It has been an extraordinarily busy time in Husker recruiting for the last week. Nebraska added Vaha Vainuku, a graduate transfer defensive tackle with two years of eligibility, JUCO interior lineman Desmond Bland, 4-star quarterback Luke McCaffrey, JUCO cornerback Will Jackson, who will join the team next month, and 3-star linebacker Jackson Hannah all since last Friday. While all of that was happening, the Huskers hosted some important targets. The staff is also busy hosting camps in Lincoln and attending them in St Louis, Atlanta and Miami. There is a lot of ground to cover so let’s get to the Recon.
Desmond Bland, offensive lineman, Yuma, Arizona
Thomas Grayson, running back, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Jackson Hannah, linebacker, Nashville, Tennesee
Rahmir Johnson, running back, Oradell, New Jersey
Luke McCaffrey, quarterback, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Garrett Nelson, defensive end, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Ethan Piper, defensive tackle, Norfolk, Nebraska
Garrett Snodgrass, athlete, York, Nebraska
>>This week, Nebraska made a 2020 linebacker offer that caught my eye. Ben Kreul (6-3, 220) from Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, picked up his first Big Ten offer this week. The defender hasn’t been talking to the Huskers long but I caught up with him after he received the Nebraska offer.
"I was just in shock," Kreul said. "I was honored and thrilled to say the least. It’s my first Big Ten offer . . . I know Nebraska with their new coach, Coach [Scott] Frost, they will be on their way up so it was a big honor for me.”
Kruel won’t be able to attend any of Nebraska’s camps this month but he told me that he wants to get to Lincoln before the season starts for an unofficial visit or for a game this fall. He told me while his recruiting process is open, he has solid interest in Nebraska.
“To start, they are a Big Ten school so that’s huge," Kreul said. "Obviously Coach Frost was really good at UCF so that drew me in. Coach [Barrett] Ruud is the one I’ve been talking to so I did some research on him and he was a really good linebacker. With him being the linebackers coach, that has me fired up knowing that I’d have someone that’s been in this position and knows exactly what I’m going through.”
We talk a lot now about a player and their “fit” within the Nebraska program under Frost. When I asked Kreul what he was most looking for in a school, his answer seems to fall in line with what the Huskers are looking for and pitching to prospects.
“Academics plays a big role," he said. "Coaching staff and the feeling of the team. I want a team that feels like a family, somewhere I can talk to everyone. A coaching staff I can get along with and talk to, but I’m pushed and they can yell at me to give me good coaching.”
>>Another 2020 offer that caught my eye this week was to 4-star running back (HV Rating: 90.3) Darvon Hubbard (6-0, 200) from Scottsdale, Arizona. After putting his tape on, it was clear to see that he is going to be a very highly thought of recruit next year. I caught up with him and learned it was yet another surprise offer from the Huskers.
“I was in shock. I had never really talked to anyone from Nebraska," Hubbard said. "They called my head coach and then I called the guys and thanked them and everything. It was a very cool experience. I always looked at Nebraska since Ameer Abdullah was there as a good, well-thought-of team that is now on the rise.”
Hubbard is originally from Akron, Ohio, in the heart of Big Ten country, and has only been in Arizona for 10 months. He tells me that the education has to be there and he wants to feel at home at his future university as well. He mentioned Dalvin Cook as his favorite running back and who he patterns his game after along with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. He did mention camp plans as well.
“I’ve got the Ohio State camp. Also, Tennessee camp possibly. Then Michigan and Michigan State. I’m definitely going to try to hit a Nebraska camp. If I can’t, I’ll come to a game or come out in July," Hubbard said.
>>Last Friday afternoon, the Huskers offered offensive lineman Michael Lynn (6-7, 280) from Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado. I did a story on him after the spring game in which he was blown away by his visit and by Husker fans.
I reached back out to him after he got his offer to see where Nebraska now ranks in his recruitment.
“I love it up there and honestly they’re top-three maybe even leading the race right now.”
Lynn says he will definitely let his recruitment play out into the season. That’s actually a good thing because I don’t believe he has a committable offer at the moment. So if he is willing to wait to see how things play out with the class, he has a better shot of ending up in Lincoln. Since he is from Colorado, I did ask him his thoughts on Luke McCaffrey committing to Nebraska and if the Colorado prospects were taking notice.
“Definitely," Lynn said. "He’s such a good player and an even better person. Nebraska really got a steal with him.”
>>Speaking of Nebraska’s QB commit for the 2019 class, I asked Luke McCaffrey about his impact on Colorado recruiting for Nebraska and if he will be a peer recruiter.
“Colorado has some great, talented guys and a lot of them would be a great fit for Nebraska," he said. "Anything to help them get to Lincoln is helpful. I’m not sure the exact impact that I personally have on them but it is worth it to at least try.”
McCaffrey is being modest because his impact is going to be felt pretty quickly. Between he and Tate Wildeman, Nebraska has two very well-known players that other prospects from the state will want to follow. That could not have come at a better time because the Huskers are recruiting multiple players, particularly on the offensive and defensive line, from the Centennial State.
>>It seems like we have all been waiting for Pima (Ariz.) Community College defensive tackle Tony Fair to make his announcement after it seemed eminent that he would be announcing for Nebraska. I’m told there was a hold up in making his commitment video and there has been a little bit of pause from him after Nebraska added Vaha Vainuku to the mix. Right now, the choice is still expected to be Nebraska and could come any day.
>>This week Nebraska hosted its individual camps. A good portion of the staff was able to stay in Lincoln to run the camp. One player that made the trip to Lincoln to unofficially visit was 3-star (HV rating: 87.5) 2020 wide receiver Jaxon Smith. The pass-catcher from Rockwall, Texas, was very excited to get his offer and looking forward to interacting with the staff. I asked him about who his main point of contact has been in Lincoln.
“Coach [Troy] Walters, the receivers coach. I call him almost once a week. I like him a lot. He definitely knows his football. He’s familiar with the game having played in the NFL and Pac-10. I know that he knows what he is doing,” Smith said.
Knowing that he came to Lincoln to interact with the staff, how did Smith feel things went after getting face to face time with the staff?
“I liked it a lot. That’s why I came to Lincoln. To get to know some players and the coaches. It was cool to get to know their style, especially watching camp I could see how they coach. The way they acted and treated me was really good.”
Smith tells me that he has a busy summer planned with a lot of camp visits but he knows for sure that he will be in Lincoln this fall for an unofficial visit for a game.
“I’m about to go to Iowa State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas A&M and then we will see what else pops up," Smith said. "I’m definitely coming back in the fall, I have to see the Nebraska atmosphere, the best in the country, so I’ll definitely be back in the fall.”
>>One more 2020 running back to keep an eye on. I got a tipped off to Brendon Holmes (5-8, 175) from Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, when he got his offer from Nebraska. It’s his first Division I offer so Ryan Held is way out in front on this one. He’s small but a dynamic running back. He has a verified 4.4 40-yard dash and ran for 1,295 yards with 18 touchdowns as a sophomore. Keep him in mind when he blows up later and is mentioning that Nebraska was the first to take the plunge with 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.