Recruiting Roundtable: You ask, We answer

What's the hottest recruiting questions right now? Well, we've got them and the answers as well. Check out what people want to know about what's going on with NU recruiting right now and, for the future.

Nebraska doesn't appear to be a solid favorite for any stud tight ends, how much of an emphasis will the staff put on recruiting tight ends from here on out?

Bryan: I would say that Nebraska would be a leader for Michael McNeil right now. However, I have been hearing that TE, as odd as this might be, isn't a huge priority for this year. I don't know what the thought process is behind this, but that is what I am hearing. I do know that the coaching staff thought A LOT of David Harvey when he was at camp and he just needs a year to get physically ready to play. Tomerlin will be there this year, Herian may miss the season, I was half-way impressed with Phillips and Sievers, but Mueller needs to step up. Don't be shocked if McNeil or Jordan McMichael could be your tight ends in this class or none taken at all.

Brandon: I think quite a bit because the tight end is such a focal point of the WCO, plus we aren't really brimming with top talent and who knows when or even if Matt Herian will come back? I can see Cody Glenn working as an H-back this year to take some pressure off of Justin, but we need legit guys at the position, too. It would behoove us to get either one REALLY good tight end (Konrad Reuland) plus another above average tight end (McNeil?) or two to three above average tight ends, maybe one of those being supposedly average but with good potential.

Justin: I think we will attempt to secure a solid tight end prospect and if we can't get one, we might very well move on to another position. We have a lot of holes and there appear to be a lot of players interested in other positions. Another possibility is finding a three to play two guy out of the junior college ranks.

Steve: If you've got one of the better tight ends in the country you use them, but I think this staff looks at that position as one of luxury, not necessity. I haven't noticed that they are thinking this is an urgent need, nor do I think that if they had the wideouts they wanted, this would be a position, that at least as a serious scoring threat from outside the twenty, is a position that they will rely on a great deal.

The west coast offense has seen a variety of variations; some utilizing the tight end a great deal like San Francisco and others not relying as much on them such as Detroit.

I see this staff viewing the position as one that will first be blockers with the ability to do something in the short field, but I doubt that they will go out of their way to find a serious playmaker at the spot. If there is one position where I think this staff would feel just as comfortable developing players as recruiting it, it's this one.

It happens every year, no matter who the coach was. Nebraska will hand out offers to players after they see them perform in summer camps. Name five players who have the best chance to pick up an offer based off good performances.

Bryan: Although I do not know who the list has on it I will tell you who I am guessing, if they camp, could earn offers this summer:
1. Cole Bunner – Much has been said about his performance in KC. All he needs to do is follow up that performance with one similar and he will get an offer.
2. Derrick Russell – Pretty much ditto the Bunner comments.
3. Tyler Bullock – This is an athletic guy that could play a number of positions for Nebraska. If he comes in and shows favorably expect an offer.
4. Scott Krehbiel – He doesn't have an offer, not even a verbal one, from Nebraska. He was told to do well in camp and you might get an offer. He has everything to gain from a strong performance.
5. Jeff Tarpinian – Has the height and speed to be a safety at the next level. I am thinking that Nebraska will need a look at his hips and aggressiveness as a safety.

BONUS – There are a couple of very fine looking OL coming in from Illinois and another from MN that I know about, but haven't been reported anywhere. I won't say what their names, but I will tell you that all of them are in need to get evaluated and could get an offer.

Justin: Derrick Russel, Cole Bunner, Tyler Bullock, Sean McWhirter, Jason Swift

Steve: There's going to be more than a few that walk out with offers, but the question will then be about Nebraska sealing them up. I would expect that Nebraska is going to come out of this camp with more than a few commits and some of them may very well be those that are offered based on what they did at the camp coming up. Here's some that I think could get offered, but if they are, Nebraska has a real shot at getting them in the end.

1. Derrick Russell – he performed well at the Nike combine in Manhattan, KS and if he does so again here in Lincoln, I think he's got an offer coming. He's very athletic, tall, lanky and quick, but the offense he's been a part of in Omaha wasn't made for a star wide receiver. He'll get a lot more opportunities at Lincoln North Star, but this is his time to shine. I think that if he shows at in Lincoln, he walks out with an offer.

