Schools across the country are seeing the impact of losing spring football. The lost practices are an obvious disadvantage for everyone but so is the lost ability to host recruits for both official and unofficial visits. Normally at this time of year there would be a lot more clarity on which prospects are high-value targets for Nebraska and who had interest based on visits alone.
This cycle is more mysterious on the board but there are some major targets who stand out above the rest. There has been a good deal of movement on the list this month since Terrence Lewis (3), Avante Dickerson (4) and Keagan Johnson (7) all committed to other schools since our last installment.
If you aren’t familiar with the Greg’s Guys list, it’s my top 10 players in the class based on Nebraska’s needs, how a player fits in the scheme and talent. The list is always fluid and that’s what makes it fun.
1) TE Thomas Fidone (Council Bluffs, Iowa)
Last Rank: 1
Fidone of course keeps his grip on the top slot this month. Nothing has changed publicly with the nation’s No. 1 tight end. His recruitment could end up being one of the biggest in the country due to the circumstances surrounding it. Fidone has only visited Nebraska and Iowa out of his top six. The extended dead period could cause him to delay his decision into the season though since he wants to see other schools before making his decision. Any school recruiting him will gladly wait for the chance to host the talented playmaker.
225 Post workout
57in standing box jump pic.twitter.com/RASXWBroTZ
— Thomas Fidone II ²⁴ (@ThomasFidone) May 14, 2020
2) OLB TJ Bollers (Tiffin, Iowa)
Last Rank: 2
Bollers has been recruited as hard by Nebraska as any recruit this cycle. The Huskers have hosted him several times over the last two seasons. He is a major priority for defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. At the moment it appears that Wisconsin has all the momentum. The Badgers received the last visit from Bollers before the shutdown and they seem to meet the criteria of what he and his family are looking for. Bollers has built strong relationships with the staffs at Wisconsin, Iowa State and Nebraska who have all been in the picture for a long time. Alabama is a relative newcomer to the mix and it can be difficult for a defender to turn down Nick Saban. Not getting to visit Tuscaloosa this spring or summer might hurt the Tide but I wouldn’t count them out.
3) RB Amari Daniels (Miami, Florida)
Last Rank: 5
Nebraska continues to have a steady presence in the Sunshine State. The all-purpose running back that can be a threat as a runner and out of the backfield would be a big-time steal out of the state this cycle. However, the Huskers need to get him on campus. Daniels needs to be able to see for himself why former teammate Henry Gray and other Floridians have made the move to Lincoln. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher and running backs coach Ryan Held are doing what they can to keep the Huskers in this in the meantime but Texas A&M is a real player here given his relationship with Jimbo Fisher.
4) WR Jaylin Noel (Kansas City, Missouri)
Last Rank: 10
Noel is down to a final two of Iowa State and Nebraska. The Huskers pursuing him hard and he will likely decide without getting to take official visits. He had trips planned for June to check out the Cyclones and Huskers. He’s been to both places and likes both offenses.
“With Iowa State, they wanted me to play their M position,” Noel said. “At Nebraska, Coach Frost coming from a school like Oregon and running the offense there and seeing what he did with that offense is really cool. With him bringing that to Nebraska I feel like I could fit into that system and make a difference in the program. Also, at Nebraska the nutrition plus strength programs are top of the line. Iowa State is trying to make them better and they're doing new things to improve theirs. So those things were really like a big factor in like me choosing those two.”
Noel made a huge jump on the list this month because he’s a great program fit, is at a position of need and is in the 500-mile radius. The pass catcher from Missouri would be a welcome addition to the Husker recruiting class as the first wideout committed to Matt Lubick.
5) DE Ru'Quan Buckley (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Last Rank: 6
The Huskers are in a good position with the lineman following a big visit in January. There was hope that a summer official visit would shut down his recruitment. That June visit won’t happen but Buckley is still a priority target for the staff. Buckley is a lean prospect (6-6, 250) with plenty of room to add to his frame which gives him high upside at the college level. There is a thought that he could start at the Power Five level at either offensive or defensive line. He’s being recruited for each position by different colleges but the Huskers see him as a player for defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. Michigan State, TCU and Florida State have all shown increased interest in him during the shutdown.
6) OLB Christian Burkhalter (Spanish Fort, Alabama)
Last Rank: Unranked
A newcomer to the list, Burkhalter checks a lot of boxes that Nebraska is looking for. He has prototypical size for 3-4 outside linebacker since he stands at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. Burkhalter comes from good bloodlines since his dad played college football at Auburn and Alabama. The defender is also a multi-sport athlete that plays basketball and participates in track. He’s high on the Huskers who look to pull another quality player from the South.
— Christian Burkhalter (@Christianburk_) November 6, 2019
7) DE Tobechi Okoli (Kansas City, Missouri)
Last Rank: Unranked
Okoli is a quick-rising prospect in the region. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, the defensive end has seen his recruitment go to another level recently. He is raw since he hasn’t played football for very long but has tremendous athleticism. The Huskers offered early, last November while he was on campus. Okoli recently included NU in final eight schools.
The Huskers have had success in Kansas City in the past so landing Okoli could get things rolling in that area again for the program. He’s coached by former Husker Michael Rose-Ivey for a program that is on the rise.
8) ILB Seth Malcom (Tabor, Iowa)
Last Rank: 8
Malcom has one of the most unique stories of any player that Nebraska is recruiting this cycle. It’s rare for a prospect that plays eight-man football to garner this type of attention as he holds a handful of scholarship offers. The Iowa native projects as an inside linebacker and has been highly productive for his team totaling almost 200 tackles over the last two seasons. Prior to the dead period he hoped to pick a college before his senior season. He’s been able to visit Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa State so he could end up picking between them without an official visit.
9) OL Marcus Mbow (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Last Rank: 9
Mbow could be viewed as a “swing” lineman that could play either guard or tackle in college. He’s got great size (6-5, 285) and is a terrific athlete.
— Marcus Mbow (@MarcusMbow) May 16, 2020
The lineman from Wisconsin has had some bad luck trying to visit Nebraska. He was supposed to visit in January but a snowstorm kept him from making the trip. Then he was scheduled to visit in March and the COVID-19 restrictions hit. He had an official visit set for June but the recruiting dead period got extended. That’s frustrating but the Huskers have kept him as a priority. Mbow also has good rapport with the other linemen in the Huskers 2021 recruiting class which helps the team in their pursuit of him.
10) RB Trenten Howland (Joliet, Illinois)
Last Rank: Unranked
Running back has been a bit of a mystery. However, Howland was one of two running backs scheduled to come in for an official visit in June. I can see this being a cycle where Nebraska tries to take at least one running back with more size. Standing at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, the Illinois native fits the bill.
“What has me interested in the Huskers is how much they will help me develop as a player so I can be as good as I plan to be,” Howland said.
A physical runner that isn’t afraid of contact, Howland has the look of a Big Ten running back. His offer list reflects that with a handful of conference foes after 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.