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.

Who are the top 5 most likely recruits to commit to Nebraska at the moment and also who is a recruit who you feel might be more likely to head to Nebraska than most are lead to believe?


My top 5 most likely to commit are:

Mike Smith
Mike McNeil
Ricky Thenarse
Ronnie Paulo
Terrell Turner

My other top 5 that are reaches, but I feel good about:

Butch Lewis – Family would like to see him at Nebraska.

A.J. Wallace – Not really a reach, but any top, top-rated prospect is never a given.

Fenuki Tupou – Playing time will sell itself here.

Jonas Mouton – See reason for Fenuki.

Andre Jones – Wants to be part of building something and not maintaining.


1.Andre Jones

2.Ronnie Paulo

3.Ricky Thenarse

4.Mike Smith

5.Anthony Houston

I think Nebraska lands Butch Lewis even though many have said it is an uphill battle. Seth Jensen told me during camp that he knows Butch fairly well and so there is an obvious line of communication. Butch's high school coach even wanted Seth to transfer to the private school and offered a full ride which is legal I guess. I also know that Butch absolutely loves Coach Blake and this kid has kind of been his project to get to Nebraska. I could be wrong, but I think Nebraska fans will be very happy when Lewis signs for the Cornhuskers.


1. Andre Jones
2. Ricky Thenarse
3. Butch Lewis
4. Anthony Houston
5. Ronnie Paulo

One prospect that I feel Nebraska has a very legitimate shot at and will eventually snag (so, yeah, this is my Dan Doering pick of the year), is Jonas Mouton. Mouton has always been complimentary of Nebraska beyond the standard "Yeah, the coaches are great, the stadium's great, etc. etc." He has gone in depth with his enjoyment of the program and I feel that while he may not be an immediate commitment, I think that Nebraska has a very good chance of seeing his letter of intent come across the fax lines come February.


1. Ricky Thenarse
2. Scott Krebeihl
3. Mike McNeil
4. Jonas Mouton
5. David Ausberry

I think between what Ausberry will see on his visit and his mother, Nebraska coaches could once again steal one from the west coast. As for a player I think Nebraska can get that some might not feel all that great about right now, Charles Deas would be my first guess. I know there seems to be a strong leaning towards staying close, but if Nebraska gets Charles to visit, I don't count out Blake for anyone.

Nebraska was able to convince a top passing quarterback (Beck), top receiving wide receivers (Hardy and Brooks) and a multi-dimensional running back (Lucky) to come to Nebraska, but no top pass defending offensive tackles. Nebraska has received one commitment from an in-state player at OT this year, but why are kids less likely to believe at this position and what are the long term affects of not getting a top OT last year?

Bryan: Tackles are not easily persuaded, usually. They either have a long-time favorite, or the go through the process to the fullest extent possible. Nebraska is fortunate this year to have a kid like Jones in-state. As I have said before about tackles, they are cerebral and usually some of the smartest players on the field. They think about things logically and reason.

When it comes to an offensive lineman picking a school it is either about total love/passion for that school or it presents the best opportunity for a player either to get ready for the NFL or playing time. There have been a lot of tackles offered this year and a lot of tackles that have already moved on.

I still think that Nebraska will get a good offensive tackle class this year as this team this year will have improvement in the quarterback, running back depth and at the wide receiver position. People will notice the deficiencies at tackle and should know that they could play early.

Not getting a tackle last year other than Pasteur has been devastating. I can't help but think how big it might have been to get Marcus Gordon in at semester who could rotate in. Or how about a Chris Scott last year. It has set this team back as a whole and keeps the requirement for one OT this year to enroll in January so they can be ready for next fall.

Justin: That is a heck of a question. I ask myself this question almost every time I hear of a great tackle prospect taking us out of consideration. It simply blows my mind. I have come to a few conclusions though. I don't think Coach Callahan nor Coach Wagner have received enough significant praise for their abilities to coach offensive lineman.

I feel it will take a couple years and probably a solid tackle to make it in the NFL before this relationship with high school coaches can truly be formed. It also seems like any good tackle from the midwest ends up at Iowa or Oklahoma and that the rest are from the deep south where Nebraska has a difficult time legally getting kids to leave Mama's cooking. I think the offensive line is by far the team's weakest position at the current moment and I am concerned that the last class didn't have a solid tackle who had 4 years of eligibility left.