2, Cole Bunner of Elkhorn Mt. Michael is another that I think is on the cusp of getting an offer. If he can show good quickness, feet and the foundations of what Wagner can build upon, he's got the size, frame and potential to be a solid prospect.

3, Sean McWhirter – The son of a former Husker, there's a certain affection with wanting to go the way that dad went. McWhirter could do that if he can make it to the camp and show that what he lacks in possibly the ideal size, he makes up for in sheer athleticism. Sean is a bit of a ‘tweener' when it comes to playing either RE or LB, so what he has to show is that he has the speed to compete. If he can do that, he could walk out of there with another school to choose from.

4. Scott Krehbiel – A good sized offensive lineman, Krehbiel's not totally under the radar where Nebraska is concerned, but he's a big enough question mark on film that NU needs to see him up close. The Husker staff made a couple of mistake offering kids on film last year, that they realized were mistakes once they arrived. Scott is a kid they can run through all the drills firsthand and because of his size and quickness, if he does well in the individual drills, where he's going to have a ton of competition, he's got a great shot at a ship.

5. Ryan Mallet – This young man is kind of a no-brainer as Nebraska will be one of many offers he's going to get in the future. I think, though, that like A.J. Wallace, the Huskers are going to want to be on the doorstep of this one as he did remarkably well last year and should be even better this time around. This kid is a stud, period. There's no doubt he'll get an offer, but it's going to be exciting to see him if he makes it up here once more.

Will Freeman and Holt remain committed until Signing Day?

Bryan: Yes. Freeman is an early enrollee and I have a feeling that Freeman knows what kind of attention and what he could possibly be after 4-5 years in the system and with Dave Kennedy. Holt will follow suit and knows that Freeman, Beck and even Taylor NEED a big, jumping WR to catch that corner fade route. He's a must have.

Brandon: I'm about 99.9% sure that they will simply because when I interviewed them the day of their commitments, they both told me they same thing: We're tired with the process, we're finished with it. Kind of says it all, doesn't it? The fact is, Holt and Freeman found a staff, a city and a campus they love, so why mess with it? Josh has been to Notre Dame, he's been around the block, he knows other staffs and nobody was able to beat Nebraska.

Holt was offered by Nebraska WAY early. We showed him the love. We showed him we didn't care what other schools thought about him. WE wanted him and we proved that over and over again. Plus, the "Package Deal" works out for us this way. If one commits and the other commits, then theoretically, unless one de-commits, the other probably wouldn't anyway. Holt and Freeman love Nebraska so I doubt they ever stray. Though, honestly, I doubt that stops 2-3 rumors swirling between now and February.

Justin: I definitely think both of these guys are about as solid as they come. I have known for some time along with everybody else that Freeman would end up a Husker. Nobody pays their way for that long of a trip five times unless they are investing for the future. Holt seems enamored with the prospects of our offense and I am not even worried about the pact that was made. It really didn't have as much of an effect as some might be led to believe. Holt doesn't have a lot of great offers at this point and he seemed to want to leave California. These guys are Husker red all the way until signing day.

Steve: As long as Nebraska sticks to their side of the deal, Freeman will stick to his. Like Beck before him, Freeman is the kind of kid that when he says it, it's basically done. The same goes for Holt, but I think that there are strong enough ties here with not just Freeman, but Congdon and everything else, Holt is in, but he'll have to wait until probably June of next year, while Josh is coming in January to enroll early at the "U".

Should Nebraska look to the walk-ons for a QB this year?

Bryan: I am sure they will, but will it matter? They tried to get Dan Gorski with a preferred walk-on and he chose the education and the same offer from Notre Dame. Now, Enderle could be a similar situation this year for Nebraska. They might have filled their quota, but have a good in-state player growing up in their own backyard. I am sure that Nebraska will try and keep him giving him the same option as Gorski. Until Nebraska is back though, in-state kids given less than an offer will continue to leave the state for "better" opportunities. When Nebraska is back though, we will continue to harvest out walk-ons that could have taken scholarships elsewhere.

Brandon: Depends. The recruiting process is a long and arduous one and much like last year, we could end up taking two scholarship quarterbacks. Freeman's there obviously and there may be another highly-touted high school QB or even a JUCO. If that's the case, no, there is no more room at the Inn and we need bodies elsewhere, thank you.

