HUSKERS GOT ANOTHER
LB, Corey McKeon out of Illinois said Merry Christmas to the Huskers as he promised himself for the next few years as a potential star for the Big Red. Corey's speed is his asset, his size will be worked up to be and his heart is without question. Corey was also a commit prior to the visit of Pelini, so it was everything that was already there that impressed him.
Chalk another one up for NU.
Word is that Wali pulled the trigger..............again? Well, no, it's supposedly legit this time, but we'll wait to talk to him to see for ourselves. As for Wali, if NU did in fact get him, they got a serious QB stalker. Wali set the school record with 22 sacks last year at Coffeyville and with his size and his speed and of course, the anemic depth at RE for the University of Nebraska, expect to be hearing his named called out soon and often.
Walter Washington is another rumor circulating around about his committing to NU. We just did an update from yesterday when he said he hadn't made the decision yet. Chances are, he still hasn't, so just hold on a little while longer, because he should have something for everyone by the time this week is done.
Out of these four, NU has a shot at two at least. Tommy Z is looking very hard at QB and if QB is the position he wants to play, there's only one place he's going to play it and that's right smack dab in Lincoln.
Calvin Roberts seems to be a hard lean, but just today he told me that he didn't commit, but the Dallas Morning News reported he did. He did say that NU was a definite back up plan for him if nothing else worked out.
Earl Everett, the LB who would be a QB, well, NU was the only team recruiting him as a QB, hence his interest in going to NU, but after his visit, NU doesn't lead, so this one should fall right off the map.
Joey Dailey - I have absolutely no idea about this young man outside of the good things I have heard. He's a Syracuse commit, but that was way back in June and who knows, the waning depth at QB for NU might have been just what he was looking for.
Langenfeld and Braker are both defensive ends and about Braker, his measurements at least in regards to his height are accurate. I was walking right by the guy and he is Wilson Thomas tall. Lanky and a speed rusher. Langenfeld isn't as tall, but he's got a bigger build and he's even faster than Braker. Try a reported 4.47 and that's for a RE? HOLY SHNIKEYS.
The depth at this position (again) is what is attracting these guys and you know how hard NU is hitting the JUCO ranks, so keep these kids in mind.
1 OL - Brett Byford, a strong NU lean almost the entirety of the recruiting process and don't expect that to change. Also, don't expect his decision to take much longer. It could be by this weekend.
1 LB - Larry Edwards, good size, good speed and a good interest in NU to boot. He may not be up there in rankings, but don't think this kid can't play. The attraction of NU's depth chart has effects on the LB position players as well and well, there's also a certain new coach to take into account.
Don't be surprised if NU all of a sudden doesn't become more attractive to some of the better Lbs across the country. Even this late in the game, new things always pop up and with Pelini making the calls, well.............."Hey, my name is Bo Pelini and I am the defensive coordinator at Nebraska. Well, I am not at Nebraska right now as I am the LB coach for the Green Bay packers as we are one of the best teams in the country and could be on our way to the SUPER BOWL."
You think recruits with NFL stars in their eyes won't see this as a golden opportunity?
You never know what could happen.
The biggest questions for many out of this weekend was that of Tommy Z. With all the hype that this young man is getting, his rankings aside, he's the hottest football commodity out there. He's on everyone's tongue and let me tell you something, that's a double bonus for NU if they get them.
There's always been a question of whether college teams get commits early, but ask them not to commit until such and such time of the year. Yeah, that does happen. It happens because when all the recruits are looking where to go, it's the recruits a year before them that are looking as well.
And they names they see everyday are the ones they follow and where they go, well, all of a sudden those teams pop into their head and maybe, they might just stay there.
If NU gets Zbikowski, they not only get a first class player and a five star kid, they get the most publicized high school athlete outside of Lebron James. The kids that have yet to experience the full effect of the recruiting process, they see this and Nebraska though known, becomes even more known because they were good enough to get one of the most hyped of hyped players around.
It's like one of those Mastercard commercials.
"Chartered Jet", $40,000.00"
"Recruit Banquet, $6,500.00"
"Hotel rooms for recruits, $12,000.00"
"Getting a commit from a kid that's so popular, he influences the next two classes to come, priceless"
When money isn't enough, for everything else, there's good PR.
Image is everything.........after all
Ok, NEBRASKA COACH, BO PELINI
That have a nice ring to it Husker fans? It should. But, it should even feel better, because it's coaches like this with the reputations they have, that cement recruits instead of bury them. Young, energetic, intense and involved, heck, he's a recruiting gold mine waiting to happen.
