"Electric" wideout already with Husker offer

The call for wide receivers fitting the still relatively new "West Coast" at Nebraska went out. Evaluations took place, offers went out and Nebraska has for two years gone after recruit after recruit, which fit what this offense does best. That call never ceases as they are going after more for the class of 2007. And Wayne Bonner is one of the first that makes that official offer list.

If you want the recipe for Nebraska's latest recruiting efforts when it comes to wide receivers, it would seem that you start at someone 6 foot, 4 inches tall and go from there.

Menelik Holt / 6-4, Maurice Purify / 6-4, Tyrell Spain / 6-4, Will Henry / 6-6

It's about more than size, of course, but in this day and age of receivers, with the defensive backs and safeties getting bigger and the linebackers getting faster, you start with good height, look at their ability to run routes and especially in an offense like this, see what they can do after the catch.

Enter Wayne Bonner, a 6 foot, 4 inch wide receiver out of Baldwin high school in Milledgeville, Georgia. And just by his physical measurements from height, to speed (he ran a low 4.5/40 at the All-American Combine) to vertical (34 inches), on paper, he's the kind of guy you can not only look at down the road, but someone that could come in right away and solidify depth at the position.

One of Bonner's main traits is something even more suitable to the west coast offense, and that is the ability to take a short route and turn it into a big gain. "That's what I probably like to do the most," Bonner said of making a big play out of a reception close to the line of scrimmage. "I try to get the cornerback in close and once I have the ball, I'll cut back on him or give him a move and head down the field."

"They look at my size, too, and think they can jam me, but I know how to run good routes and use my hands at the line of scrimmage."

At under 180 pounds, Bonner's frame is slight, thus defenses trying their best to jam him at the line. Wayne's technique has been the equalizer there, equating to almost a 20-yard per catch average, Bonner catching 41 balls on the year for 800 yards, scoring 13 times.

For all this athleticism, though, Bonner takes more pride in one thing that most young and eager wide receivers don't even think about. Heck, there are some that can make it through an entire college career without ever really getting down. Not Bonner. There's one aspect of his game that he's particularly proud of and says it's one of the biggest keys to them making it back to the Georgia Dome again, for another shot at the state title.

"I'm really proud of how I block," Wayne said. "Being able to open up holes or clear guys out for my running back or quarterback – that's important. If you want the passing game to work, the running game has to work, too, so as a receiver, you need to be able to do it all."

That versatility has Bonner already sporting some nice offers, Wayne reporting that Nebraska, Mississippi State, Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame have all offered at this point. And so early in the process, Wayne doesn't really have a preference outside of the fact that ideally, he wouldn't mind staying in his particular climate. "I would just as soon not play in the cold, but that's only because I am not really used to it," Wayne said. "I'm sure that if I get to experience it, it's like anything else. It's just something you have to get used to."

Wayne said that it would be the college, the coaches and the fans that would have more to do with where he went than what the climate was like during December. He also said that like any recruit, he's just looking for the most comfortable fit for him. He's in no hurry to make a decision, though, because he's enjoyed the recruiting process thus far and is looking to enjoy it for all that it's worth of the 2006 season. "I want to really take my team and look at all these schools to see how they do, get to know the coaches there and just get to see for myself what these programs are all about."

"You don't really even think about this stuff until they start sending you letters and then offering you. So, I think I am going to have a lot of looking around to do."

Aside from all the usual stuff Wayne is looking at, there's one thing that probably trumps them all when it comes to deciding just where he'd like to go. It's mostly to do with the fact that if it's not in Georgia, he wants to know that just because he's not at home, it won't feel like he's that far away. "The coaches, the teammates – I'd like to go where they all just feel like they are a big family," Wayne said. "Togetherness is real important to me, because you want to feel like you are part of something, but that people care about each other while you are there. I know I'm going to get homesick, so having people there that have your back and will support you, is what I am looking for. Four years is a long time to be away from home."

As Nebraska continues to rebuild their offense, four years is what they would love to get out of the wideouts they get from now on. They have gone the junior college route plenty with ball-catchers like Shamus McKoy, Frantz Hardy and for this class; Maurice Purify and Tyrell Spain. It probably won't stop there, but the more prep-kids the Huskers can get into the mix, the better the long term projection is for a unity that often relies on its continuity.

Bonner says that's one thing he likes about any team, because everyone needs to be on the same page. And as his team tries once more for a state title, he knows that regardless of talent, that's one of the biggest keys to the year. "If you have a lot of talent, but nobody is together, you aren't going to do much," Wayne said. "Everyone has to be on the same page, going for the same thing."

"We want to get back to the dome this year and we know that we are only doing it as a team. That's what I am looking for in the future."

Bonner is described by some recruiting analysts on scout as an electric playmaker, whose name is on the rise in the southeast. That suits Bonner just fine. It won't make him pull the trigger any faster, but he's not going to argue with having that many more schools to pick from when he does. "I'm enjoying right now," Bonner said of the recruiting process. "You'd like to have offers from everyone, so you can choose wherever you want to go. I don't know that I will get that, but it's looking ok right now."

"So, I am looking forward to the future."

Notes: Nebraska's offense and the type of player they go after is obviously appealing to Bonner. He sees that what Nebraska is looking for and wants out of their wideouts, is exactly the kind of game he professes to have.

Is that enough to get him out of the south? The odds are probably not with the big red right now, but there's a long time to go before the next signing day and we'll keep following this to see just how the Huskers shake out.

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