It’s August, which means the latest edition of Greg’s Guys is here. We’re also moving the monthly list to the first Tuesday of each month, so mark your calendars.
While it hasn’t been long since the last list came out, there have still been some big changes. That includes four players from the last top 10 that have now committed to their schools of choice. Defensive end Tobechi Okoli committed to Auburn, outside linebacker Christian Burkhalter committed to Oregon and offensive lineman Marcus Mbow pledged to Arizona State. The Huskers did add the No. 8 player in defensive back Malik Williams.
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
The No. 1 spot on the list remains unchanged. If anything, Fidone has solidified himself as one of the best recruits that Coach Scott Frost has a chance to land during his time at Nebraska. The Council Bluffs native had a dominating performance at the Warren Academy Showcase, which was highlighted by some incredible catches.
It wasn’t just the catches that stood out though.
Had a pretty smooth one-handed sideline catch off a double move at one point today.
4-star TE Thomas Fidone was as advertised as a pass-catcher. Really impressed by his physicality in-person. Top guy on the #Huskers board for a reason. pic.twitter.com/cCDzwTY7B2
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) July 25, 2020
Fidone did not have to attend that camp but did because of the type of competitor he is.
“There’s no replacement for competition,” he told Hail Varsity. “That’s kind of what my coaches have always said. Wherever there’s competition and wherever there’s a place I can get some work in, that’s where I’m gonna be. So, just wanted to come out and grind it out with some of the best of the best.”
As for his recruitment, I still have LSU as the biggest threat to the Huskers. However, the canceled LSU versus Texas matchup that he wanted to take an official visit for is now off. Everyone is letting the tight end play the process out how he wants.
2) DE Ru’Quan Buckley (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Last Rank: 3
The Michigan defender is becoming a more important target for the Huskers by the week, especially since they have yet to land a defensive end in the 2021 recruiting class. Also, one of the team’s top targets at the position—Tobechi Okoli—recently committed to Auburn. Nebraska has hosted Buckley for a visit and he has a strong relationship with defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. We are still waiting to see if the Huskers can move the needle enough with Buckley to get a commitment before the start of the season.
3) OLB Wynden Ho’ohuli (Mililani, Hawaii)
Last Rank: Unranked
Nebraska has a history of landing players from Hawaii but haven’t been able to bring any in recently. Ho’ohuli (6-3, 215) represents the best chance to get back on the board in the 2021 cycle. A rangy outside linebacker, Ho’ohuli has a great frame to add muscle without losing explosion. He’s an aggressive player that fits the mold of what defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is looking for on his defense. The Hawaii native has been a mystery throughout the process but the Huskers have quietly been making a move with him.
4) RB Tavierre Dunlap (Del Valle, Texas)
Last Rank: 4
Dunlap is a dynamic playmaker from the Lone Star State. The Huskers made the cut for him down to eight schools last month. He’s been very productive for Del Valle High School, amassing 3,000 yards and 37 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Dunlap fits perfectly in the type of high-powered rushing attack Frost and run game coordinator Greg Austin would like to feature.
5) DE Mandela Tobin (San Diego, California)
Last Rank: 6
Things are shifting quickly around the lone California native on the list. His state has moved football to the spring, throwing his recruitment for a loop. 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, as well as Kansas, Kansas State, Nevada, Lehigh and Fresno State. Tobin is taking everything in stride but all the changes are altering his decision timeline.
“I was planning later this year or early next year,” he said. “Now it looks like we may have to have an earlier date for my commitment. I’m looking maybe early to mid-fall now.”
Tobin is an intriguing prospect with high upside if the Huskers can pull him off the West Coast.
6) RB Cam’ron Valdez (Rockdale, Texas)
Last Rank: Unranked
Valdez would make a great choice in the race to become the Huskers’ second running back in this recruiting cycle. He’s more of a home-run hitter (5-10, 187) but he is not afraid to mix it up between the tackles. As a junior, Valdez carried 183 times for 1,697 yards and 26 touchdowns. That followed a sophomore season that saw him run for 1,175 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Huskers made the cut to seven for the talented Texan. That list also included Arizona State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Texas Tech and Utah. Valdez planned to get to Lincoln but those plans have been on hold indefinitely.
I feel like this play made me. pic.twitter.com/V1CJ5VSOpr
— CamronValdez³ (@CMVlll) August 2, 2020
7) TE AJ Rollins (Omaha, Nebraska)
Last Rank: 7
Things change fast in the world of recruiting. Rollins is in an interesting spot as it relates to Nebraska recruiting. The coaching staff has coveted Rollins for a long time after offering him a scholarship last summer after a good camp performance. However, Rollins has been content to take his time with the recruiting process.
Other tight end targets have emerged for the Huskers, namely Norris prospect James Carnie, which could put some pressure on Rollins to make a choice sooner than later. Rollins has been working hard this offseason and could have a big senior year for Creighton Prep.
8) DE Derek Wilkins (Rancho Santa Margarita, California)
Last Rank: Unranked
Wilkins just missed the cut to be included on the July list. He has a similar build (6-4, 250) and athleticism to the other two defensive ends that are on the list. The wildcard here is that Wilkins has been able to see Lincoln for himself. He made it out to Lincoln for a Junior Day back in January. The Huskers are locked in a battle with California schools for the talented lineman who could be looking to stay out West.
Edit: @Hayesfawcett3 pic.twitter.com/hXzGwsyzLr
— D🚂 (@derekwilkinss) July 17, 2020
9) RB Audric Estime (Montvale, New Jersey)
Last Rank: 9
The New Jersey power back (6-1, 220) has gone quiet since releasing his top five schools. That group included Nebraska, Rutgers, Arizona State, Michigan State and Virginia Tech. Estime is a talented back that is physically ready to play college football when he steps onto a college campus.
Two big questions loom with him though. First, can anyone get him away from Greg Schiano who is selling his vision of rebuilding Rutgers? Second, what type of back do the Huskers want to pair with Gabe Ervin in the 2021 class? Those are the big keys to landing Estime for the Huskers.
10) OL Geno VanDeMark (Montvale, New Jersey)
Last Rank: Unranked
The Huskers don’t have to take a fourth offensive lineman in the 2021 recruiting class. They already have three verbal commitments from players they like quite a bit. If Austin is going to make a strong case for another player at his position group, it would be for the New Jersey native. At 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds, VanDeMark could make for a quality eventual successor to Cam Jurgens at center. It’ll be tough to pull him out of his home state but he’s worth chasing.
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.