Hard work pays off

Since the Colorado game the word has been that the coaching staff have been busy. They have been out on the road going to recruit's houses, watching playoff games and bowl games. While all of the coaching staff have been tremendously busy, Coach Dennis Wagner has been all over and his work and the work of the staff has seemed to pay huge dividends.

All season long the questions have been swirling around who Nebraska was actually going to get to come in and play tackle. The position is about as wide open as any other position, in terms of competition, for next spring and fall. Why wouldn't a recruit want to come in and be part of a dynamic offense and learn the techniques that the NFL wants you to have?

Well, those rhetorical questions have finally been answered in the form of three very good picks ups for Coach Dennis Wagner and Nebraska. Many weren't sure how most of this would come together and they also did not see the speed, but just three weeks removed from the end of the season and it seems that the offensive line spots are filled.

First, you have to be fair and mention the two commits that have been on Nebraska's list since this summer. Both D.J. Jones and Ricky Henry have chose to stay home and be part of the Big Red next year. D.J. has the size and athleticism that this staff seemed to be looking for.

Getting past the big bodies it was a need to upgrade the athleticism of the offensive lineman. Jones does that coming in at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, but with a 5.1 second 40-yard dash time as well. Jones has the potential to be a key cog of lines to come for Nebraska at the tackle position.

Ricky Henry has been compared to one of the best centers to ever play the game, Dave Remington. It may be hard for Ricky to live up to expectations like that, but it won't be because he doesn't try. The early word on Ricky may be that he will not become academically qualified and could get placed in a junior college, but this will definitely be one that Nebraska will go find in two or three years.

After D.J. and Ricky pulled the commitment trigger there was a flurry of activity with offers to some of the nation's top offensive lineman. One of those top high school offensive lineman was Cruz Barrett. Cruz, to some extent, gets over-shadowed coming from a state that year in and year out produces some of the top high school talent, but he was always a top target for Nebraska.

Barrett really put his recruiting on hold and waited for his season to wrap up before taking an official visit. When he took that first official visit it was to a school which his coach said will change everything and apparently it did. Barrett, just three weeks after taking his first and only official visit, committed to Nebraska.

For Husker fans, the weeks and months of wondering what was going to happen with the offensive line spots were coming to a close, a rapid close. When Cruz pulled the commitment trigger though, some interesting things began to happen. Fans saw the official visit date slip with Aaron Mason, saw the interest in Shannon Boatman fade and also saw high school targets like Scott Krehbiel, Russell Okung, and Perry Dorrestein either take too long with their own personal process or go elsewhere.

It was the objective though to get immediate help. Being physically ready plus being able to come in and get to learn the techniques that Nebraska wants to use on their offensive line. The immediate help though is the key and that is why it says so much about Nebraska's two newest recruits. The immediate help means that the player would either be able to come in and challenge for the position or start outright.

Enter Victory Haines and Carl Nicks.

Haines was the first to pull the commitment trigger to Nebraska on Saturday and really had made the weekend a success already. Not only had Nebraska gone out and got a player that could come in and compete for the starting duties at tackle, but they also found a mid-term transfer.

What is over-shadowed about Haines is that he has plug and play ability as well great intelligence. When I say plug and play it means that he has played various positions along the offensive line when he has been asked to. He started as a right guard as a freshman and then transitioned out to tackle as a sophomore. He also has the intelligence and desire to learn the techniques that Nebraska is using.

Nicks on the other hand will be the one that Nebraska will have to wait for until June to make it Lincoln, but when he does they will actually get to see how big of a find he was. The early word on Nicks is that he was the only junior college offensive tackle that would have been waited for to go home and commit and the only one that Nebraska was willing to wait until the summer to receive. Nicks has a great opportunity to come in and show what many have said why his best days of playing football are in front of him.

The road to this year's class hasn't been the same as last year's. There isn't the headlining running backs like Nebraska received commitments from last year. Some of the talent, in terms of rating and ranking, don't compare to their counterparts in last year's class either. But what you do see when you look up and down the list of the commitments are need players at need positions.

Nebraska's need at Nebraska should be filled now. With Jones, Henry, Barrett, Haines and Nicks all on board plus the scholarships of Jacob Hickman and Matt Slauson all counting against this year's class, it's easy to see that the offensive line position was a huge need position this year. A need position that is now full.


Other notes from this weekend include that Nebraska may not only be hosting two of the top tackles for next year's team, but could be hosting the two potential starting safeties in Ashlee Palmer and Danzell Issac. Also on campus is commit Anthony West who, in my opinion, could be one of the biggest sleepers of this class. Nebraska is also looking to lure one of the top running backs on the East coast and in the nation to taking a closer look at Nebraska in Evan Royster. The early word on these recruiting targets is that it has been a very good weekend for official visitors in Lincoln. Big Red Report will be bringing you their words, as well as the words of the newest Huskers, as soon as they can.

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