If that is not the case, however, why the heck not? There's some solid prospects in Nebraska this year, for a PASSING team, no less. If they can come in, perform and give us solid depth, I don't care if they come from Cracked Elbow, Nebraska with a population of three families and the stop sign. If the kid can ball, he can ball.

Justin: I would love for Nebraska to get Nathan Enderle as a walk-on this season. I firmly believe that a successful scholarship plan will be to take one quarterback every season and hope to get a respectable in-state kid who will walk on. Enderle fits that bill to a "t" and could eventually produce at a high level.

Steve: The walk-on ranks are perfect for Nebraska right now and I think that you now have the luxury of being able to groom someone into the system. We all remember the great Nebraska offensive lines, loaded with juniors and fifth year seniors. When you have depth, you can groom younger players into the system and by the time they are juniors, you might have turned a walk-on into a star. There's always going to be good prospects out there, if you are willing to take the time to show them the way.

Does Nebraska still need another injection of even more junior college players or was last year enough?

Bryan: No, they will need some more, but not as many as last year. Last year's crop of JUCO talent was for immediate results. No one wants another 5-6. Not the coaches. Not Steve Pederson and certainly not the Nebraska faithful.

The injection that Nebraska received this year is enough to slow the bleeding, but ultimately the rest of the bleeding lies in the quality of depth. There are a position or two though that you need to land junior college help for this year.

I would be looking for JUCO help for the following positions:

1. Safety – We lose the top two.
2. Defensive Tackle – We lose the top two and top two backups will be SRs next year.
3. Tight End – Depending on whether or not Herian's injury isn't just season ending last year and this year, but career ending.
4. Cornerback – Always looking for help here.
5. Offensive Tackle – if for some reason we can't get 2 more legit OT's, look for Nebraska to take a look at the JC route. Fenuki is a guy that could enroll at semester and is being considered highly by Nebraska.

Brandon: I think it would be foolish for us not to explore the options of JUCO players every year. There's simply far too much talent available out there not to. What we don't want to do is become dependant on them or you have what is commonly referred to as "Kansas State Syndrome". You're trying to patch up holes so fast that by the time a leak is fixed, you've got two more. I honestly don't know how HCBS does it.

Now, JUCO players, traditionally, have been used when there is an area of extreme need. Well, I can think of a few areas of extreme need such as the defensive backfield, offensive tackle and defensive tackle. I don't think too many folks would be upset and we picked up, say, the best JUCO safety in America or a prospect with the potential of a Zack Bowman for the safety slots.

What you have to do on the back end of that is recruit well in the high school ranks at the same time, so you've got to look to guys like Jonas Mouton who can come in, learn for a bit and then get ready to kick butt when the time comes calling. This year, you'll probably see a few JUCOs, but nowhere near what we had last year and following this year, I wouldn't mind 1-3 of them per year on average.

Justin: Well I certainly don't think Nebraska will take near as many junior college players as last year, but I feel 3-4 are still a very likely possibility. They will all be highly touted guys though.

Steve: The first thing you have to realize is that within the junior college ranks, like Mike Rozier once was, there are guys you don't pass on, no matter what. Defensive end Louis Holmes is one of those as you wouldn't immediately say that the rush end position is something you desperately need, but this kid is a certified freak. You don't pass on him no matter how deep you are, because all he can do is make you better at the position.

Nebraska does need more help, though, the secondary glaring still, even with the guys coming in, because you don't know how each will pan out. NU has already gone five for five with their junior college players this year, but don't expect that trend to continue.

It just doesn't happen.

Even if Bowman and Wilson do what they are supposed to do, you have starters, but there's still very little experience in depth.

The O-line will be one position that will always and I do mean always be a place that you can insert junior college players, because you need so many players just to get a quality starting group, it takes even more to establish some depth. The offensive line isn't anywhere close to that right now, so if you are going to get junior college players, this is one position where I would be throwing them in, in bunches.

Which junior college players do you think start this year, no matter what point of the season?