Nine years in the NFL, has put Linebackers into the Pro Bowl and he's still in the NFL right now. All this makes him is a virtual recruiting juggernaut for his first two years when his name might not be fresh in everyone's mind, but Diggs, Nate Wayne and so on, well those names will last awhile.
Not only can he coach, but he can recruit. Most speculated the guy he replaced couldn't do either.
Ok, moving on
The long and short of recruiting predictions.
Ok, here's the short.
By the time the process is done, NU will have these names amongst it's roster and no, don't hold me to this. Heck, I don't even have a tele-prompter. I'm just calling it a hunch.
Walter Washington (I'll probably get burned on this one)
Donald Defrand (Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it)
Tommy Zbikowski (get ready for this kid, because he's going to give it a helluva shot next year)
Ok, let's go out on a ledge here.
And some longshots, but shots
And my make or break pick of the year that has no basis or support, DE, Kyle Caldwell.
Not good enough? Ok, let's start breaking down the positions and we'll start with QB
Walter Washington - JUCO - One of the finalists for the NJCAA player of the year award, Walter proved himself to be both strong and versatile, physical yet elusive. His size doesn't bode well for the flat out speed of other NU Qbs, but his arm strength could be a serious weapon making his running an even bigger threat because the defenses have to play both. If he is effective like it's assumed he will be at both phases of the game, that will open up the NU running attack once again.
Calvin Roberts - Port Arthur, TX (Memorial) - There's no question about athleticism here. He's fast, nimble and as per your typical NU QB, he's a great runner, but as always, can he throw? He's not going to blow you away with his stats. In this last game against Humble, he threw three interceptions and was less than fifty percent on his throws for the day. With that being said, his team was far outmatched and didn't have a chance.
He's a project much like Lord, much like Frost, but his biggest drawback will be his size. The listed measurements for him are just not right. I stood about five feet away from him and he's not 6'1". It's not like NU hasn't seen this type of QB before and had success with him, but his frame is probably the biggest issue. Can he hold that weight. While the aforementioned Washington has enough weight to bully off stout linebackers, Calvin will have a hard time fighting off ready safeties. Calvin is a fierce competitor though and you won't see him fail for the lack of trying.
Joe Dailey - Jersey City, NJ (St. Peters) - At a reported 6-2 and 200 lbs., Dailey has the frame to hold a good increase in muscle mass. At Nebraska, that's important because he's going to take more hits at NU than he would anywhere else, unless of course the other team's O line is terrible.
Again though, that is reported. If it's accurate, great, but I would suspect that Joey is closer to 6-0, but if he's at least six foot, that still gives you some room to work.
He was rated pretty high coming into this last season and proved those rankings to be accurate if not inadequate to what he accomplished this year. With 2,076 total offensive yards and 32 touchdowns (19 passing, 13 rushing) and nine 2-point conversions, Dailey did enough to earn himself the title of "Heisman High School All-Star".
Presently, he's a Syracuse commit, but that was way back in June and his official to Nebraska this last weekend suggests that Dailey could be thinking about greener grass and chances to get on the field very early.
Tommy Zbikowski - Buffalo Grove, IL. - Tommy is rated as one of the top safeties in the country, but NU wants him as a QB. His style is reminiscent of Eric Crouch, albeit without that initial burst and he's tough as they come. Passing is something that ever prospective NU QB nees to work on it would seem, but fundamentally, Tommy is pretty sound.
His effectiveness running the option could be key as he shows remarkable vision when moving east to west. Though he won't have had the opportunities to pitch like he would at Nebraska, he's at least got some of the basics down.
The biggest thing with Tommy isn't his size as he will be another one that is going to have to deal with being a little undersized even as an option QB, but his biggest thing will be trying to stay healthy. No, he's not one that has a propensity to get hurt, but this kid is a fighter and hardly just the sense of his boxing background. He's very prone to take the hits rather than run out of bounds and while the football purist may say that's the way to be, when you are his size, it could make a full season pretty tough to take.
But, he is tough. About as tough as they come and we will actually have a full film review up on Tommy next week.
If you are looking for the prototypical NU QB, first you have to decide what that is. In all honesty, what NU has right now in Lord and Dukes fits as close to the molds as you can come. With Lord, you have one of the most elusive running quarterbacks Nebraska has ever seen and once in the open, his speed is decent, but certainly nothing compared to that of his predecessor.
With Curt Dukes, you might look at Scott Frost to get your best idea of what this young man is like. He's physical, instinctive and has the mentality to play the game. He doesn't get rattled easily and will fight to the end. His throwing, much like Lord's is and will continue to be the question.
