Months ago, heck, last year even before his name almost became household in the Southeast, Cory Zirbel was looking west just wondering what was there.
Not sure as to just how good he was, what kind of offers he would have, Zirbel looked all over as to places that he thought he might like to play and amongst them, Nebraska was up towards the top.
It wasn't from anything he saw on TV, however, as Zirbel's Husker influence came from two actual former Huskers themselves. "I lift at the YMCA and there's two guys that moved here for a business that used to play for Nebraska.." Cory said. "One was a back-up fullback for their last national title team and the other was a receiver that was a freshman on that team to."
You'll have to forgive Cory if he couldn't remember their names off the top of his head as he said he knew at one point, but after introductions were made, the actual names never really came up again.
What those two players inspired in Cory was something about Nebraska, pondering what it might be like to play for a program like that.
So, he waited.
Not sure or for certain he would ever get an offer mind you, as at that point, Cory wasn't sure just how good he was. Well, now he has a decent idea. "You know, it's like before you get your first offer you don't know if anyone is going to want you." He said. "Yeah, I was big, but being big isn't good enough."
Big indeed as Cory said that he's currently sporting around 305 pounds on that 6'7"+ frame. Even being the son of a former professional power-lifter, well he was not just big, but as strong as an ox.
Until he got that first offer though, Cory said that he actually was wondering if Nebraska would ever get involved, hypothesizing about what these players had been telling him and what he would hear for himself.
And he waited.
Two weeks ago that waiting was over, the offer from NU finally coming. The thing is, instead of being offer 1,2,3 or even 23, they were 51st on the list. "Oh, I asked them kind of where they've been and they talked about all the changes at Nebraska." Cory said. "I was like, ‘Ok, I guess', but I don't know, we really just started talking."
You'd have to forgive Cory again due to the fact that when you are offer 51, that means you've gotten that schtick at least 50 other times. You know, the schtick, the ‘we want you, we love you, we need you, you can start right away', spiel that all super-prep all-everything athletes get.
Cory's basically heard it all. "What's funny about that is that some of these colleges will call you up and tell you all that and then, you never hear from them again." He said. "It's hard to know what to think when stuff like that happens."
It's the gritty reality of recruiting in that when you are good, you are hearing some of it, but when you are Cory Zirbel-good, you are hearing it all. And, once you've heard it all, well, once is usually enough.
"You get pretty numb to all the compliments, because from some of these guys, that's all you hear. They aren't asking me about me or talking about something else, it's just ‘you are this, you are that, we want you, blah, blah, blah'. "
"I'm going to spend four maybe five years of my life someplace. I need to know more about who I am dealing with or playing for than just what's going on, on the field."
Sounds a little cliché that a player would like to be treated like more than just a player. Even when that player has over half a hundred in written offers or maybe because of that. It ceases about proving your worth, rather now it's up to them to prove it to you.
That's where Cory is right now.
With a visit to Oklahoma already out of the way, he's been thinking about the future. Which visits to take, where those visits will go and thus far, he's got a fairly firm remaining two. "Well, for a long time it's really been a top two with Michigan and Oklahoma." Cory said. "Miami is the third and I've gotten a soft schedule of visiting those other two early December."
"I'm really trying to think about my season right now, so I'm not in any big hurry."
A top two with as Cory said, Michigan as a slight leader, but Cory also said that considering when he plans on announcing his decision, he's open to just about any number of possibilities. "I have been pretty confident that I will wait until signing day to make my decision." He said. "I don't see any reason to rush this at all. It's going to be absolutely the right decision for me and I figure by that point there won't be any questions I won't have answered."
One of those questions is indeed about Nebraska. Not about their tradition, however, or their awards, national titles, etc., so on and so forth. He's heard all about that from the two former Huskers that he knows. What he cares about is what the coaches recruiting him care about and how they'll relate that to him.
Does NU's running back coach, Randy Jordan stand a chance in getting Zirbel for a visit or will Cory's list remain firm for the foreseeable future? That's what Husker fans want to know. "I'm not ruling out anything." He said. "They offered me just two weeks ago and it's my fifty-first offer. I haven't talked to them very much, don't know what they are like, so it's like building a relationship and that takes time."
"I'm giving it that time, because I am not making my decision anytime soon. So, I guess the ball is in their court really. We'll just have to see how it goes."
As will we and Cory's season is still going, the last game of the regular season to come this Friday night. His team will try to better their last performance, one that saw his offense do something that not many offenses do. "We turned the ball over eight times." He said. "It was the worst game I have ever seen."
Needless to say, Cory's looking at that particular snafu as a hopeful aberration rather than the reality of a team dipping instead of peaking at the right time.
Stay tuned as we stay close to Zirbel, his recruiting situation and whether or not Nebraska will indeed find their way into his mind or if the Huskers will be much like some have thought of him, simply a number, the 51st number on his list.