Bryan: Obviously you have Taylor who will roll this season as the starter from Maine to the bowl game. I believe that Tomerlin brings too much athleticism to not be looked at immediately for playing time and ultimately to start. Brock Pasteur is going to get an early look. Frantz Hardy should be penciled in as the starter from the X position. I believe that there are situations where you will see Barry Cryer and Ola Dagundero both get a lot of time or even start a game depending on the package that we are in. Steve Octavien should be the starter at WILL. Zach Bowman and Brian Wilson should be our CB starters this fall. The wildcards to me are Dontrell Moore and Tyrell Spain. Spain could make an impact at S, but I think that he will stay at WR especially since Leon Jackson will be in Lincoln now. Moore needs to learn the discipline of the defense and I think will be a starter at MIKE or SAM sometime this season.

- Justin Tomerlin – Will start at TE and needs at the very least a serviceable year.
- Frantz Hardy – Ladies and gentlemen, your starting burner WR.
- Brock Pasteur – I expect him to nail down a tackle slot.
- Ola Dagunduro – The guy is just too good to keep off the field. I suspect he overtakes a starting slot at some point, possibly immediately and gives us an excellent rotation.
- Steve Octavien – Starting LB from day one.
- Zac Taylor – Duh. Check the cover of the new BRR magazine. Need I say more?
- Zack Bowman – Absolute FREAK. Yeah, he'll play from day one.

Justin: I think Zach Bowman has a chance to be very special and he will start from day one. Frant Hardy will also start at WR because the coaches have been dying for a playmaker like him. Zac Taylor is obviously going to start at QB and his buddy Justin Tomerlin will start at TE because of Herian redshirting. I also believe Steve Octavien and Brock Pasteur will start at their positions. Wow, I didn't realize how many starters I think we will have be juco players.

Steve: Zac is the gimmee of the group as I think that no matter how good Harrison Beck is, realistically, he just can't take the field as a starter at least until conference play. And, even that would be amazing.

Bowman and Wilson are odds-on favorites, simply because right now, the cornerback position is in disarray with the lack of experience and depth.

I like both Dagunduro and Cryer to be able to start if need be, even though I think that Adams and Smith will hold down those spots for the year.

Steve Octavien will start somewhere. If it's outside, middle or will, he's going to start; of that you can be certain.

The hope is that Brock Pasteur and Jordan Picou start, because that's what they are here to do. I see Pasteur as having the best chance right now, simply because I think that between himself and Picou, he's the one that is physically ready to go. In a perfect world, I would see him take the left tackle position, letting Evwaraye move back to right. If he does, Picou moves inside, which is also another place desperately in need of help, particularly with Greg Austin simply not being a realistic candidate to go as I just don't think he can take an entire season with his knee.

With Herian more than likely gone this year, redshirting because of rehab, Tomerlin is another that shouldn't have any problems getting on the field. Does he start right away? Well, that depends on whether or not his noted athleticism is the real deal. It won't take long to find out and if he does pan out, you can simply slot him in. I do expect him to get considerable playing time regardless.

Frant Hardy is Mr. Speed and that is a big need right now, Fluellen NU's only real solid deep threat. I don't know that, that will translate to a starting spot as you might see him as more of a situational guy. The same can be said for Tyrell Spain as he'll be jockeying for a spot all fall and I think will just have to work within the group for awhile over the year.

Many have questioned the significance of Holt's commit because of speed. Is speed a WRs biggest asset or in Holt's case, does he just have much more of what you look in a WR in the other areas to pass up?

Bryan: Holt has it all, but blazing speed. In my non-expert opinion, you can get away with this. Don't believe me? Ask Mike Williams how he did it at USC and made it into the first round. Low 4.6 or high 4.5 is a great time for a 6-foot-4 and 200+ pound guy. Additionally, speed of all the other things can be improved more easily than say body control or catching the ball. Holt has "it". He has a physical body, physical attitude and mind, great hops, great hands, decent speed and, oh yeah, a 6-foot-4, 215 pound, NFL type body. I say, give me more guys like Menelik Holt.

Brandon: A lot of people not very familiar with the offense we run assume that we can get three to four guys who can run near-Olympic 40 yard dashes who can makes catches that would make Mike Williams' jaw drop. Fun as that might be, it ain't realistic. There are different types of receivers necessary to make this offense work. One such type is that which Holt enters into. Will he burn a DB deep? Probably not, but I'll tell you what he will do.

