Rounding out the officials, ready for finale'

With an estimated six official visits remaining for the Nebraska staff, the players brought in for those visits are going to have to be the cream of the crop for the coaches. You include recent de-commits, there's a premium on not getting just good players, but players you feel darn good about getting. That's what looms on the horizon as the calendar turns and some of those official visits are starting to take shape.

We estimate there to be around six or so official visits remaining for the Husker coaching staff, give or take one. That means there's no bringing in kids that may fit what you do, that you may get or that may fulfill a need you have right now.

It's all about musts

Nebraska must use these official visits to get some of the best players out there available or as they say in the NFL, get the best players left on the board.

Of course, those players have to also want to take a visit, but we have gotten confirmation on a few thus far and most seem to fit what Nebraska needs.

Defensive Tackle – Charles Deas – Long has this stout DT been on the watch list for Nebraska fans. Standing 6 foot, 4 inches tall and weighing 326 pounds, just his sheer physical size makes him a run stopper, but his quickness off the line makes him someone that can work the three-gap as well.

Deas missed his senior season due to grades. His mom sat Deas out and basically told him that he had football for a future, but school was what he needed and unless he got his grades up, he might not have either.

To that end, Deas did just that and tonight he said that he's on pace to be ready to go once he's ready to enroll in college. Now, it's just a question of where.

For months we had wondered about the official visit to Nebraska, because even just a month ago, Deas hadn't set up one. Deas has since made up for that, setting up four to take place in January and the first one he'll take is to the University of Nebraska.

Losing Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams hurts Nebraska for next year. The saving grace is that they have junior college transfers Ola Dagunduro and Barry Cryer ready to step up into the mix. And they have prep All-American Ndamukong Suh waiting in the wings for his shot at the depth chart. Add to him Compton Community College's Brandon "The Beast" Johnson, it's a good group for one year, but they need something a little more solid down the line.

Deas has been that, posting 68 tackles his junior year, including 10 sacks.

After visiting Nebraska, Deas will head to Auburn (13th), LSU (21st) and finish up with Georgia on the 27th.

Wide Receiver – Will Henry – Standing almost 6 foot, 6 inches tall, Henry boasts the size, but his over 30 inch vertical tells you he has the hops, too. Physically, this kid really has it all when you are looking for a wide out that can go out and get the ball, but with reported 4.47 speed, he's doing something with it after he brings it in.

Nebraska got on Henry late and still hasn't offered, but it looks like once he takes an official visit, that is likely to come. Making the official visit has been a little harder than anticipated, because Nebraska had some other receivers on the hook and told Henry that they wanted him to wait on his official visit, so that they could see if either of them committed.

We can assume one was Marerro, Louisiana's Chris Mitchell as he was visiting Nebraska the weekend Henry was supposed to visit initially. Considering Mitchell's comments on his visit about Lincoln being the coldest place he had ever been to, you can probably assume that Nebraska went from waiting on two receivers to waiting on just one.

The staff called Henry after that weekend, saying that his official would be set up for January the 13th, but the condition on him actually making the trip was if neither of the two still uncommitted wideouts decided to pull the trigger for NU.

If Mitchell was one of those two, I think we can assume that won't happen and as for the other, the list of candidates has plummeted.

Terrell Turner – has cooled on Nebraska, some expect he'll end up at Arizona
Terrell Reese – has committed to Arizona
David Ausberry – dropped Nebraska and is now looking at Georgia, Ohio State and USC
Anthony Jones – cooled on Nebraska awhile ago and the Vols appear to be the team to beat
Anthony Houston – An early visitor to Nebraska, the Husker-luster seems to have worn off and the smart money seems to be on USC
Andrey Baskin – has dropped Nebraska, looking to stay closer to home
Quinton Hancock – cooled on Nebraska and is another looking good for the Vols
Jeremy Maclin – committed to Missouri
Hayo Carpenter – was high on the Huskers early, but has since cooled some, but this could be the one Nebraska is waiting on and Hayo said in our interview with him Thursday evening that he was looking to schedule an official with the Big Red. They might want him to as he set a California record, posting some of the sickest numbers you can imagine for a receiver at any level, catching 119 passes for over 1,800 yards, scoring over 30 touchdowns.

Henry doesn't have an offer as of yet, but should get one once he arrives. Will that be good enough to get him to go to Nebraska? Impossible to say right now, but based on Henry himself along with the fact that Nebraska can't afford to waste any visits, the chances aren't bad at all.

Quarterback – Greg McElroy – It's salt in an open wound to even mention this position right now, but that's recruiting and the staff can't start feeling sorry for themselves, because someone pulled a last-minute switcheroo.

What they can do is go out and look at what quarterbacks are left, but unfortunately there aren't many.

One of those is a current Texas Tech commit, Greg McElroy. Working out of a wide open spread offense, McElroy guided his Southlake Carroll team to their second straight state title, throwing for almost 60 touchdowns, completing over 60% of his passes, tallying over 4,700 yards.

If there's a candidate to replace Freeman, he's certainly towards the top of the list.

Why a commit to Tech? Well, Greg is actually looking around, citing just the desire to explore his options to see if there are any that might suit him better than his current situation with the Red Raiders. He's still a commit, but any commit that is thinking of taking official visits is what we like to call a soft-verbal.

When we talked to him, he was playing phone tag with Nebraska receiver coach Ted Gilmore, with no success at that point. But considering Nebraska's obvious interest, this is one that we can assume will be invited up to take an official visit.

It's logical to think that they aren't just looking at one quarterback, but the list is slim as far as just who is out there to get. Well, unless they think they can change Mitch Mustain's mind about his final foursome.

If they don't take another quarterback as a visitor, that makes three, half of our estimate of what this group has left of their 56 allowed official visits each year.

Linebacker – Ronnie Paulo – If you looked at the current situation with the linebackers at Nebraska, you'd say ‘yeah, we need some of those.' But the situation exists because of injury and not graduation.

Steve Octavien comes back and he'll likely have two years. Corey McKeon is back with two years to play. Bo Ruud will be back with two years to play. Stewart Bradley will be back with one year to play, and then you have Phillip Dillard, who will be a true sophomore, Nick Covey who will be a redshirt freshman and incoming junior college transfer Steve Allen, who also should have two years to play.

Do they really need another linebacker?

Well, you can't get round the statistics as Paul tallied 156 tackles this year, 101 of them unassisted. The two interceptions and two pass break ups are nice as well. And his size (6-2, 223) isn't bad either and his speed (4.65), while not record breaking, isn't anything that should draw any sneers.

Again, though, do you need another linebacker?

One might say that of the positions they have, this is one that definitely isn't on life support, badly in need of some attention, so we'll watch this one closely to see just how it pans out.

Now, who else?

If you have three visits or possibly two, you need three more guys to come in and considering the situation for the staff, they have to fit a very specific criteria:

They need to be needed – You can't afford to take a guy that you don't need. The secondary has one true safety, with Anthony West and Corey Young classified as athletes that could be safeties. Also, there's just one cornerback in this class and the secondary wasn't exactly stellar this year. They had a lot of help with the best sackers in the country.

Who's out there that hasn't visited yet?

James Smith – A DB out of California, he's talked about possibly setting up an official to Nebraska. He's only waiting for them to set it up with him. It's between Colorado State and Nebraska as to who gets the last one of five allowed and the first one will be the lucky winner. Smith has a solid frame, standing 6 foot, 2 inches tall, weighing around 190 pounds, and he can play DB, Safety or even offense.

Geoff Tisdale – A junior college cornerback, Tisdale has one offer the last time we checked and it was from the Huskers. He's got the size at 6 foot, 1 inches tall and around 180 pounds, but if his reported 4.38/40 is legit, he's got more speed than any corner Nebraska currently has. He's scheduled to enroll in the fall.

Either can play DB or Safety, so there's a couple of an options for the Huskers.

You can never have enough offensive lineman, but are there any still out there that haven't visited NU, that could be even remotely interested?

At the top of that list you would have to throw Ramone Johnson, a biggun out of Chicago Illinois, and someone that Nebraska has been after since the recruiting season began. At 6 foot, 4 inches tall, weighing 315 pounds, he's not your tackle prospect, but one might argue that Nebraska needs just as much help in the middle. He's already got January visits scheduled for Illinois and Tennessee, so there's space for the big red, and this is one that I'd say would fill a need for NU.

The only catch is, he's not a gimmee, so do you take the chance or try and find someone that might not be as good, but you still like and think you have a much better shot?

That's the question and you can ask that about every single player that comes in, no matter who it is. Are they good enough? Are they interested enough? Are they someone that you can see on the field right away?

The best part is (insert sarcastic voice here), you don't know anything about any of them until you can actually get them on the visit.

The staff believes in early visits. They like to take advantage of the game day atmosphere, the nice weather and the ability to get a lot of kids in at once. The bad side of that is the situation they are in, looking at some recent losses and now having to make up for those with a very limited amount of opportunities to host the rest of the prep level's best.

You can make up your own mind as to what you think is best, but can you think of what the staff is thinking right now? The kid has to be as close to a sure thing as possible, an athlete that isn't a reach due to the lateness of the recruiting season and they have to be someone that can suit what they need in regard to gaps that exist on the field or on the bench.

And you have around six visits to work with.

It's not enviable and more than a roll of the dice, but that's the drama behind recruiting. Only this time around, it's a little different. Now it's not what can Nebraska get from an entire country of elite prospects, but who out of those outstanding players left, do they have a real shot at getting at all?

It's the countdown to signing day and for recruitniks that have followed for years, there are as many pepto moments as there are those that prompt you to sit back with a big smile on your face. Actually, there's probably more of the former than the latter, recent experience being a fine illustration of that.

So, now all you have to do is wait.

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