Recruiting in-state for Nebraska has picked up over the last few cycles. The state has enjoyed a nice run of Power Five level prospects going back to the 2019 recruiting class. The state had five players that received Nebraska offers during that cycle. All five are currently playing in Lincoln. The 2020 cycle produced three players with Nebraska offers. Just one—Xavier Watts—chose to go elsewhere. He early enrolled at Notre Dame this January.
The current recruiting cycle is back up to five players with Nebraska offers but two—Avante Dickerson and Keagan Johnson—have elected to leave. The Huskers have a pair of in-state commitments from Teddy Prochazka and Heinrich Haarberg. Creighton Prep tight end AJ Rollins is the lone uncommitted target that holds an offer. The battles to lock down the borders for Coach Scott Frost and his staff seem to be getting more intense. Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud is the lead in-state recruiter.
"Yeah, absolutely, I think there's pressure here," Ruud said in March. "It's awesome when you get everybody. You don't ever want to see anybody leave your state to go play somewhere else. So, I think there's for sure pressure being that kind of lead guy at home here."
The 2022 group has the potential to be the toughest test yet. There are three Omaha prospects that are garnering national attention. Each has collected offers from coast to coast. Let’s take a look at what we know right now about where each is in their recruitment.
OT Deshawn Woods (Omaha Central)
The early 4-star stands at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds as he heads into his junior year of high school. Woods has good athleticism that allows him to be very good in pass protection. Schools started taking notice of him last November when he got his first offer from Iowa State. He has recently picked up offers from Texas A&M, LSU and Florida. He has been to Lincoln many times as a recruit and before that as a fan of the team.
OLB Devon Jackson (Omaha Burke)
If you aren’t familiar with the name Devon Jackson you will be very soon. He recently
came in as the No. 1 overall outside linebacker prospect in the country. Jackson (6-2, 200) has elite speed at the position which makes him a dream prospect for schools in need of pass rush. When thinking about the type of role he could have in Lincoln, think of the way JoJo Domann plays. Michigan is the latest school to offer the Burke star. Jackson visited Nebraska for the Northwestern matchup last season.
TE Micah Riley (Bellevue West)
The Omaha area has become a hotbed for tight ends recently. It started with Chris Hickman back in the 2019 cycle then really took off with Council Bluffs native Thomas Fidone in the current cycle. Bellevue West’s Micah Riley is up next. He is a good hybrid tight end prospect at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds with good athleticism and soft hands. He currently holds double-digit offers including Arizona State, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon. The communication he received from Nebraska has been consistent.
“Coach Ruud, he's a really nice guy,” Riley said. “He loves talking to me and finding different conversations. We will talk about the most random stuff but we connect a lot of ways. Same with [tight ends coach] Coach Beckton. I can't wait to get in the film room with him and start working and talking a little bit.”
There is a long way to go in his recruitment as he wants to take several visits to explore his options.
Nebraska will have its hands full trying to go three-for-three in the 2022 class. The good news is each should be feeling the love from the team since Nebraska has been recruiting them all hard for over a year. The guys are close and keep in contact about their recruitment. That will be an interesting wrinkle to keep an eye on.
The college football world is taking notice of the talent in Nebraska.
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.