Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

California DE Mandela Tobin Looking for Blend of Academics, Football

August 24, 2020

The Huskers do not have a defensive lineman committed to the 2021 recruiting class at this point. Many of the team’s top targets at the position are still uncommitted, which is good while the team sorts out who fits best. One of those targets is 3-star (HV Rating: 80.0) defensive end Mandela Tobin‍. The California native has had a tough time through quarantine not being able to see his friends. The dead period also skewed his recruiting process but virtual tours have been helpful for him and his family.

Tobin (6-4, 270) has done a big virtual tour with Nebraska. He’s also done the virtual tours with Kansas, Kansas State, Nevada, Lehigh and Fresno State. There were several things that stood out to Tobin during his visit with Nebraska.

“Well, Nebraska is an interesting place because it has a lot of rich history football wise,” Tobin said. “I didn’t even know they had the most academic All-Americans in the country, so that was really impressive to me and my family. Seeing that, wow that’s crazy. For us, being Nigerian, we are huge about academics because that’s what’s really going to lead your life. Football can only go so far, so that’s the biggest thing with us. We’re really looking for if they can give us that top quality education.

“The fanbase is just ecstatic all the time never giving up or anything like that. It’s very important. Just to see that you have Coach [Scott] Frost in there. The program’s looking really good now, they’re on the rise. So, it’s pretty exciting to see what they have in store for me if I went there.”

Tobin has described his relationship with the Nebraska staff as strong. He thinks they are doing a very good job recruiting him and said that their consistency with everything stands out. Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander texts him the most but he also hears from running backs coach Ryan Held and defensive line coach Tony Tuioti often. Tobin also likes being able to check in with Frost.

It can be difficult to pull recruits off the coast where there have spent their entire lives. But the defensive end thinks it might be good to get a change of scenery for college.

“For me, it’s not really a case of distance,” Tobin said. “I’m just looking for a school that can bring both academics and football to the table. That’s what I’m really looking for in a school. Maybe starting fresh somewhere else could be the way to go for me because I’ve lived here in San Diego all my life. I’m a California guy and maybe just seeing some new things other than just like sunny skies all the time and beautiful beaches.

“I just want to see how it is in the rest of America. The distance is not really a big deal to me.”

The Huskers sent Tobin a huge package of information last week that he posted on social media.

What caught his eye the most?

“The first 30 pages of the packet with the stadium and all the fans and the players running out. It’s amazing,” Tobin said. “I showed my mom and she was really, really impressed. Just the amount of fans that overwhelm the stadium like that is crazy. For me, it’s definitely really cool to see that. I think that’s what really stood out the most to me.

“But I also saw the community support which I also like as well. You always have to have some sort of community and everything. The weight room and all that just typical stuff. Especially being a lineman, the weight room is mostly where you live. Besides being on the field doing pass rush and all that so those qualities. Oh, of course, Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union. That was also pretty cool to see as well.”

Tobin and his family are looking for that perfect balance of academics and football. Tobin is confident that he has what it takes to play big-time Division I football. He wants big-time academics to match. Good campus life outside of the school is important too. Now that California is pushing the start of high school football to the spring he is thinking about the timeline for his college decision.

“I was planning later this year or early next year. Now it looks like we may have to have an earlier date for my commitment,” Tobin said. “I’m looking maybe early to mid-fall now. I don’t know specific dates of when I’m going to come out with my top six or top five or my commitment date yet but that’s kind of the timeframe my family and I are looking at right now just because of what’s going on.”

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