I would be happy with three in this class but would be even more excited if Nebraska could reel in 4 solid offensive tackle prospects. Things aren't looking good at the moment for that happening though, so for now Nebraska fans hope Lydon Murtha stays healthy and becomes the player he can be.

Brandon: A lot of offensive tackles seem to have a common goal anymore and that goal is getting to the NFL. Now, Nebraska has the NFL pedigree with Callahan, Blake, etc., however, they do not have the results, at least as of late and that's what the recruits are all about: What have you done for me lately?

If Nebraska can take what they can from last year and this year's recruiting crop and turn them into mean, lean, NFL-money making machines, I think we'll see an influx of greater talent over the long haul. Being an All-American offensive tackle in college doesn't guarantee you instant success in the pros (Robert Gallery, anyone?), but it does give you a legit shot at making a lot of money very quickly and with the lifespan of the average NFL player at any position, that's a key element.

Steve: When it comes to recruiting great offensive linemen, it seems anymore you need a catch and I think outside of possibly the quarterback position, you have to prove that you do what they want to do, because for whatever reason, some linemen are just more stubborn than most positions when it comes to heading to offenses that do something a little differently than what they are used to.

There's also a lot more emphasis on coaching for this position than any other in my opinion and if a player is going to make it to the level beyond college, they are more than likely going to have to have a solid coach to help get them there.

Nebraska had an offensive line that overachieved last year, but they still weren't all that good and I think their performance will draw some of the better tackles to take a look, but if you want to seal the deal, put one or two into the NFL draft in the top three rounds.

Combine that with the fact that this is a system that is currently run by many teams in the NFL, I think you will eventually have a package that's going to be hard to pass up.

If you want a perfect example of linemen being picky about coaches, look at Oklahoma. Here's one of the current elite teams and their offensive line recruiting, especially at tackle, has fallen by the wayside. And I think a big reason for that is that Oklahoma is simply not known nowadays for good O-line coaching. They rely on talent, not technique and I think it's hurt them to the point you see today.

`What will recruits be watching the most when it comes to the season for the Huskers? Do they care about the record or will they concentrate more on what they are doing offensively and defensively?

Bryan: This year the focus will have to be split. They will need to see a continued commitment to what the team is trying to accomplish on the field with the personnel that they currently have, plus Nebraska is going to need to show improvement in their record and effort.

No doubt last year you could sell, "We can't do this because we have the wrong personnel." That will still work to some extent this year, but you got a great class last year and there are new faces everywhere. This team will need to stay competitive in all games to prove we are getting closer to being able to play with the big dogs.

Justin: I have a strong feeling that it won't be what recruits will watch, but what they have watched. I am hoping every recruit in the nation watches the Tommy Lee Show to see that our campus actually sports no corn fields and that we have at least one amazing looking girl in Natalie Riedmann. No honestly though, I think recruits will be watching a mixture of both things Steve hits on.

Only this year I feel the percentages will be swayed more to the side of wins. Players who are highly recruited are normally extremely competitive and they want to win games. Last season Nebraska got a break for their difficult season and sold the principles of the offense and defense a lot to recruits. I don't worry too much though about what the recruits will watch because I have the upmost confidence in this staff to SHOW the players what they feel our the best things about Nebraska. Nebraska garnered the commit of a future stud, Zack Bowman, after a loss. Enough said in my book.

Brandon: **I think that the product will, once again, be more important than the win-loss record. While, personally, I feel that the record will improve and Nebraska will find itself in another bowl game, possibly one with a less obscure sponsor, I think that what Nebraska is trying to do and wants to do will come across as the dominant factor. One of the major selling points that Nebraska had last year and that they can take advantage of again this year is that we're still in a rebuilding process both literally and figuratively.

These kids see that and say to themselves "Hey, I could go to USC, Oklahoma, and be a star, sure, but here, I could not only be that but I could be one of the guys who turns the program around. I could be a legend in Nebraska." Now, naturally, this won't be the case for everyone but a lot of the recruits I've spoken with talked about the idea with a lot of admiration and it's at least something I feel they will take a long, hard look at before they pass, if they do.

Steve: Ok, first you have to figure out what the message is these coaches have been sending recruits to try and explain away a 5-6 season last year. Then you come up with part of what they are going to be looking at this year.

