The future for Nebraska is now

Unlike last year, this recruiting class is almost complete. Yes, it's not almost time to start over, but almost time for it to be done. The drama, the ups and downs of the recruiting season, almost over, Husker fans ready to think about what the future holds for this team. I'll run them down as we look at who's in, who could be out and who could still play for NU right away.

Who would have thought after last year and really, for the last four years that NU would be looking at over 20 commits right now.

 

21 to be exact, 5 from the junior college ranks.

 

That's a heck of a lot considering not only the season NU had last year, but the uncertainty towards this year.

 

Think about some of the stuff we have seen.

 

First, you have 2 wideouts committed toNebraska and nobody seems to care that there isn't a wideout coach around. I'm not kidding. The overriding thought seems to be that as long as NU gets a QB that can throw consistently well, everything else will take care of itself.

 

I even remember one wide receiver telling me about Nebraska 's offense from having watched it first hand last year no less than three times, he lost count of all the receivers that were wide-open just waiting for a ball that either went incomplete or to the other team.

 

"The guy doesn't belong in that system." This prep-receiver said. "He looks like he wants to run, but can't and he's not able to sit back and deliver. They need a guy that can read and connect."

 

The criticisms have been many of Joe Dailey, but unlike his rather outspoken counterpart last year, Dailey's continual solid-attitude and the fact that his team respected him enough to elect him as the first Sophomore ever to be named captain at NU, fans gave the New Jersey native a very wide berth.

 

That doesn't change the fact that there are preps that haven't signed with NU and one QB that will never sign, but one day remarked about a reason he thought for NU's struggles. "I play something pretty similar." Mark Sanchez said. "It's not about attempts, it's about percentages. You see offense like Texas Tech that looks like they are just throwing it as many times as you can and use that to win, but with all those yards and attempts, they don't have a ton of wins."

 

The attraction that the pledge of Harrison Beck and his percentage-throwing has had was enough that Wallace Franklin even carried Beck's stats around with him at school. It was enough that when people saw that he was one of the top ten quarterbacks in the country, it was enough to say that NU showed they were doing what they could to change.

 

"That's not a great offense to learn as you go." Zack Bowman said. "Especially if you are a QB, because you go from like maybe one receiver you key on before to three, four and even five."

 

"That's going to be hard for someone that isn't use to it."

 

So, Nebraska brings in Beck, now joined by junior college transfer, Zac Taylor and the wideouts that are at NU, stay and there are receivers that are still expected to come.

 

Chris Brooks, the long-time commit to Missouri , now off of his official to Nebraska , says that things might be a little different. The family situation with he, his fiancé' and his son, Chris Jr., it's the support system he's looking for and NU is by reputation hard to beat

 

Add that to the probable commit by New York WR, Nyan Boateng who is expected to commit to Nebraska while he's down in San Antonio , and you have one of the best overall groups of receivers around.

 

That would put NU at 23 commits by the way.

 

One place where Nebraska doesn't need to look any farther is at running back. Should everyone that has committed end up signing, Nebraska sports the best group of backs in the country, bar none. Marlon Lucky, Leon Jackson, Cody Glenn. The only question about this group is who's getting on the field the first year.

 

There are obvious questions about who NU has other than Ross that might also add to this mix, but the numbers don't match – there's simply going to be a glut at the I-back position. Even if someone like Glenn redshirts, that gives you Lucky, Jackson, Ross, Green, Horne and Brandon Jackson as a new and improved committee.

 

That's not a committee, that's the entire company. If Nebraska had this position as one of its must-needs, they answered it and then some.

 

The big question a lot of people had after the season was one they just didn't think they would have.

 

What in the heck happened to the defense?

 

The group that was supposed to save this offense from itself until everyone had time to gel. Well, it looks like they needed the time as well and in fact, still need it.

 

The best secondary in the country became one of the most mediocre. An All-American in safety, Josh Bullocks, now an afterthought, his brother actually posting more picks this last year than him. And, Fabian Washington all but disappeared at a time when some thought he would shine with NU's defense going back to primarily "man" coverage.