He will be able to beat a DB to a ball because of his height (fades into the end zone anyone?), he will be able to punch a DB in the mouth for the football and get physical (when's the last time you saw a Nebraska receiver do that?), he will be able to be a GREAT possession guy and score touchdowns for us. Menelik Holt is not Frantz Hardy. Don't get the two confused because they have different roles and purposes on this team. Besides, if you want a 6' 4" receiver who has a great 40 yard dash time that could end up as a Cornhusker, keep your eye on David Ausberry.

Justin: I always love speed and especially at the wide receiver position, however, it can be overrated as well. Often times its not about 40 yard dash speed, but how fast are those first 3-4 steps and what power can you drive off of. How quick you make your cuts is also extremely important. Besides all that, the coaches aren't looking for Holt to run fly routes all day. This offense is about ball control, and I wouldn't want anyone else controlling the ball that a 6'4 man child who has amazing body control to adjust to anything that comes his way. We did just fine on this one.

Steve: Speed means a lot, but I bet you that Callahan would have traded all the speed in the world for guys that could run routes perfectly and had the physicality to create separation in close proximity to the defenders.

Ok, maybe not all the speed, but Holt's upside is big.

He's already got the habit of being able to use his body, even when at the high school level, those that aren't burners can still be the fastest guys on the field. He might have been, but he's developed the ability to both work in space and use his body to shield the defender from the ball.

And it's not like he's a plodding dinosaur out there and in this style of offense, I think Holt fits like a glove. I really like his future at NU.

It's clear that Nebraska can get offensive recruits, but what will it take to be able to pull in defensive recruits just like that?

Bryan: It won't take much, but what it will take is a show of improvement from last year's defense to this year's defense. Last year's recruits on defense weren't bad and had we held out we might have pulled in Rey Maualuga possibly. We aren't miles away from it happening.

Nebraska is going to either have to show improvement on the field statistically and in the W-L column or a defense, that like the offense last year, has the right philosophy behind it, but not the right athletes. It will need to be attacking and not reacting. It will need to play hard, emotional football to starting winning over the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receiver equivalents on the defensive side of the football.

Brandon: Three things dictate how well a defensive staff can recruit: Playing time, scheme and success. The first two can be vital. Sometimes a player wants to get on the field as a freshman and that's his number one priority. Sometimes it's icing on the cake. Sometimes it matters less than Bob Stoops' opinion of Bill Callahan. Scheme is also somewhat important because if a player thinks that he's going to come to a school and just be out of position or won't be able to help his team or have fun, why would he go there?

However, nothing breeds success like success. Right now, the Blackshirts are a maligned unit. Nobody really fears them or respects them except Nebraska fans and that's not even a guarantee. It's kind of like the Wrecking Crew at Texas A&M. Great name, great tradition, but few results lately. If Coz & Co. (or whoever) can come in and restore the Blackshirt tradition on a yearly basis, if we can win games relying on our defense, if we can count on our defense to score points and show they have as much fun on the field as the WCO, then you're going to see people wanting to sign in droves.

Justin: I think it will take a year or maybe even two to show what kind of schemes we really want to use. Kids are going to want to see dominance from our defense before they really get intrigued by it. The offense is there, we have great offensive coaches already established and every kid dreams about playing in the NFL and our offense prepares them for that. The defense is much tougher to sell. I still think in a few years Coach Busch and Coach Blake will have built up enough relationships in their recruiting areas that we will be doing fine with defensive recruits as well.

Steve: Can you say need? On paper, before last year, Nebraska's defense should have been solid beyond reason. The offense, though, on paper, it was almost scary. With the switch to the new offense, everyone that knew anything about the differences between the system being replaced with the one coming in, there were jobs galore to be had.

On defense it's not that simple as it's not just a matter of showing them the need, but showing them that this staff can do something with them. While we here are willing to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt, a coach from Oklahoma will go to a defensive recruit, show how Fabian Washington went in the first round, how Josh went in the second round, Barrett as well and even more and the secondary still stunk up the place.

What do you think a coach is going to say that is trying to keep them from going to NU?

Yeah, that's right, so you can't just SAY what you are doing, you have to show them and I think that if Nebraska's defense comes out and is strong, especially in the secondary, the players will see that NU doesn't have a lot of depth, is eventually losing a lot of experience and that will be what it takes to get them in.

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