I will give you my idea of the perfect NU QB and no, I won't just say Tommie Frazier and be done with it.
6'2" is ideal. If you can be around 215 to 220, even better. The kind of flexibility here can be calculated as such. For every inch you give up, you better take a tenth off your forty. I say this because a taller QB automatically has the advantage because he can view the field even after the ball is snapped.
With linemen getting taller and taller, A QB finds himself moving farther and farther back in the pocket just to see the routes and the defense, so getting back there quick is a must if you do not have the luxury of height.
Nebraska is notoriously timing-driven, but unlike most offenses, it keys on the run first and then, the pass. While a player that is around 6 foot to 6'1" can easily work the offense from side to side, it's the stuff over the top that height comes into play the most.
When you look at what they must do as a runner, just think of what any other running back must do, must be and you pretty much have it right there. Fast, physical, elusive, smart, aware and instinctive. Yeah, that's a lot to ask of any running back, so as a leader out on the field , the quarterback is hit from all angles. He has to be that running back and then, he has to be the thrower when called upon.
The old cliche' of NU Qbs is that they are running backs playing quarterback. Since around 1973, that's been the goal if not the case in all circumstances. As the game progresses, you see the evolution of the QB going from the drop back passing types to run/pass quarterbacks. The line though is becoming increasingly thin.
All signal callers are now looked to, to do a variety of things in the scheme of the offense because defenses are faster, quicker, stronger and smarter than they have ever been. Most of the time, you can't just sit back there and throw all day, because eventually, someone is going to have your number.
Nebraska is the historical antithesis of that as they have ran first, ran second and passed when convenient.
Actually, in recent history, it's been run, run and pass when they had to, because of a variety of reasons.
NU though has to look at this from the other way as they are (and have been) trying to find that perfect combination of running and passing ability. While NU does recruit the Donovan McNabb types that can do both effectively, ultimately those field generals end up heading to pastures they think will offer them better NFL potential.
So, Nebraska takes these option quarterbacks that don't have a long history of throwing and puts them in, hoping they can work with what each player has and over time, build on that.
As an NU QB, you are needed to have great field vision, ahead and side to side. It's a necessity for running the option. You also need to be able to be that running back most of the time as well. It's a duplicity with an immense amount of pressure, but it's pressure applied mostly to the strengths of the athlete running the plays and most of the pressure ironically enough comes in the facet of the game least used, which segues into our next segment.
If you are looking for David Humm, find a video tape, because in today's Nebraska offense, that's not going to happen. There appears to be no happy medium with Nebraska when it comes to doing both (passing and running) effectively.
As was previously said, Nebraska does take those quarterbacks out of the high school level that have virtually no real passing experience, but it's because they have what NU looks at most, the ability to run the offense from the QB position.
Efficiency first. That should be the motto of all Nebraska signal callers. Don't be great, but be good enough so that you may not score touchdowns with your throws, but you will move the ball. The passing game for NU is a means to an end. It provides the running game with a little comfort zone for their bread and butter running attack to work it's magic.
And while you would think that the pressure of being a good thrower at NU isn't that great, think again. It's more. Actually, it's much more. With much fewer attempts per game in the passing arena, the QB is asked to do more with less opportunities. What that QB has to do is get the defense off the line of scrimmage, because initially, against NU, that's where they are going to be.
Remember back to the ‘97 Orange Bowl where Tennessee was stacking the box. With athletes like future NFL players, Wilson and Little, Nebraska was getting the eight and nine man in the box look consistently and with the speed of the Vols on defense, the running game was going nowhere unless that passing game worked.
Scott Frost made it work, as he completed three or four passes in a row. He forced the TN defense to back off and the running game was able to wear that fierce defense down to the point where NU was able to come out in the third quarter and put up 220 yards rushing in that quarter alone. The pass at NU can be argued to be as important as it is with any of those pass-happy offenses around the country, not because people are expecting it, but because they aren't. If you can't pass when you are Nebraska, you never know, you might end up going 7-6 on year.
The most underrated aspect of a successful NU QB is that ability to read the field. No, not the defenses, but what they defenses are giving him as the play develops.
When you are in the middle of an option right, here are just some of the variables you as the QB must take into account.
Where the running back is to your right
Where the full back is to your left
Where no less than two linemen are as they are pulling in front of you for the play
linebackers shooting the gaps
Obviously, a lot of these depends on that particular play, but that's a basic generalization of some of the keys and that is what the QB has to look for even before he hits the line of scrimmage.
At that time, it's pitch or run and this is where a true option QB shines. What he sees or his ability to see not just in front of him, but to his right can determine whether a play gets cut for a loss or goes for a considerable gain.
