First offer has California prep seeing red

The Texas Tech game last season didn't end quite the way Husker fans had hoped. It was bizarre, to be honest. The good thing was, as dejected as fans were from the loss, they were just as happy from the gains. From that particular weekend, every single official visitor eventually committed to Nebraska, all but one sticking with that pledge. Well, there were a few unofficial visitors as well and one of them could follow those players' example and spend his collegiate days with the big red.

Not even heading into his junior year, the unofficial trip to Nebraska, for Brandon Thigpen, was an experience. It was his first big college game and he got to witness one of the most charged atmospheres of the year. The fact that Nebraska ended up losing in that game didn't seem to affect the official visitors that were there, all of them committing and all but one (Rulon Davis) scheduled to eventually play in Lincoln.

If he could have, Thigpen might have committed on the spot, but he was still going into his junior year and really was just learning about the entire recruiting process. And one of the first things you learn is that when a school offers you in writing, that means they are serious about wanting you to play for them.

Thigpen got that vote of confidence from Nebraska yesterday

"I was excited when I saw it," Thigpen said of the written offer from Nebraska, his first written offer of the recruiting season. "I kind of knew I would get it, because it sounded like they were really interested. But to see it, that's when you know."

Thigpen knows officially now, but it's obvious that even before his junior year began, the staff with Nebraska could see something not everyone else could see. It definitely could be his frame, Thigpen standing 6 foot, 4 inches tall and weighing around 200 pounds. But chances are, it was how he used that body to his advantage.

On offense, he was Vista Del Lago's best receiver, averaging over 16 yards a catch. On defense, he was the team leader as well, taking the team title for non-linemen in tackles for loss and sacks. In addition, Thigpen didn't lead his team in interceptions, He led the entire conference.

Yeah, this kid can basically do it all

Nebraska didn't offer him as an athlete, though, something a lot of schools do nowadays, when they don't know quite where a kid will play. They know where Thigpen is going to play and it actually fits what Brandon likes to do.

"They want me as a safety, which is good, because that's the side of the ball I like the best," Thigpen said. "I just like to hit."

Brandon recalls a game where he had one of those hits. You know, "those" hits, the kind that former NFL All-Pro safety Ronnie Lott liked to call "woo-hits". It's the kind of hit you won't forget and the guy you hit, well, he probably can't. "Some guy came over the middle on me on like a 10-yard "in" and I knew he knew I was coming," Thigpen said. "He tried to cover up, but it was too late."

"He was out for the rest of the season."

Now, Brandon is like anyone in that he didn't set out to hurt the guy. Well, let's put it a different way: He didn't set out to hurt the guy…..too much. Nobody wants to end anyone's career or even year, but when it's one game, well, it's one game.

"It's nothing personal, it's just business out there," Thigpen said of possibly taking someone out of a game. "You don't want to intentionally hurt someone, but it IS football. That kind of stuff just happens."

It does indeed and Thigpen is looking forward to more stuff happening this year, but probably more than he has possibly since his prep career began.

Thigpen played for Vista Del Lago last year, but this year he'll be with the Mustangs of Rancho Verde, and like football, transferring there was as much a business decision as anything. "It's just hard to get noticed there, because the coach doesn't like talking about the players or anything," Brandon said of Vista Del Lago. "At Rancho Verde, you can tell the coaches really care."

"Here, you know you will get at least some recognition for what you do, but also, you get in the weight room, at my old school, there's a lot of joking around. Not here. It's all business, because everyone wants to win."

It's a fresh attitude with a new team, something Thigpen hopes equates to finishing his prep career off in style.

As to where he'll go beyond that, he's already gotten an official offer to someplace he wouldn't mind going. In fact, Thigpen said that if it wasn't for the fact that he knows it's always best to be sure, he might have made that decision already. "In my head, it's a done deal," Brandon said of going to Nebraska. "But in my heart, I know that I have to look around, because I need to be sure."

"It's important that I check other places out, so I can see just how good Nebraska is. To me, it's great and I've liked them since I was a kid playing video games, where I was always the Huskers."

"Now, it's just being sure."

His dad, (John Florence) also wants Brandon to be sure, because that's what parents are supposed to do. But for many reasons, some of which his son probably doesn't appreciate as much as he does, he's seeing red, at least right now. "For me, from what I have seen from Nebraska, it's about 95% in their favor right now," he said. "But the thing that impressed me the most about them was their academics."

"They really support their students and if a young person needs help, you know they will get it at Nebraska. That's one of the biggest reasons I like them as much as I do."

Brandon hasn't thought too much about the off-season, other than how much he's looking forward to attending the camps with his team. When it comes to the recruiting, he hasn't thought about it all that much either. Well, at least until yesterday. Now things are different, but in every way that's good, because if nothing else happens, he's got perhaps the offer he hoped he would get.

Now it's just a matter of time for Thigpen to see for himself that Nebraska is what he's always thought it to be. He'll see if anyone else can stack up. "Like I said, in my head, it's a done deal, but it wouldn't be good to just do it without knowing what else is out there. You don't want to end up asking ‘what if'."

"I don't think I'll do that, but you never know, so that's why you check those places out. But I know Nebraska is going to be a hard team to beat."

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