Nearly 7,000 people showed up for Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camp this week. Smart move on their parts as the type of recruits Nebraska had at its second camp look better in person than on their Hudl film. There were some NFL-prototype bodies on campus this weekend. It’s important to emphasize that these are shorts-and-t-shirts workouts and the stresses of game plans and playbooks, the grind that is college football at times, aren’t on them yet, but they definitely look the part.
That was one of the themes from Friday. Here are some quick impressions of the players that jumped out to me. (*Nebraska commit)
WR Manuel Allen* | 2018, Centennial HS, Corona, Calif.
Allen (6-2, 170) looked really good on Friday. He’s very much in the mold of the long athletes Nebraska is after right now, which I like. Allen is that outside receiver you can count on to win more than his share of 50-50 balls, and the Huskers have a nice blend of body types at receiver with promising young players in the slot. Guys like Allen and Joshua Moore sort of offer the other part of the equation.
CB Houston Griffith | 2018, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
Griffith (6-0, 185) could stay at the size he’s at and play corner. He could gain 5 or 10 more pounds and play safety. He could bulk up 15 or 20 pounds and play linebacker, that’s how big Griffith looked in person. He’s long with long arms and he’s smooth and fluid in everything he does. Film doesn’t do him justice. He has the Richard Sherman-sort of build that everyone in the NFL wants right now. You can do whatever you want with a player like this. If he wants to play corner, great. Safety? No problem. He could handle inside linebacker because you don’t need to be that big in a 3-4. Guys like 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman kind of squashed that whole theory that you need to be a big thumper like Tedy Bruschi. If you’re physical and really fast, you can get away from anyone and go chase people down. Griffith looks like one of those jack-of-all-trades guys.
TE Chris Hickman | 2019, Burke HS, Omaha, Neb.
He’s tall (6-5) and long. You could add 25 or 30 pounds to his frame and he’ll still be able to move and run like a gazelle. I have to imagine that an offer is coming soon. There were many players at the camp that “looked the part,” and Hickman is in that group.
WR Joshua Moore* | 2018, Yoakum HS, Yoakum, Texas
I watched Moore quite a bit and he’s the definition of a fluid athlete. Just smooth, man. He’s like a greyhound or a thoroughbred. He’s just fluid in what he does. You can tell that Moore really works at his trade, the art of being a wide receiver. At 6-foot-3, he reminds me a lot of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. I don’t want to pigeonhole him or back him into a corner by making that comparison, but with his body type and the way he handles himself it always pops into my head — “That’s A.J. Green.” Moore can be really good. And he’s pretty thin right now. He could put 20 pounds on and you wouldn’t even notice, which would make him even better. In terms of frame, he could end up looking a lot like Stanley Morgan Jr. looks now, but with a little more length.
DE Micah Parsons | 2018, Harrisburg HS, Harrisburg, Pa.
I didn’t get to see Parsons do a whole lot, but I didn’t need to see much to know what I was looking at. When I first walked into the stadium, before I had a roster with names and numbers, I saw him talking to linebackers Coach Trent Bray and wondered, “who is that current player talking to Coach Bray.” He had his camp shirt rolled up, but he was wearing a camp shirt and when the crowd started to chant “Mi-CAH Par-SONS” it became apparent he wasn’t a current Husker, but a Husker recruit. Holy smokes. Parsons looks like he’s been in a D1 program for a couple of years already. I know he’s listed as a defensive end, but I think he’s your prototypical outside linebacker in a 3-4. He’d be a huge addition to the class. With him spending time Friday with Bray and defensive line Coach John Parrella, I assume that’s how Nebraska would use him. He’ll be able to put his hand in the dirt when Nebraska goes to a sub package like nickel or dime with a four-man front, but on downs one and two he’ll be your stand-up outside linebacker. He’s a helluva athlete. There’s a reason he’s a 5-star guy.
CB Brendan Radley-Hiles* | 2018, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
While Griffith and current Nebraska commit Chase Williams have the body types to fit at a number of positions, Radley-Hiles is closer to your prototypical cornerback. He seems to have the mentality for it, too, because when it’s time to play and it’s time to go get a football, that guy does it. He knows how to get it done. I think Radley-Hiles has a little bulldog in him, that mentality that when it’s one-on-one he is going to win no matter what. That’s when his competitiveness, explosiveness and athleticism really shows. He plays bigger than what he’s listed at in competitive situations. I’ll always take a guy who may not have the measurables of others but loves to compete. That’s Bookie.
ATH Chase Williams* | 2018, Eleanor Roosevelt HS, Corona, Calif.
Everything I said about Griffith above also applies to Williams, the difference being the Huskers already have Williams in the class. He’s like a Swiss Army knife. Nebraska can do whatever it wants with him, and there’s some history of that here. Former defensive coordinator Charlie McBride wasn’t afraid to take a safety or defensive back and turn him into a linebacker, or take a linebacker and turn him into a defensive end. The one thing you can’t sacrifice, or really even coach or train, is speed. You can do a lot of things with players like Williams and Griffith to cover up mistakes. They’re erasers. Lavonte David was one. He covered up a lot of mistakes up front with his sheer speed.
Click here for more from Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camps.