Tale of the Tape

You think that you know at least most of the story when it comes to the recruiting class until you see the final video. Over the past week or so, I have had a chance to review all of the recruits' film one last time before I finally turn the page on the 2009 class and start to focus on the 2010 class. Here are some of my last thoughts on the class of 2009 for Nebraska.

Needless to say, this class has its star power it also has its players that flew a little under the radar when it comes their recruiting rankings/stars, but that is nothing to be upset about.

MAY SURPRISE

There are a lot of players that really stood out to me on the tape. Most, I already had pegged for being a player after seeing some of the film before or their reputations had preceded them. However, I was really surprised with Dijon Washington and his ability.

If there is a position that is going to get a look with some younger players playing it then it might be safety. Washington is long, he's quick and he's mean. Some of the hardest hits on the film were by Washington. Hits that made you forget that he is only about 180-pounds or so.

Washington packs a punch at the safety position and will come up and stick you. I didn't see a lot of him playing centerfield, but there was some film and he looks natural in pass coverage. I wanted to see if the 4.6 speed that Scout.com's database was slow or accurate and I would say that there aren't many on the field that can catch him.

Washington is a very good get for Nebraska and like I said on signing day after I spoke to the recruiting coach at his high school there were a handful of PAC 10 schools that were really working him all the way up until signing day. It was just a great job by the Nebraska staff on this player.

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Previously, I have been on the record saying that I thought that the secondary recruits were the strength of this recruiting class. Well, I have changed my mind and it didn't take long. I don't have a negative thing against the secondary class; I just have too many positives to say about another position.

Chris Williams and Eric Martin, the two linebackers in the 2009 class, make the linebacker position the best position in this class. Both of these players are unlike anything that Nebraska currently has on the team and that is what makes this position in this class so special.

What I like about Eric Martin is that he is aggressive. I like guys that excel on special teams because you have to be just a little bit nuts to play it in the first place and those that are very good at it typically translates to a player that is very physical.

I think that both Martin and Williams have the ability to shed blocks, but I also believe that they have the knack to not be where a blocker thinks they will be because they are both so instinctual at the position and are usually flowing to the play.

Up to this point in my eight or nine year "career" looking at Nebraska linebacker recruits I had always thought of Barrett Ruud to be the soundest of all of the linebackers in terms of fundamentals. The knock on Ruud was that he just wasn't a great athlete.

Well, I think that Williams has finally topped Ruud on my list. I think that Williams might be the most instinctual linebacker I have ever seen as well as being a disruptive force and being a sound tackler. Williams really pops out on film as well because of his athleticism. I have a new #1 all-time and in this class.

THE RIGHT FIT?

I have been waiting. Waiting for the time to come when Nebraska can convince a 5-foot-11 or 6-foot-0 player with legit 4.4 speed to come to Lincoln. Kendall Thompkins was supposed to be that guy last year. That is the type of receiver Nebraska is lacking and desperately needs.

Then, I got to watch the film on the receiver recruits for 2009 and I think that Nebraska is in need of that player even more. Don't get me wrong, I think that Nebraska will get good use out of Brandon Kinnie who is a big, physical receiver, but I don't think that there is any way that I would say that he is a 4.5 guy.

I thought that Antonio Bell's film looked good as well. He really made plays and can make them inside at the slot or outside as the flanker. However, he doesn't have the speed that I think that Nebraska is in desperate need of on the outside. I can see both of these guys getting a chance to play next year, but will the elevate Nebraska?

HE IS WHAT I THOUGHT HE WAS

I can't do all of this and not include who I consider to be the most impressive recruit in the Nebraska class. After seeing even more film that just left me with my mouth on the floor it is who I already thought it was: Rex Burkhead.

To me, Burkhead has all of the tools as a running back. He has the speed that you need to be a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He has the strength that you covet when you need a guy to break a tackle or two. He has hands that will rival the best wide receivers already at Nebraska.

However, what really sets Burkhead apart from the others is his vision on the football field. I think that Burkhead's football IQ is about 190 and when you have that intelligence on the field things start to slow down for those players. Then, you combine the ability to go from standing still to 4.4/40 fast in three or four steps, then you have something special.

Barring something tragic happening to Burkhead, like an injury, I expect him to play next year and play well. I think that he could get a look at some slot receiver time because he is just so good in space and has very good hands. I also think that he will give a needed boost to the special teams on returns.

In the end, is this class a top 30 or top 20 class? I don't know. I don't care. I think that there are some real gems in this group though and for the most part they weren't as heralded as they should have been when it came to their recruiting rankings. It's a tragedy to some extent, but for Nebraska this class should pay immediate and long-term dividends.


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