ranked teams getting pub, you couldn't however have gone without noticing the effort of a Nebraska defense that nobody knew just what to expect from this year.
It was a defensive effort that left some with jaws wide open. "Oh my gosh!" DE, Adam Blankenship said. "You expect their (Nebraska's) offense to be good, but their defense just dominated."
Dominated indeed and a team that hadn't felt that kind of defensive prowess even from the defensively stout, Oklahoma Sooners of the last year or even two years. Josh Fields, Tatum Bell and especially Rashaun Woods felt the force of defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini's defense, but even with his NFL background, none (Adam included) probably envisioned any team doing to the appropriately acclaimed Rashaun Woods, what NU did on Saturday. "He's an all-star." Blankenship said of Woods. "No way I would have believed a team could have done that to him."
The "blackshirts" did that to him and pretty much everyone else on the offensive side of the ball, holding a team that was used to getting over 400 yards in offense per game last season to less than 185 over the weekend. Adam said the reason for the success was easy to see. "The entire defense was just swarming to the ball so fast." Adam said. "It was pretty ridiculous."
Ironic some would say that this defense is close to exactly the same defense Nebraska put on the field last year, the main difference of course being the coaches, Pelini, Sanders and Williams, whom accompanied defensive line coach, Jeff Jamrog in bringing this formidable unit to the field. For Blankenship, he remarked about the immense differences in performance despite the almost indistinguishable differences in personnel as "Wild.".
Adam does know good defense though when he sees it. As a member of the self-dubbed "The Pain Train", he and his teammates, members of the perennially powerful Union High school are used to defense dominance themselves. Union in fact is a traditional powerhouse, putting out traditionally powerful defenses, one of the biggest reasons for their success. It's a success built on a simple philosophy, hitting so hard it hurts. "You just want to whack the guy." Adam said of a ball-carrier. "You want it to be clean, but it could hurt you to, but you just don't care."
"You just fly in there and do what you got to do."
You wouldn't be surprised to learn that 3 out of Union's top 4 rated players are all on the defensive side, Blankenship on one side of the line, highly-touted DE, Nathan Peterson on the other and behind them, LB, Zac Snider. Ho-hum, just another year of defensive standouts for Tulsa's most prominent high school football team.
Unlike the other two though, Blankenship remains uncommitted, Peterson having pledged to Oklahoma State while Snider is off to Arkansas. These are not surprisingly enough teams that Adams himself is looking at, but it's early and they are just a few. Other teams Adam is looking at right now are Missouri, New Mexico State and of course, Nebraska, but again, Adam is taking his time. "I'm just kind of waiting until the end of the season to figure out what's going on." he said.
Out of the teams he is considering, Adam has six offers right now, Nebraska though not presently one of them. With that being said, Adam still considers the Huskers high on his list and would definitely put them up there if the Big Red did pony up with a written offer to play for the Huskers. "I just love the defense they play there." Adam said. "They are so strong and so fast, they just fly all over the place."
That is the kind of defense he likes, because that's the kind of defense Adam plays, a self-proclaimed speed-rusher off the outside, his usual key to success.
Adam though doesn't want to commit to saying any one team stands out, because there are so many that he wants to consider and he's still yet to play his final season of high school ball.
Union of course is going for yet another state title, one of many already in their trophy case and Adam, he's got simple individual goals in mind. "I just want to get a little bigger and a little faster and play better this year."
Simple? Yes, but defensive players don't often like to complicate things, as complicating things usually ends up with results the likes of what Nebraska had last year when they admitted that the complexity was part of the whole problem.
Keep it simple and be successful. Nebraska did and what they did to OSU impressed not only their fans, but recruits around the country and made defensive players especially take a little bit closer look. Adam isn't the only one, but few would argue that it's a pretty good start.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com 402-730-5619
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