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Greg’s Guys
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Greg’s Guys: Running Backs on the Rise for Huskers

June 17, 2020

The Huskers’ recruiting big board is starting to settle. It’s helped that there has been a lot of movement with commits. This cycle has seen a high number of early commitments, even as players can’t take visits to colleges in-person due to the dead period. Four of the players on last month’s list have committed: TJ Bollers (2), Jaylin Noel (4), Seth Malcom (8) and Trenten Howland (10). Malcom was the lone player to pick Nebraska. 

This month had some big movement with one player shooting all the way up to No. 2 and several players making their debut on the list.

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 continues to hold down the No. 1 spot on the list. He’s played his recruitment pretty close to the vest during the dead period. However, sources indicate that LSU is making a move for the talented pass catcher from Council Bluffs. Still, the longer the dead period goes on the more it settles in that he has only been to Nebraska and Iowa from his top group. It could come down to those two schools with everyone else chasing. Fidone seems in no hurry to decide but has continued his work to improve this offseason. 

2) DE Tobechi Okoli‍ (Kansas City, Missouri)

Last Rank: 7

Nebraska is safely in the top eight for Okoli, which includes Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Michigan, Georgia, Auburn and Kentucky. The Huskers have an advantage at this point because they are one of the few schools that Okoli has visited. His coaches—including former Husker Michael Rose-Ivey—think he is just scratching the surface of his potential. 

“His [junior] film is probably 50 or 60% of what I think is what he's going be this upcoming season,” Rose-Ivey told Hail Varsity. “He's still learning the game which is always great for coaches because coaches are in the business of developing. 

“You get a big lump of clay like that where you can mold and develop really to what you want. He hasn't really played football so you're not really having to break down bad habits but building the foundation.”

The Huskers have continued the strong communication with Okoli. He just might be the top defensive target remaining on the board.

3) WR Latrell Neville‍ (Houston, Texas)

Last Rank: Unranked

The Huskers are pretty tight on room for wide receivers in this class even though they have just one committed right now. Neville, a former Virginia Tech commit, is a name that Husker fans are getting familiar with quickly. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he has the size to make his presence felt in the Big Ten. He has a lot of potential to reach after playing in a run heavy offense during his junior season. He’s set to make a college decision on July 4 with the Huskers hoping for fireworks out of Texas. 


4) RB Tavierre Dunlap‍ (Del Valle, Texas)

Last Rank: Unranked

The Huskers’ renewed focus in Texas led them to Tavierre Dunlap. At 6-foot and 196 pounds, he seems to fit the mold of a back with more size that Nebraska is looking for this cycle. He’s been very productive for Del Valle High School the last two seasons too, racking up almost 3,000 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield and hauled in 20 receptions as a junior. The secret is out on Dunlap as he’s been a hot recruit in recent weeks. His offer list has swelled as Notre Dame, Michigan, Mississippi State and plenty of others.


5) DE Ru'Quan Buckley‍ (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Last Rank: 5

Buckley is the defensive lineman that Nebraska has been linked to most frequently. He’s a good athlete that has been recruited to play both sides of the ball by colleges. The Huskers like him as an end in their 3-4 defense. He has a great relationship with defensive line coach Tony Tuioti but other schools are trying to make a move. The Michigan native is hearing more from Minnesota and Michigan State these days. He’s still a Husker lean but it’d be helpful to get him back on campus as soon as possible.

6) OLB Christian Burkhalter‍ (Spanish Fort, Alabama)

Last Rank: 6

The Huskers have done very well recruiting linebackers this cycle. They have a pair of outside linebackers committed with Patrick Payton and Will Schweitzer but they would still add one more if it’s the right prospect. Burkhalter fits the bill. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he has a great frame and athleticism to match his size. So far, he’s held firm on wanting to visit Lincoln before deciding on a college but the Huskers are in a strong position. The team also offered his brother a preferred walk-on spot at quarterback.

7) RB Gabe Ervin‍ (Buford, Georgia)

Last Rank: Unranked

The Huskers have done well in Georgia since Coach Scott Frost and his staff took over the program in Lincoln. There has been at least one Georgia native in every class since this staff arrived. Ervin (6-0, 200) would make for a great fit as another player from the Peach State. The runner played a big role in helping his team to a Class 5A state championship last season. He has a top five that includes Nebraska, Michigan State, Georgia, Arizona State and Duke. However, he continues to add offers and picked up one from Michigan recently. He’s a powerful runner who doesn’t go down easy on first contact.


8) TE Erik Olsen‍ (Littleton, Colorado)

Last Rank: Unranked

The athletic tight end from Colorado would make a a great duo with Fidone if the Huskers can land both. Olsen recently cut his list down to five and Nebraska made the cut. One cool wrinkle in his recruitment is that he is quite familiar with Nebraska. In fact, there is a strong family history with the school.

“My mom went to Nebraska and both my aunts went there,” Olsen said. “Three of my cousins went there. One of them is going on right now and two of them have gone through it. I have a lot of family lives in Omaha and some family lives out west in Nebraska. I'm always out there going out to Omaha and going to games in Lincoln.”

Olsen visited Nebraska for the Northwestern matchup last year. The Huskers certainly hope they are able to host him early in the season.

9) RB Audric Estime‍ (Montvale, New Jersey)

Last Rank: Unranked

Running back has been tough to figure out for the Huskers this cycle. Nebraska doesn’t have a running back commit yet but there are a few names that stand out above the rest. New Jersey running back Audric Estime is one that the Huskers have had on their list for quite a while. He is college ready physically at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. Estime is a powerful runner but also shows good vision and hands. If the Huskers can pull him off the East Coast, it would be a major win.

10) OL Marcus Mbow‍ (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Last Rank: 9

Mbow and the Huskers have been linked since January when he was scheduled to visit Lincoln but a snowstorm kept him away. At 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, he has the frame and athleticism to play guard or tackle at the college level. The dead period did not slow down his recruitment. If anything, things have picked up for the Wisconsin native with new offers from West Virginia, Indiana and Arizona in recent weeks. Those offers could push back his timeline for a decision. Mbow has been active on social media with the other Husker commits so we know he fits in well with the group.

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