 

With all that experience coming back, most would even think of what NU needs to do to replace them, but whether this group can't play in man or simply have lost any kind of cohesion with the first-year

If Myers-White becomes a Husker,
he could easily see the field his
first year.

secondary coach, Phil Elmassian, obvious changes have to be made.

 

That's possibly the reason NU has been going so hard after players like Reggie Smith, Adam Myers-White, Nic Harris and other safeties that could be seen to fill the void. Currently, Zack Bowman and Calvin Mickens are the only pure cornerbacks in the class, but Bowman is already slotted in to play opposite Washington come the first game of the year.

 

It would seem blasphemy to think that you might take out the Bullocks tandem despite the chances of getting any of the aforementioned standouts. The writing does appear to be on the wall though, so if Nebraska does indeed score Smith and Myers-White between now and signing day, that would put them at 25 and an apparent controversy on the horizon.

 

I know you are looking at the 25 number and thinking NU must be done. Well, not exactly, because I gave you the list that you see when you click on the link of commits, but that isn't quite accurate as to what NU's current situation is.

 

First, Jeff Souder is a greyshirt, meaning he has a deferred scholarship to either next semester or the next academic year. So, he doesn't count, but I didn't include him as he would be number 22 as it was.

 

Ok, next, the junior college players and I won't go into that whole deal about who counts against what, but there were three spots open on last year's recruiting class that 3 out of the 5 junior college players were applied.

 

That takes you total then from 25 down to 23, which is accurate, because one of the junior college players aside from Zack Bowman who will sign in February along with rest of the regular recruiting class was counted as part of the class of 2005.

 

Ok, so that's three more spots open and they will go where?

 

Nebraska addressed its needs at linebacker beautifully this year and what's better, with instant help on the vacated outside positions. With Stewart Bradley more than likely moving inside to MLB that leaves Steve Octavien and Dontrell Moore as the obvious choices to take those spots, one vacated by the graduated, Chad Sievers.

 

NU did well at middle linebacker to, but while Phillip Dillard would seem physically ready to go, it's going to take some doing to get around both Bradley and Corey McKeon.

 

We must also not forget Nick, Covey, but he's likely to redshirt and based on the health at the TE position, don't rule Nick out there. I know his size doesn't say he would be effective there, but Nick has great hands and feet, just not the speed to be a true receiver.

 

He's just a very solid possession guy.

 

With linebacker filled, we move to the defensive line and you can add in the offensive line here as two units that need a lot more bodies.

 

With possibly three and even more (I'll explain that at the end) scholarships available for Nebraska , it's going to be a matter of what you can get this late in the year.

 

On defense line, it's looking pretty decent, with the commits of Barry Cryer, a junior college player that like most junior college players, has at least the potential to start right away. You also have Lorenzo Jones, who as we speak is a soft verbal and it's unclear what visits he's taking and when. If he does make it to Nebraska, he's a big addition as he constitutes the only other true DT NU has for this group. Jacob Hickman is a definite redshirt for Nebraska, so he's out of the mix this year. They could need one more, though, as Brandon Teamer, while potentially solid, hasn't stayed healthy for any extended period of time.

 

At the ends, you might be able to slot David Harvey here instead of at TE, especially if Herian comes back healthy. I'm not sure that either Josh Mueller or J.B. Phillips has Harvey 's potential speed or quickness, but they should offer Nebraska at least a decent threat between 5-15 yards.

 

Harvey , if he's slated to play DE, would add to Zack Potter, but while Potter is a physical specimen and his upside is incredible, he's not realistically a guy that's going to play right away. Potter has the frame and it appears the quickness, but physically, he's probably a year away before he's going to be able to really contribute.

 

The loss of Benard Thomas obviously puts the pressure on a unit that will have potentially potent starting-talent with Adam Carriker and Jay Moore and a great pass-rushing threat off the bench in Wali Muhammad. That's where it gets iffy as the status of Adam Blankenship and Ty Steinkuhler is still up in the air as to just how ready they are.

 

Turner would add instant depth
to the Rush End position.
Right now, the players most likely here are Barry Turner and yes, until Raymond Henderson ends his little hint-parade down in San Antonio, he's still a possible for the job. As for the interior, Ndamukong Suh tops the charts as NU's best shot at one of the best tackles available. Jerrell Powe has seemingly fallen off the map, but there could be grade considerations with that.

 

James McKinney is also another option that is still out there, following his rather dramatic exodus from his Louisville official, the teams now seemingly in the hunt being Michigan and the Huskers.

 

If NU can get one for either the end or interior position, it won't be great, but that will give them possibly two left and quite frankly, there's only one place those should go.

 

The offensive line was decimated before last year begun, so the losses of Jake Andersen and Mike Erickson and probably Greg Austin due to his incredibly painful fight with an old and persistent knee injury, whatever Nebraska can get here, they simply have to get.

 

You have great ones in Craig Roark and Rodney Picou, but just based on those three that are probably out, the numbers obviously don't match up.

 

Marcus Gordon would have been a great addition to the group, but his soap opera has probably made him no longer viable for the job.

 

That puts coach Wagner under the gun to find linemen, a lot of them and in as little time as he possibly can. There are two solid slots he can fill, but there are still possibly 3 more slots that can be used due to graduates, that vacate scholarships that can be counted against the total of 85 and not against last year or next year's class.

 

That number seems to be rather fluid right now, so don't quote me, but let's just say that NU has 5 positions left.

 

With offensive linemen a must, you now just wonder who's left. Well, the good news for the Huskers is that Matt Pipho is now taking a visit, something Pipho himself was trying to schedule, but it didn't look like it would end up working out.

 

Matt Kopa is another that you might not want to forget, as he is currently a Stanford commit, but until their coaching situation gets solidified, he's keeping his options open. And, depending on who gets what assistant positions that will determine whether he's staying or going.

 

One name that has surfaced due to the lack of linemen commits right now is that of Ben Ossai. He's visiting in mid-January, but will not be alone as there are expected to be some 6 other visitors, most slotted in for the trenches.

 

There's a chance from the defensive line prospects that NU could use more than one of its available scholarships there, so what that side gets, the offensive side won't. I figure the staff to really emphasize these two units from this time forth. Yes, there's going to be some commits to Nebraska coming out of the All-American Bowl, but most of the bigguns are going to probably come with just a couple of weeks to go before signing day.

 

The question you have is that out of this group, who can come in and play right away?

 

Well, I would look at "can" and "will" as two different things, but I do believe they are good things.

 

When you look at this recruiting class, you don't break it down by how good each player is coming in, rather, you look at who's still here on the team and of course, who left

 

When you look at it like that, the possibilities are a little clearer.

 

At QB, the issue has been and will be obvious in that they need somebody back there that can consistently make the passing-game work. With Dailey's struggles, in-coming JUCO QB, Zac Taylor and

Zac Taylor should
be either number 1
or 2 once the home
-opener arrives.

JUCO transfer, Jordan Adams seem like the most viable candidates.

 

If Husker fans are lucky, Harrison Beck will redshirt, because while Beck is no doubt going to try to start, it would be better for everyone concerned that if you want this kid to shine when does go, give him a year before he steps out onto the field

 

At RB, this is going to be a war. While Tierre Green will still need size to be more than an outside threat and David Horne seems to have disappeared for good, the race for the rest of them is going to be one of great battles to watch.

 

Cory Ross, Brandon Jackson, Marlon Lucky, Leon Jackson, Cody Glenn and don't count out the name, Thomas Lawson. I think that between all of them, no matter how it shakes out, this is going to be one of the best backfields NU has had in a very, very long time.

 

At WR, throw your hat into the ring and let's see who's standing at the end. With the loss of their top receiver, Ross Pilkington, to departure and Andy Birkel opting out of his Husker career, there's nobody safe, no job assured and anyone that can catch the ball and do something with it afterwards, that's a guy that is going to get a serious look for the job.

 

The staff is looking for the best six and you can bet that whoever NU has committed now and whoever there is to come, they will have just as good a shot at getting on the field as all of the receivers on the team right now. This one is totally wide-open.

