Where's the instant replay?

Nebraska just got two commits. No, wait. Nebraska just lost two commits. No, wait. Nebraska didn't get any commits at all? What? Are you kidding me? Sometimes, there are mistakes made and in this case, such was certainly made as two JUCO commits that were actually weren't, but might be only nobody really knows. So, we just wait to hear it from their own words? Well, yeah. So, we did just that.

Wali Muhammad and Michael Smith. Both very good junior college prospects, both equally adept at their positions and both not yet members of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That's right. They're not.

In some recent reports floating around on the internet, they were reported to be just the opposite, in that they had committed to NU.

Problem is, nobody actually talked to the players.

We talked to Wali Muhammad. "No, I didn't commit." Wali stated regarding the alleged pledge made at this official visit in Lincoln. Wali did add a little something extra to that though to keep Husker fans enthused. "I'm almost ready though." Wali said. " I'm pretty sure I want to go to Nebraska, but there's just a couple of things circulating right now."

I asked Wali to expand on that if he could, to which he replied. "I'm just waiting on a couple of things........well, why don't you talk to my coach." That would be referring to his former coach, Mike Carter, who Wali referred me to, because the situation wasn't one he was comfortable talking about. Heck, I can respect that, so let's move onto the coach.

By the way, you see above within those quotation marks the words, No, I didn't commit? That's what you look for in determining whether they are or aren't a commit for certain. From that player.

Ok, moving on.

Coach Carter has been sort of a go-between for Wali as all the recruiting talk really isn't for him, but since we knew that Wali was already a non-commit, I of course wanted to find out what those "couple of things" actually were. "He (Wali) just really wants to see what's going to go on with defensive situation there." Coach Carter said.

It's a mind-set that Wali is sure of to an extent, but something his coach is very sure of and has advised Wali as such. "I told him that this (committing) was something he couldn't do until he knows what's going on there." Carter stated. "I said if this is what you want to do, fine, but let's make sure what they are doing and what direction they are going."

"I would be surprised if it's not something that he likes, but I said that you got a little time, so don't worry about getting in a hurry."

The situation at Nebraska and the lack of a defensive coordinator, hence certain defensive positions have left something like this as a distinct possibility. NU fans and many recruits that are interested in NU have voiced concern over the expeditious handling of the situation. That has been the belief for over a week now and for many, it's still the belief and maybe, hope that some sort of announcement is coming soon. "I"m assuming that they are going to do it (announce) soon." Carter said.

One of the biggest issues for Wali here from what his coach indicated, is that he isn't worried necessarily about who the coach is or where he comes from, but what he will do at NU. It isn't about who's coaching the defense, but about the defense itself. "He (Wali) wants to make sure that the scheme NU has been running will be the one they are running after someone else gets in there." Carter said. "It's a big investment here for him and it's a big part of his life. He just wants to make sure that what he saw before (on defense) as far as what they were doing will still be what they are doing when someone else takes over."

"He just wants to be comfortable with what he is doing. I think he likes what he saw there, but he just wants to know that it's going to be the right place and system for him for however long he is there."

This last season, Wali set a school record with 22 sacks and recorded an eye-popping 120+ tackles on the year. His former coach describes him as basically, an engine with no shut-off switch. "He's got one of those motors that just never stops." Carter said. "In high school, he was a good player, but you could see in him that he could be a great player at the collegiate level."

"Once he got there, he just blossomed, bulked up and now, he's just a playmaker."

This "playmaker" has one more play to make before his JUCO year is done. Basically, that's the look left, look right and charge right up the middle, yelling out "I commit to.........", and then, you will know where Wali is going for sure.


Out of Pima Community College, Mike is unsung in some areas, but certainly not wherever he plays. Not overly tall, but incredibly physical, Mike makes a living off of his technique and his power.

Oh yeah, and he's not a commit, or at least that is what his former coach, Carlo Hernandez stated. "No, he's not a commit." Coach Hernandez stated. "He's looking at three schools right now."

"I am going to say that Nebraska is the front runner along with Texas Tech and from what I am understanding, USC."

Ok, now this is where we get into an area we just discussed above. Mike's coach says he's not a commit, but guess what. That is the same thing as some coach saying that Mike IS a commit. It doesn't mean it's a fact.

Mike was there, but he expressly didn't want to talk about schools and what not, so when I spoke to him, it was about him and him alone.

So, we move back to what the coach said about who has offered Mike amongst those three and who hasn't. "Nebraska and Texas Tech have offered him and USC is waiting to make sure he makes it in the classroom."

Well, as far as the classroom goes, Mike is projected as a May graduate. After that, he will have three years to play two years.

Mike's only visit right now is scheduled for Nebraska in "early January".

So now, let's talk to Mike about Mike.

If there is one thing you can say about Mike, he isn't necessarily big like you want cornerbacks to be, but his 5'10" body holds his almost 200 lbs. of weight just fine. With that type of build, assuming he is physical is an assumption you didn't even need to make. "I am very physical." Mike stated. "I like to get up in their face and press them a lot. Most receivers look at me as if I am not even there, but I am a very aggressive player."

Mike's not only aggressive, he's fast. It's ok to be physical, because in Bump n' Run, that is a must, but after that bump, you have to run and at a reported 4.4/40 clip, not many (if any) are getting away from him.

In this day and age, there is one "big" receiver after another on each and every team. One guy that is 6'3" or 6'4" and he's got wheels. For guys Mike's size, this presents an obvious mismatch in physicality, but Mike has the remedy for that. "When I am going against a guy like that, it's important to give them a good bump at the line." Mike said. "I chuck them hard enough and it seems like most of them just feel like they lost and you've taken them out of the play."

That's what Mike is supposed to do though, take his guy out of the play. He doesn't want to be so convincing of that though, that quarterbacks never look his way. For Mike, his success comes from dominating, but not always looking like he's dominating. "If I stick to my guy all the time, the QB is never going to look my way." Mike said. "I've taken him out of the game, but that just means they go someplace else."

"I want to make the QB think that he does have a play by giving my guy a little more space, but the kind of space I know I can close when I have to. That way I am not just playing the man, I get to play the ball. That's what really makes a difference in the game."

Ok, this kid knows the game and his position very well. As his coach agreed with me, he seems to be the consummate student of the game.

If NU and Texas Tech have indeed offered, you don't have to look to hard to find out why. This kid can flat out play.

So, that brings us full circle as to who he is going to play for. Well, from his coaches' comments, Nebraska appears to be the leader, but a graduation date of May leaves a lot of time for a lot of changes in the mind and in the heart.

I suggest you take it easy on too much anticipation here. This situation has a while to develop.

As for both, they aren't future Huskers, at least not yet. Both are interested, one seemingly more-so than the other.

NU's interest in them also appears to be there, so when this plays out might be as important as how it plays out, in the end.

Just remember though........It isn't "I heard he committed" or "someone else said he committed", but it's from that player themselves saying, "I committed" and to where.

Information is useful if you want it to be. Just make sure you use it in the right way.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619

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