You have seen it this last year and year's before, especially in recent history with Scott Frost. That ability to pitch at the very last second and sometimes, not even looking. That's dangerous, but sometimes your vision coupled with your awareness of the field can give you such an accurate idea of how the play is developing, this becomes almost second nature.
Part of the option success is the QB not having to see the RB, but know that he is where he is supposed to be. Considering though that the QB is going to look almost every time he pitches the ball, what he sees and his ability to read things at a rapid rate is a necessity.
It's like the old saying that the biggest change as you change in the levels of football is the speed. Sitting back in the pocket, the rush is faster than it used to be. Well, with the option, you make it exponentially worse, because as they are running at you, you are running at them. Oh yeah, and all of this is based on not passing and well, that's just another thing a player has to "look" for.
You can see where vision absolutely vital.
Think this doesn't matter? This is the option folks. You better have guts or just get off the field. An option QB doesn't take hits, he's supposed to. That means when you run the option, you have taken at least one defender out of the play on the pitch out, thus the potential for more success on that particular snap.
It's this deep-down tenaciousness, grit and throwback kind of attitude that pure drop back passers don't necessarily have to have. They need to make that crucial throw, whereas the option QB needs to sometimes do that, but more often that not, it's about making that run, breaking that tackle and basically, having to be more physical than the other guy.
When you are consistently outmatched physically by the people you are facing, it takes guts and in some cases, a little insanity doesn't hurt. Running headlong into a 240 lbs. linebacker that is running headlong at you isn't just an occasional thing, it's an every day thing. It's almost an every snap thing, so it's like that old saying, "You better come strong or you better not come at all."
Again, another underrated aspect of the option QB is that he doesn't have to be that quick on the uptake, because he's just a guy running around and pitching a ball, passing whenever it's needed.
That could be the biggest misnomer of them all. A passing QB has to learn how to read defenses, not just in progression, but on the fly. He's got to sit back there and make crucial reads at crucial times, delivering the ball with consistency.
Well, the option QB has to do that to, but like before, he does it with more pressure as he doesn't have 54 chances to do it, thereby getting into a rhythm. He's doing it once ever five to six plays at best. You try that one for size.
He has to do that, know when to run, know when to pitch, read not just pass defenses, but run defenses. He has to be able to see fronts, recognize blitzes, be able to audible and sometimes, do this all at the most crucial parts of the game.
Jammal Lord could be one of the most physically gifted players NU has had in some time at the quarterback position, but his inability to either handle the pressure or mentally grasp the system has hampered him, sometimes at the most significant of times. The last play against Texas would be a good illustration. The circumstance demands that you throw that ball at least into the back of the end zone. Time is short as is the field, so throw it into the back of the endzone, get the play or try another one.
He throws it two yards short of the endzone into what was ultimately double coverage. Decision making is all apart of intelligence.
And last but not least, A Leader..........
When Miami was ahead of Nebraska by almost two touchdowns, Tommie Frazier walked up and down the sidelines saying, "I don't know how , but we are going to do it. We are going to win this game." That's paraphrased a bit, but Damon Benning will back up the message if you don't believe me.
It's the innate ability to be the focal point of why your team comes from the dredges to win when it seems most unlikely. You are the embodiment of the team's spirit, because you are the one with the ball in your hands. The control ultimately goes to him, hence the responsibility. He's the hero and he's the goat. He's the reason and he's the cause.
A QB does not have to be vocal in his leadership, but he does have to be a leader. Those with the best combination of all those factors above usually end up being the best leaders, because people habitually follow those that are the most successful, because that's where they want to be.
Tommie Frazier had a little bit of all of these things and a whole lot of some. He drove his team, led his team and believe it or not, wasn't the most popular guy around. He was the sum of all those parts mentioned previously, equaling one thing, A winner.
A QB for any team has to be that, but at Nebraska he better be all that and one tough son of a gun as well.
The formula for what works at NU is shaky. It's inexact and it's an idea. It's the idea of what makes these quarterbacks successful. Does Walter Washington, Tommy Zbikowski, Curt Dukes, Joey Dailey, Jammal Lord or even Mike Stuntz have that?
Maybe, maybe not, but the one that comes closest will be your eventual Husker leader. The rest, only time will tell.
Well, that's it folks and I can bet you are glad. This has been the elongated version of TAKE ONE, where we didn't just talk recruiting, but a little of everything else as well. This is your Christmas edition and we will run down the positions from this date on as we do our best to take you through the recruiting madness with a smooth and steady rhythm.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays