For this team to take another step forward in getting it back to being successful like teams in the mid-90's there is not only a re-tooling needed in offensive and defensive scheme, but for it's personnel as well. The Big Red Report gives you it's top Christmas wishes this year for the Nebraska football team!
1. Retention of currently committed players!
We saw it a bit over the past couple of weeks how the loss of a commitment will see the Nebraska coaches quickly looking for more offensive lineman with the loss of Marcus Gordon. Names like Garrett Reynolds, Ryan Hebert, and Cory Zirbel are some recent additions to the offer list by Nebraska.
Even more recent are players like Ben Oassi and there promises to be a huge offensive lineman offival visit weekend extravaganza in January. However, getting more on top of the 22 current commitments is always nice. Losing out of the 22 in these late weeks could be potentially disastrous.
On any other given year, people would still be playing with the thoughts of players like Harrison Beck, Marlon Lucky, Leon Jackson and Cody Glenn in the backfield at Nebraska next year. In stead, they are focused on what they haven't received. This class is perceived as one of the nation's best with those players previously mentioned and stand out defensive players like Zack Bowman, Steve Octavien, Dontrell Moore and others ready to step up and re-tool the defense.
The future for the commits does look bright Nebraska fans. But, those that have already made their commitments known and have started something great for this staff and for Nebraska fans to look forward to seeing need to be sure and hope that we haul in all of the ones that are currently committed, but not signed.
2. Get them qualified, please!
Most of Nebraska's fans know good and well that there are some academic hurdles in the futures of some of Nebraska's commits. Marlon Lucky's academics situation is well play out. People know that there is some work needed on part of Lucky to get qualified.
What some people may not realize is that Marlon Lucky isn't the only one to be having such hurdles that need to be crossed to get them to Lincoln and fully qualified. Lucky isn't even the only U.S. Army All-American to have these types of issues. Players like Rodney Picou and Leon Jackson also have this problem. You also have Wallace Franklin who apparently also has some of the same issues to conquer.
Nebraska is only able to take on partial qualifier per year since the formation of the Big 12. There will need to be some qualification gifts left under the Nebraska tree this holiday season to get them all qualified and in Lincoln next year.
3. Get on the commit train!
Finally we will touch on it, the uncommitted recruits that Nebraska is still in on that they have a shot in getting. With such players like Reggie Smith, Ndamukong Suh, Adam Myers-White, Nic Harris, Chris Brooks, Brandon LaFell, Nyan Boateng and others still uncommitted and keeping Nebraska high on their leader board there is little doubt that there is still a lot to look forward to over the next five to six weeks.
First, let's address this by need. You'll see that many of the aforementioned players were either wide receivers or safeties. While those two positions still have a need in this class, they are not as big as the needs at offensive line, in particular offensive tackle, and defensive line. With about 7 open spots left in this class to fill I see a good amount of players still left to visit officially and get on-board.
Some of the players that people will need to learn about are Ben Oassi, Matt Kopa and there will be some players that aren't currently on the recruiting radar from both the high school and junior college level that Husker fans will learn in January. Without a doubt the biggest glaring need still of this class is offensive tackles. I would expect 7-9 offensive tackles to visit in the coming weeks before signing day. We still need two.
The other side of the ball on defense has the second biggest need on the line. Now, you have Zach Potter on board who shows ability at the rush end position, a big commit and signature of Barry Cryer who will add instant depth on the interior of the line and the soft commitment of Lorenzo Jones who is also a very active defensive tackle who was up for the Dallas Metro area lineman of the year honor.
However, you still need at least one tackle and one defensive end. At the tackle position the favorite has to be Ndamukong Suh. While his updates sure show him liking all of the visits that he has taken after the Nebraska visit he still likes Nebraska and should be making a commitment in the coming weeks. A larger defensive end that could move inside is James McKinney. McKinney who was recently asked to leave from an official visit at Louisville, who seemed to be his leader, probably has it coming down to Nebraska and Michigan.
Other players across the defensive line that will continue to be on Nebraska's radar screen are Barry Turner, Steve Burch, Ola Dagunduro, Raymond Henderson, and Rodney Allen. This list will probably continue to grow over the next few weeks. Recent updates indicate that maybe all is not as rosy with Suh as what was once thought. Anthony Jackson looks like a gray-shirt offer, but carries with him tremendous up-side potential. We'll see. I would like to see 1-2 more defensive ends and another defensive tackle.
The wide receiver position we will visit next. I already spoke to qualification issues that may surround Franklin. Beyond that, he is impressive on the defensive side of the ball and his future may lie on that side of the field in fact as a cover corner with fellow teammate Calvin Mickens. The names that have always been there for Nebraska fans are Nyan Boateng and Brandon La Fell. While Boateng seems to be the favorite out of these two to end up in Lincoln, don't forget about La Fell. He sees opportunity in Lincoln in terms of playing time and the type of game that they want to run.
Some additions to this list are David Nelson and Chris Brooks. Nebraska already finished third in one Nelson sweepstakes when he chose Notre Dame over Kansas State and Nebraska. Since the firing of Tyrone Willingham though, Nelson has opened up the recruiting process to some extent although he still considers himself committed to The Irish. Brooks is similar and wants to make the right decision. He is still a Missouri commit, but a recent visit to Lincoln may have changed some things. There are some pretty positive thoughts about Nebraska's chances with Brooks. Nebraska will at least take one more here at wide receiver, while I would prefer 2-3 with the potential of moving Franklin to defense. Look for more "Franklin-like" situations to pop up with athletes that can play corner or receiver. One such name is Justin Thornton who I am personally hoping gets a Nebraska offer given his character, production numbers, and athletic attributes.
There is still a need that finds such players like Reggie Smith, Adam Myers-White and Nic Harris in and that is safety. The beauty about all three of these athletes, and throw Thornton into here, is that they all could play multiple positions. Smith can play cornerback, safety, and even receiver. Myers-White is an All-American safety that has the height and speed to play linebacker as well as receiver. Then you have Nic Harris who is the same, plus he excelled at returning the football and receiving. These three are all very scary players and provide match up difficulties all over the field. I am hoping for all three, but I think that two will very nice and would even be content with just one. However, some recent rumblings have me believing that we will get two from these players.
Aren't the holiday seasons great? And you thought that your gifts would only come over the next week or so. For Nebraska fans I anticipate similar days of receiving gifts on January 14 and 15 over the U.S. Army All-American game weekend and again on February 2 when the signed letters of intent come flying into the South Stadium offices.
It's a good and exciting time to be a Husker fan. May your Christmas be merry, red and white.