Nebraska trying to mine Colorado for talent

Last year the Huskers nabbed mammoth offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles from Lakewood (Colo.) and they've kept the Colorado connection going with the recent commitment of Mike Moudy to the '10 class. Can Nebraska add one more?

Dillon Bonnell, out of Thunderridge high school in Highlands Ranch (Colo.), has seen his stock soar over the last few months. Teams from all across the country have made offers, making him one of the most sought after players in the state of Colorado this year.

"I'm up to 17 offers now, they are from all over. I've got Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Duke, Kentucky, Arizona State, Northwestern, South Florida, Kansas, Stanford, Colorado, Washington, Utah, California, Oregon State, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Most of these offers have all started coming in since March."

What about the interest from Nebraska, how did that all come about?

"I got the offer from Nebraska a little less than a month ago. Pretty much the first time I had contact with them they offered me. Before that happened I sent film out to the University of Nebraska, and then a couple weeks later I received a call one night from coach Gilmore. He told me Bo Pelini okayed the offer, and they were ready to offer me. When they sent the letter out I called coach Bo myself, I enjoyed talking to him."

Did you know anything about the Huskers when you got the offer, or were they a team you didn't have prior knowledge of?

"I knew they have great tradition up there and their looking to get back on top. And I believe they are going to do that with that new coaching staff and the players they are bringing in."

He was also aware of the Huskers recent success in recruiting his home state. The fact is, Nebraska's looking to establish a pipeline in Colorado.

"I definitely realize what they are doing. Coach Cotton even said that to us, they really like the way Colorado offensive linemen play, and they are going to recruit the state hard. I know they got that guy (Jeremiah Sirles) last year and Mike Moudy this year. Mike and I played against each other twice last year, we beat them the first game then they knocked us out of the playoffs.

"Mike is a great player, very aggressive on the field and they racked up a lot of rushing yards against us last year. My coach saw him recently at a track meet and said he has even gotten bigger, and I believe my coach. What's cool is our first game of the year this year is against Mike's team, and since I'll be playing defense this year, we might line up against each other."

As was just mentioned, like many high school players, Dillon will play both sides of the ball his senior year.

"Yeah, I'll be on the O-line this year and I'll play defensive tackle too. I play all along the D-line, the zero, the one technique and all the way out to the fours and fives. I really enjoy playing defense, I just like to hit people. I even have a few offers to play defensive line, one of them is Oregon State. But even some of the other schools have said I could play either."

Do you have a position you prefer, and which spot are the Huskers recruiting you for?

"Nebraska is recruiting me at offensive line, most likely the interior line. But there is actually a little bit of a difference of opinion there. A lot of schools are looking at me at guard, but also quite a few for tackle because they say I have very quick feet. They all say I could probably play both. I really don't care where I line up."

In the past few weeks, Dillon hit the road with his father to check out the campuses of programs who have offered the highly coveted big man. One of those stops was Lincoln, the other, a familiar Big 12 rival.

"I went up to visit Kansas last week, and we planned on visiting both schools. I had a good trip in Kansas, the have a really nice program. We went to Kansas on Saturday, then we drove down to Nebraska the next day, but only coach Cotton was there because it was Mothers Day and a lot of the other coaches were out of town."

Dillon then went on to talk about his impressions of the campus in Lincoln.

"It was Sunday so there wasn't a lot open, but coach Cotton took us around and showed us everything. We saw the stadium, the players lounge, the facilities and all that good stuff, we also sat around and talked to coach Cotton a lot.

"I was very impressed with everything, it just kept on coming, it was incredible. I've seen Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado State, Colorado and Arizona State. They all have great facilities, but I'd have to say Nebraska has the best. It seems like they had at least two of everything."

Was that the first time you met the offensive line coach from Nebraska, and what were your initial thoughts of him as your potential position coach?

"Yes, that was the first time we met face-to-face. I really liked him, he seemed like he really cares about his players. I would definitely say he is a players coach. I could tell he was a guy I could play for."

And make no mistake, when Dillon does decide to deliver his commitment to some lucky program, he has a clear idea of what he's looking for.

"Education is going to be number one, I want to know I can have a career after football. Yeah, I'm there to play football but I want to get my degree. I'm also going to see how the program is run by the coaches, what kind of atmosphere does the school bring to the table, those kinds of things.Location isn't going to be a factor in my decision. My family will support me with whatever choice I make. This is a family decision, but they trust my judgment enough to make the right decision. But they will give me guidance along they way."

Dillon said he has an idea of when he would like to pull the trigger, so don't expect him to drag out the process. And once he does commit, he is shutting it down.

"My high school head coach and I have decided that it would be best if I make a decision before my senior season starts so we can really focus on winning as a team, and kind of get these distractions out of the way. He wants our focus to be on winning and our school. I'd say somewhere around mid August I'll commit.

"When I make my decision it will be solid, where I pick is where I will go. That's why I'm taking a little longer with this."

And just because Dillon is opting to make an early decision, doesn't mean he's tired of the recruiting process.

"I'm really enjoying it, it's a great experience. Not everybody gets to go through this and you just have to take it all in stride."

Dillon was originally born in California and moved to the state of Colorado when he was five. He plans to visit Cal and Stanford in a few weeks, later he'll be making a return trip to Lincoln in June for second visit. Dillon has never attended a college football game, so he's looking forward to the official visit of the school he chooses. When asked who his favorite all-time football player was, he said "Troy Polamalu, I just like his aggressive style on the field and he plays his heart out every play, that's how I play the game". Combine all that with his 4.0 GPA and his 6-foot-4 and 280-pound frame, and it becomes obvious why Dillon is desired by so many programs.

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