The building of the 2021 recruiting class has been quite the unique situation.
We will end up going the entire cycle without having official visits. Many prospects will be making decisions on colleges without ever visiting all of their options that they have on the table. The coaches are making adjustments too. They are accepting commitments with less information than ever. There was no camp season for coaches to work with prospects. No evaluation period for coaches to get out to high schools and see prospects in person. Presumably there will be no in-home visits after the season either.
Despite all of those circumstances, the Huskers have put together a nice recruiting class. It has the chance to finish ranked in the top 20 once again. With the 2020 season set to get underway on Saturday, let’s take a look at how we got to this point and who is in the class.
There were some very talented quarterbacks with Husker offers this class. Early in the cycle, many thought that the Huskers would land 4-star Peter Costelli out of Mission Viejo, California. He surprisingly committed to Utah. The Huskers quickly pivoted to Nebraskan Heinrich Haarberg. He gave the Huskers their first in-state scholarship recruit since 2001.
We spent most of this cycle so far with running back being one of the bigger mysteries. It was difficult to narrow down who the Huskers were locked in on. Part of that is because the running back situation on campus is healthy. Ronald Thompkins, Rahmir Johnson, Sevion Morrison and Marvin Scott are all freshmen. Nebraska landed Georgia native Gabe Ervin who could end up being one of the steals of the class.
Perhaps no position group has seen the recruiting shift on the fly like Matt Lubick’s group. The Huskers set out to add size to the room and have succeeded. Nebraska was a prominent player for Keagan Johnson and Brody Brecht who each picked Iowa. Kansas City speedster Jaylin Noel picked Iowa State over Nebraska.
It’s hard to be upset about where the Huskers landed at the position though. Georgian Shawn Hardy (6-3, 190), Texan Latrell Neville (6-3, 200) and Florida native Kamonté Grimes (6-2, 185) were are all good additions.
This is a rare year in which tight end has been the most talked about position in the class. There is a mix of reasons for that. Nebraska pursued and landed the nation’s top tight end Thomas Fidone. The team identified Creighton Prep’s AJ Rollins as a priority target early and he’s part of the class. Then the storyline emerged of James Carnie working his way onto the Power 5 radar. He made himself impossible for the Huskers to ignore and he’s in the class. Having three talented players at the position in the class that are all very close to campus is huge.
The offensive linemen in the class have been part of the group for so long you almost forget them. Teddy Prochazka has been committed since Sept. 28, 2019. Henry Lutovsky committed November 17, 2019. Branson Yager committed back in April. That started a big run of verbal commitments for the Huskers. It’s a group that is high on potential with a lot of size.
The Huskers don’t have a defensive lineman in the class yet. There has been a run of commitments around the country. There are still plenty of targets left on the board for defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. We’ll discuss that more later in the week.
Both linebacker positions for Nebraska this cycle have been fluid. The Huskers made it a priority to fill up the recruiting board with several names. There are a couple players they didn’t land that sting. Alabama outside linebacker Christian Burkhalter was a Nebraska lean before Oregon swooped in. Nebraska hosted Florida native Danny Statusman early in the process. He picked Oklahoma. There is a lot to like about the group of Patrick Payton, Seth Malcom, Randolph Kpai and Mikai Gbayor. The team could still add one more to the group.
If I had to select a “most intriguing” group right now in the 2021 recruiting class, it would be the players being added to Travis Fisher’s room. If the ratings hold where they are, it will be the first time Fisher doesn’t add a 4-star to his room. Each player committed to play defensive back in the class is someone I would describe as under the radar. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though since Fisher trusts his evaluations. The careers of Koby Bretz, Marques Buford, Lardarius Webb and Malik Williams will be very interesting to follow.
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.