Bryan Munson: It's hard not to be happy when talking about this class. People will be quick to note the late losses that the Nebraska recruiting class had, but overall Nebraska did a great job of addressing need and upgrading the athleticism of the team with this class. Overall, top to bottom, I think that this class has more quality on average than the 2005 class did. There is no headliner like a Marlon Lucky or a Maurice Purify, but there are stars at each position and usually multiples.
Replacing players like Adam Carriker
Steve Ryan: I have been beating to death the theme: "Substance over Style." I only do that, because two years ago Nebraska got a start-studded class with six U.S. Army All-Americans. That's great, but what's even better is seeing positions vacated, but seeing those positions filled immediately. This staff did that. They lost four defensive linemen and got five. They had major issues in the secondary and up to six players from this class could easily see time at either safety or corner. With the loss of Brandon Jackson and just the health issues at running back, getting some extra help couldn't hurt. They got four players who could offer quality reps, and maybe even in their first year. That was the theme of this class and I think they hit it over and over again. You have to love that this team needed certain positions and Nebraska went out and got them.
Gem of the Class:
Bryan: (tie) Larry Asante and Niles Paul. It's too tough, in my mind, to choose between these two. I think that both will play this fall because of what they bring to the field, physically. Asante addresses the largest, single need on the field and Paul is a possession receiver, with better than possession receiver speed, with the potential to play safety or linebacker if he continues to grow.
Steve: I said it once before, but I will say it again: I think Marcel Jones is going to be a stud. Not to take away anything from players I think will be serious impact guys like Niles Paul, Larry Asante and Prince Amukamara, but when I look at Jones not in one year, but a couple down the road, I think he's going to be scary good. He's got all the athleticism you want, plus he has an ideal background for linemen in that he was a quality basketball player in AAU ball. That's a dream for offensive line coaches at the next level, because the intangibles like great feet and hands. But he's got a frame that you can't beat. The guy weighs over 300 pounds, but looks like a tight end. HIs upside is huge and I can't wait to see how he develops down the road.
Underrated player of the class:
Bryan: Prince Amukamura is definitely a guy that flew under the radar, but broke out because of a huge senior year. Nebraska has Busch, a down year for Arizona State and the lack of recruiting attention that most of the in-state kids from Arizona received to thank when it came to their haul of kids from Arizona. Amukamura looks like he will start out on the defensive side of the ball, but look for him to possibly get involved on the offensive side and have an impact in special teams.
Steve: I'm not much for over-hyping guys, but I guess when you look at the complete lack of hype, quarterback Patrick Witt is in position to do some things with the time he has, already enrolled at the University. First, he's got the size, a good arm and not great, but pretty good mobility. He's also got a pretty decent arm. That means you have essentially the foundation, plus he's worked out of both the spread system out of the gun and under center. That means he's got the ability to work within this offense and has the ability one automatically gets from the spread system in being able to evaluate very quickly what his options are during the course of a play. Probably what gives me the most optimism about him, though, is that the kid is awfully sharp, and as we have come to learn with this offense, comprehension is half the battle. So, if he can physically make the throws, which I believe he can, and his mental acuity allows him to grasp this system very quickly, he may not supplant anyone right now, but I like his potential down the road.
Underappreciated player of the class:
Bryan: Adi Kunalic is a guy that won't be mentioned first by anyone when
it comes to this class, but he will have as big of impact and maybe the
largest of any newcomer this fall. Kunalic has a big leg that will aid in
Nebraska getting more touchbacks on kick offs and should also put Nebraska into
field goal range from at least 40-in. There was a definite lack of confidence in
the kicking area and Kunalic can change all of that.
Steve: I have to go with my compadre on this one, because if the Cotton Bowl taught you anything, it's important to have someone on special teams you have the confidence in to make crucial kicks. Jordan Congdon was certainly that guy against Kansas State two years ago, and he kicked that game winner in an absolute gale. But I won't speculate as to why, but with Congdon gone, they need to find someone that has the leg to put it consistently in the end zone on kickoffs and give the coaches a comfort level that in a situation like Auburn, you actually have choices. I'm going to beat a dead horse here, though, that it doesn't matter who they get in, if they don't have an actual salaried coach with a legit background in teaching kickers, who you get won't matter in the end.
