We are essentially at half time of recruiting for the 2018 cycle now that we are coming out of the other side of the early signing period. Given Nebraska’s unique situation, the Huskers came out very well with their early signing period haul. Nebraska was able to get NLIs from 11 of its 14 commits with one more expected to come in Friday from Justin McGriff. The Huskers also added three new names to the commit list that were not there prior to the early signing period started in linebacker Will Honas, running back Greg Bell and wide receiver/tight end Katerian Legrone.
Scott Frost talked on Wednesday about not wanting to fill the class up just for the sake of doing it and that is the right strategy. In these transition classes, you don’t want to reach to just hit certain numbers. If you can hit on a handful of prospects from the class, the staff has done well given the circumstances.
David Alston, 3-star linebacker, St. Paul, Minnesota
Greg Bell 3-star running back, Yuma, Arizona
Will Farniok, 3-star offensive lineman, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Will Honas, 3-star linebacker, El Dorado, Kansas
Cameron Jurgens, 4-star tight end, Beatrice, Nebraska
Katerian Legrone, 3-star tight end, Atlanta, Georgia
Masry Mapieu, 3-star defensive tackle, York, Nebraska
Adrian Martinez, 4-star quarterback, Fresno, California
Justin McGriff, 3-star wide receiver, Tampa, Florida
Barret Pickering, 2-star kicker, Birmingham, Alabama
C.J. Smith, 4-star defensive back, West Palm Beach, Florida
Tate Wildeman, 3-star defensive lineman, Parker, Colorado
Deontai Williams, 3-star defensive back, Ellisville, Mississippi
Jaron Woodyard, 3-star JUCO wide receiver, Yuma, Arizona
>> Nebraska is getting eight early enrollees from the 2018 recruiting class and it cannot be said enough how big of a deal that is for those incoming players. Martinez, Honas, Williams, Woodyard, McGriff, Legrone, Farniok, Bell and Pickering will all be on campus in January. Going through the first winter conditioning and spring ball with this new coaching staff will keep them all on more equal footing heading into the 2018 season. Expect most of the guys listed push for early playing time.
>>There was a lot made of this staff’s ability to organize their recruiting efforts and hit the ground running, which was well-earned. It’s also time to salute the staff for their closing ability. In two official visit weekends Nebraska hosted a total of 14 recruits, and just one was already committed in Wildeman. Nebraska then successfully closed on eight of the 13 visitors that were not already committed to the school.
The three players they lost out on, RB Josh Fleeks, WR Jeshaun Jones and ATH Marcus Riley were all long-time commits elsewhere when they visited Lincoln. If you dive deeper, it took a heroic effort by Baylor to keep Fleeks in the fold, sending their entire coaching staff to his school and Riley silently committed to Nebraska on his visit then backed out at the last minute.
As I write this, Nebraska is still awaiting a decision by official visitors tight end Messiah Swinson and defensive back Cam Jones. Swinson is expected to sign with Missouri and Nebraska is the favorite for Jones. This is all very encouraging as Nebraska looks to host some big visit weekends in January to finish the class.
>>One Nebraska commit that isn’t getting talked about a lot is McGriff. The UCF flip has great size (6-6, 210) and could develop into a real weapon in the Frost offense. For more insight into his game, I reached out to Jeremy Earle the former head coach at Jefferson High School in Tampa where McGriff played. When I asked him about McGriff’s fit in college and his skill-set, he told me this.
“Justin was a dynamic, dominant player for us with a huge upside. His huge frame gives the Nebraska coaching staff so many options of where to play him. It will be interesting to see what he grows in to.”
That last line really stuck out to me. A couple of years with Zach Duval will work wonders for McGriff who has huge sleeper potential.
>>I’ve written quite a bit about how JUCOs are back at Nebraska now and how it’s about getting the right fit and talent. Let’s take a look at the talent for a second.
Nebraska signed the No. 1 junior college inside linebacker (Honas), the No. 1 running back (Bell), the No. 1 safety (Williams) and the No. 2 wide receiver (Woodyard). The Huskers signed perhaps the top crop of JUCO players in the country after not being on the radar for any of them prior to this staff taking over the program. That’s a great sign of things to come when they have more time to build relationships with top JUCO talent moving forward.
>>One last note on the quarterback, Martinez. Remember the national pundits and UCF fans that told you it would be too difficult to recruit to Nebraska. Or that it would be easier to recruit at UCF? We already have our first case study to disprove that silly notion. When Scott Frost was asked about the recruitment of his prized QB on Wednesday here was part of his response.
“When I was evaluating quarterbacks for this class a long time ago, Adrian Martinez was my favorite guy in the country. We didn’t think we had a chance to get him at our previous school, but now getting to Nebraska, he was interested.”
Frost acknowledging there are prospects that are now open to them that were not at UCF should make Husker fans excited for the type of talent and fits he can get to Lincoln to continue the revival of Big Red football.
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.