Next, you have to figure out what the OTHER coaches are saying about Nebraska and that's everything else they will be watching this year.

The national profile of Nebraska is that it's in a rebuilding mode, it's void of talent and there's no legitimate proof yet that this solid staff of recruiters are as adept at coaching their respective positions.

From Nebraska's angle, they have to show that the offense they want to run, CAN BE run at this level and with the effectiveness that it boasts.

From the angle opponents will take in trying to knock down the image of the Huskers, Nebraska will have to not just win more games, but in the games they lose, be in it pretty much to the end.

What recruiters will say against Nebraska as well will be that the coaches don't get along with the players, a reputation that was pervasive last year. And while we know or think we know differently this year, recruits won't, so opponents can sell it until someone can prove otherwise.

What Nebraska does as far as P.R., both from players and coaches is also paramount.

Even in a loss, this team needs to be unified on and off the field or it's going to be a easy weakness teams recruiting against them can exploit.

With the vast selection of quality defensive backs/safeties that Nebraska is going after this year, who do you feel could be a cornerstone of that particular position this class that would bring in others ala Marlon and the running backs last year?

Bryan: The top cornerback and safety products this year for Nebraska are Andre Jones, Ashley Palmer, Shareece Wright, Devin Ross, Jai Eugene, Greg Davis, DeLaShaun Dean and Rico Thomas. Now, I will tell you that Dean is considered one of Nebraska's top prospects on their board…overall. So are a couple of others that are on this list, but Dean could play 2 or 3 positions at Nebraska like Leon could this year.

All of these guys show that Nebraska is recruiting the top talent at these positions and all of these guys are still considering Nebraska or will officially visit Nebraska. I feel good about some of them. At least two of them to my knowledge will have grade issues potentially (Davis and Thomas).

Justin: I think I am going to take the bait and go ahead and announce the obvious answer. It doesn't take an expert to say A.J. Wallace has the chance to be a stud in the defensive backfield for whatever school he chooses. If Nebraska could secure the commitment of Wallace, it would also boost confidence in the staff and allow them to focus in even harder on a few select stud prospects. Wallace also would send the signal that it's ok to be from either coast and come to Nebraska. Plus, other players want to be with great players for four years and I think no matter what recruiting service you choose to use, A.J. Wallace is ranked very highly.

Brandon: When you bring in an athlete with the quality of a Marlon Lucky to a position that badly needed talent and depth, which, if you look at the 2004 Nebraska football squad, could pretty much be any position, I think it encourages other young men to step up to the challenge for two main reasons.

1.) It shows that Nebraska is serious about bring in top notch talent so it lends to the idea that if they think Marlon Lucky, one of the top running back prospects in the country is someone who they want for their team, then I must be pretty good because they want me badly too.

2.) It lends to the idea that Nebraska wants competition and that they feel that they need to get the best athlete on the field. If you bring in, let's say, three four star defensive back/safety prospects and a five-star or two, you're going to have incredible competition come spring and or fall, of course, depending on their scholastic situation.

In the end, I think that gaining quality commitments will help overall as it will encourage those willing to compete and deter those not willing to make the necessary sacrifices that Nebraska is going to ask of them.

Steve: To me, A.J. Wallace is the cornerstone and not just because he should be one of the best at his position this year, but because this is a kid that Nebraska was in on first and Nebraska fans have gotten to know extremely well.

He's a symbol of sorts, Nebraska very adamant in getting in on some of the biggest names as early as possible, but that, of course, is only possible through diligent film review and a quality pipeline of information that lets them know of juniors, sophomores and even freshmen to be that are potentially amongst the elite.

Nebraska did that with Wallace and it turns out that he's one of the most coveted athletes around. Now, if Nebraska can close the deal, I think they will have proven yet again that they not only can sell a kid on a program, but begin the recruiting process with one, stick through it, even if it goes to January and still come out on top.

In my estimation, that is the truest test of recruiting mettle and ability. If you can get their attention and keep it in an age, where that is seemingly impossible, you have proven yourself in a variety of areas of recruiting.

I think that's why Wallace is the Marlon Lucky of the class, but in some ways I think he's more important, because Wallace's recruiting process started with the Huskers, so I think it's that much more important that it ends with them.

That will mean Nebraska can beat anyone else in a sprint, but also in a race of attrition.

Big Red Report Top Stories