Nebraska has one of the biggest recruiting weekends in school history this weekend against Wisconsin with a number of high-profile visitors scheduled to be on campus. Throughout the week, I’ll pick a few visitors to evaluate. Monday, I took a look at Texas wide receiver Tommy Bush. Tuesday, I took a look at 4-star defensive back commit Chase Williams.
Today, I will take a look at Nebraska’s top running back target for 2018, TJ Pledger. The IMG teammate of Brendan Radley-Hiles and Brian Hightower, both of whom will also both be visiting this weekend, is an Oklahoma commit but that hasn’t stopped Nebraska from pursuing him very hard.
When you pop on Pledger’s junior film (his senior film at IMG hasn’t been updated) you see why Nebraska is working so hard to flip his commitment. Something you notice immediately is Pledger’s ability to cut on a dime at full-speed. That ability is something that made Ameer Abdullah very successful at the college level.
In addition to his cutting ability, Pledger is a “one-cut and go” type of running back. He does not need a lot of space or time to get going before he is off to the races. That puts a lot of pressure on defenses because you have to stay near perfect to bottle up a running back with that type of skill.
Pledger is a smaller back (5-9, 185) but he runs with power and rarely goes down on first contact. That’s not just because he is a powerful runner but also because he has superior balance, allowing him to take hits and keep on moving forward.
To me, Pledger is in the mold of running backs we have seen enter college football and contribute in a big way immediately as a true freshman. In addition to all of the skills I mentioned in this evaluation, he is a good pass catcher out of the backfield too. Whichever college ends up with him will be lucky to have him.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.