 

At TE, it's a shoe-in if Herian is healthy. David Harvey will probably be tried out at both DE and TE. I figure he'll redshirt his first year, so that leaves Mueller and J.B. Phillips amongst others to pick up the slack. If Herian isn't starting, Phillips is the best possession-guy, but there's probably not a tight end on the roster that will be able to give NU what Matt was able to, at times.

 

At FB, it's probably Dane Todd's job to lose. Of course, everyone is still speculation that Cody Glenn could end up making the move to this position. That's not what Cody intends, of course, so if that doesn't happen, Todd goes and it's unclear just how the depth shapes up behind him. Grant Miller has been a relative no-show since he came to NU.

 

At DE, it's Adam Carriker and Jay Moore, at least for now. You have Wali Muhammad as the pass-rushing threat and the legit depth behind this group is Ty Steinkuhler and Adam Blankenship. The loss of Thomas hurts, but Carriker and Moore should be a good combo.

 

Of those coming in, whether Harvey plays this side or not and Potter as well, both aren't likely to play their first year. Potter is an exceptional specimen, but for the DE position, he'll probably need a redshirt year before he's ready to come in.

 

Now, NU has a shot at Barry Turner and the saga with Raymond Henderson is such that NU fans must still pay attention. If NU gets Turner, that's huge, because this is a kid that can at least get a good look to get out there right away if neither Steinkuhler or Blankenship can step up. If they get Henderson , he's someone that I am sure the staff will try to get out there one way or another. Physically, Henderson is just a solid prospect and in NFL-terms, he's that first-rounder that you expect to play right away.

 

On the defensive interior, the biggest question for me is whether or not Brandon Teamer can stay healthy and if Lorenzo Jones stays a commit to NU. Nebraska is still looking good with players like Ndamukong Suh and James McKinney and they have of course, JUCO transfer, Barry Cryer.

 

Titus Adams and Le Kevin Smith are the starters and it will take a helluva effort to unseat them, but Cryer can do it and Suh is a guy that could add immediate depth if Teamer lacks the health to go all year this time around. With the way the staff has platooned these guys, I can see everyone that comes in this class getting a shot to play. In fact, I would almost expect it. There was literally no pass rush or any kind of major push from the inside this last season, so whatever combination can give them that, that's the one they'll use. This is another battle that is wide-open right now.

 

Octavien's speed is already
instilling hopes that he will bring
back what NU lost when Demorrio
Williams went to the NFL.

The linebacker position is actually looking pretty good. I never thought I would say that after last year and especially after what they lost. To replace a Barrett Ruud, well, that's impossible, but Bradley is a smart player and it's going to be hard for Dillard to take his spot away. The biggest battle here is for the number two spots, Dillard vs. McKeon for the middle and Brungardt vs. Brandenburgh for weakside. I think Bo Ruud is a shoe-in to play behind Octavien at SAM.

 

In the secondary, I don't know what is going on here. If you can believe what happened last year as an indication that one of the best secondaries took one of the biggest nose dives in history, well, then you would think you replace the whole group and see what you can do.

 

I think there's chemistry here to deal with and not with each other, but with the coach. If the story is true about defensive players not buying into what coaches were doing last year, the very fact that you have most of the same defensive players coming back, that's not a good sign.

 

Elmassian's comments about this being his worst secondary in his peripatetic coaching career do not bode well for the future.

 

Let's try to assume that it's not a complete makeover, though and just assume that out of those coming in, Bowman is slotted to the opposite of Fabian Washington. That means Grixby either gets the starting nickel-slot or backs up Bowman more than likely, or both. There is of course, Donald DeFrand who still hasn't seen any consistent amount of time, but looks to be the best shot to back up Washington this year. There's also Titus Brothers who performed well in limited duty last year, but with Elmassian's noted comments about "short" DBs, Titus looks to have his work cut out for him.

 

That leaves safety and the Bullock twins to fend for their jobs and normally, I'd say they are not in any danger.

 

However.

 

If NU does indeed get Smith and Myers-White, while they are still quite young, I think the fresh attitude might actually give them a solid shot in. Andrew Shanle should not be discounted as he did a marvelous job in very limited minutes last season. Shane Siegel is also very serviceable at the position.