Will play right away:
Bryan: Without a doubt, Larry Asante will play right away. The safety position has lacked a real, physical player in the secondary for some time. Asante's game is all about playing physical. As a sophomore, he was moved up to play outside linebacker and did a great job doing it. That should speak a lot towards his physical style of the game.
Steve: Asante, for me, is a shoo-in, as I think Shukree Barfield is as well, because he's already enrolled at the University. I would also give the same credit to Armando Murillo, who I think has to play or his minute amount of eligibility makes him someone they shouldn't have even recruited if he doesn't at least get reps his first year. I also look at Niles Paul as a guy I expect to play, because he could give Nebraska that slot guy they still haven't found while Bill Callahan has been at Nebraska. Because of this staff's love of playing kids on special teams, I could see Roy Helu, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Mendoza, Austin Stafford, Latravis Washington and Eric Hagg, all get some time their first year. But as to playing their respective positions, I think Mendoza's sheer scat-back ability gives him potential, and with the topsy-turvy world of healthy linebackers, dont' rule out Austin Stafford to get at least some reps..........just in case.
Were it not for the knee injury, I would have said Zac Lee, but he'll have some catching up to do physically over the summer. I think mentally he'll be able to get in there, but let's see how he progresses.
Needs some time, but then look out:
Bryan: There might not be a player with bigger upside then Marcel Jones when it comes to this class. I spoke to people that have seen Marcel Jones and they say that he is another Jonathon Ogden waiting to happen. If that is the case, then how can you not vote him in here? He's 6-foot-7+ and 320 pounds. He's a monster that has his best days of playing football all ahead of him.
Steve: Marcel Jones tops my list as you would expect, but I would put Jaivorio Burkes in there as well. Like Jones, he just needs time in the system. He could actually see time before Jones, because physically, he is ahead of Jones right now. After seeing film on him, I have to admit that I am sold on Roy Helu. I like him as a playmaker on offense, not because he's some super athletic guy (He's pretty darn good though), but he runs tough, has good enough moves in the open field to be dangerous and obviously sees the field very well. I figure him to actually go to the defensive side, but if they give him a crack on offense, I think he could be a nice surprise for some.
Which position failed to get addressed:
Bryan: While Nebraska did receive a commitment from Ryan Hill at the tight end position, the tight end position still failed to get addressed properly. A player that could have had an immediate impact was needed at this position. Nebraska had guys like Coby Fleener and Jacob Amie targeted, but failed to land either prospect. I anticipate Nebraska will address this position by a junior college transfer next year.
Steve: You'd have to wonder with the need of Michael McNeil at tight end, just how short on tight ens Nebraska is. Or, I guess I should say, the type of tight ends they want. It would seem that the ideal tight end for them is Matt Herian as he was his freshman and sophomore year. If that's the case, they are a long ways from being really deep at that position, as they have some quality pass catchers, but they can't stretch the field like Herian did or like McNeil is expected to. Hill offers them some of that, but I don't think he's quite as athletic or fast as McNeil. He could develop into that, but if Nebraska is looking for that gamebreaker tight end all the way through the three-deep, they still have a ways to go.
Recruiting coach of the year:
Bryan: It's hard to argue if anyone said Bill Busch or Shawn Watson here, but I am going to say Shawn Watson wins this honor. Coach Watson had such a profound effect this year as a coordinator, ramping up the efforts in Texas and getting key players from the Jayhawk Conference. Watson was at least involved with the direct recruitment of eight commitments. Three were from Kansas Junior Colleges and the other five came from Texas.
Steve: When you look at what Bill Busch did in Arizona, your jaw has to drop a bit. I know that ASU had some serious turnover with Koetter being ousted, but he was like Missouri's Gary Pinkel in that he didn't appreciate enough the value of the kids he had in his state. Dennis Erickson, the new head coach at ASU will probably not make that same mistake, but their lapse was Busch's opportunity and boy, did he take advantage of it. To go into that state and just level the local schools for some of their best talent, that speaks for itself. It was one hell of a job in recruiting.