 

I hate to say this, though, because it doesn't speak of a great situation for anyone if this turns out to be true.

 

There's too much politics going on here for me to even get a feel for what's going on. I saw the Bullock-brothers start off horrible in man-coverage, but as the year wore on, they got progressively better. Against Oklahoma , I thought that defensively, they had their best game, despite the fact that White went crazy against Nebraska .

 

White just had one of those games, but the Bullock-twins had great coverage most of the game and that's against just an incredible group of wideouts.

 

Realistically, I would say that the job should easily be theirs while whoever comes in will vie for time or redshirt, but with what has gone on over the last year and of course, in the off-season, who knows where this is going to be.

 

Rands looks as
solid shot for NU
to better its woeful
punt-return game.

On special teams, the addition of Robert Rands will be a welcome sight as Santino Panico, while dependable to the nth degree and just one of the nicest kids you are going to meet, his punt return average that put NU amongst the worst in all of Division 1-A, that simply won't do.

 

Rands, like Marque McCray is slight in size, but huge in the kinds of moves they can make in the open-field. Rands is electric and will get a very, very good look to play his first year. Rands is listed at corner and while he may make the depth chart at possibly back up for third string in the nickel-slot, special teams is where this young man will be.

 

He along with Ross , Leon Jackson, Marlon Lucky, Marque McCray and possibly even Zack Bowman, Terrence Nunn and Brodrick Hunter will all get shots at punt return.

 

Brandon Jackson blew up in kickoff returns once he finally got some legit time back there. Don't expect that to change. You don't bite the hand that feeds you and he's been a big spoon of sustenance for this somewhat beleaguered group. There will be two slots, of course, and you can expect Green to vie for that job again, but many of those mentioned above will probably get good looks as well.

 

Also, don't rule out guys like Octavien and Moore who have the speed to work here as well.

 

Punting, it's a done deal even before it started, Sam Koch the obvious choice and as for kicking, Sandro may be gone, but David Dyches doesn't have a job to lose. It could be Jordan Congdon's before it's all said and done. Congdon is the real-deal and could be one of the best freshmen kickers in the country.

 

This is going to be a fun battle to watch. Yes, I just said that about the two-deep for kickers. Ironic or depressing?

 

Summary of Mayhem in the making

 

When you have a class this good going to a team that has been noted for its deficiencies in talent, well, a lot of people expect a lot of new faces to play. And, that's pretty realistic.

 

While it is going to be up in the air, of course, as to who will and won't or who might vie at least for the two-deep, I anticipate that no less than half of this class is going to see some action their first year.

 

In my estimation, these are the shoe-ins for time this year:

 

Zack Bowman

Barry Cryer

Steve Octavien

Dontrell Moore

Zac Taylor

Leon Jackson

Marlon Lucky

Brodrick Hunter

Craig Roark

Rodney Picou

Wallace Franklin

Robert Rands

Jordan Congdon

 

That's a heck of a list, but that might not even be all of them as this class isn't done quite yet. Of the guys that Nebraska could still end up getting that I think would get on the field right away, those go as follows:

 

Ndamukong Suh

Adam Myers-White

Reggie Smith

Chris Brooks

Nyan Boateng

Matt Pipho

Barry Turner

Raymond Henderson

 

 

And, that's not including the influx of JUCOS that could come at the offensive line position.

 

Yeah, extreme, isn't it? It's both good and bad, but what you can interpret the most from this is the fact that NU did its job and then some in recruiting and yes, there's a lack of playmakers on the team right now.

 

What is good about playing this many freshmen is that for the future, you are set with experience and equally important, depth.

 

It's also attractive to recruits around the country when you play a lot of freshman, hence the reason Jeff Byers said he ultimately chose USC.

 

It's a breakdown, but believe it or not, a mild one. We can break this down even farther, but for the sake of those with ADD that have already lapsed into an unreasonable trauma from this article, I'll leave it at that.

 

They are all just possibilities for the future.  


Big Red Report Top Stories