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Greg's Guys | Huskers 2020
Photo Credit: Quentin Lueninghoener

Greg’s Guys: Turning the Page to Talented 2022 Group for Nebraska

February 02, 2021

Greg’s Guys is back! With National Signing Day here, the 2021 recruiting class is coming to an end. That means it’s time to turn the page to 2022.

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 player also needs to be interested in the Huskers. The best example of that is Omaha Burke 4-star outside linebacker Devon Jackson. He’s not on the initial 2022 list based on interest level in Nebraska but could make a move up if that changes.

The 2022 class is another talented group within the region. Seven of the initial 10 players are within 500-miles of campus.

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) ATH Brenan Thompson (Spearman, Texas)

If Scott Frost could create a player for the Duck-R position, it would look a lot like Thompson. The Texas playmaker (5-10, 165) is an electric athlete. He might be the fastest 2022 player in Texas with a verified 10.32 100m dash. The Huskers made the cut in his most recent top group list. Alabama looked like the team to beat but with Steve Sarkisian taking his offense to Texas, I expect the Longhorns to make a big push. The Huskers have their work cut out for them but getting Thompson to campus is a must.

2) DB Xavier Nwankpa (Des Moines, Iowa)

Give the Huskers some credit for identifying Nwankpa’s (6-2, 190) talent early. They hosted him for a visit during his sophomore year long before he became a national recruit. He’s gotten better each year of high school and is now one of the top defensive backs in the nation. His offer list reflects that. Ohio State is the favorite in this recruitment. He also holds offers from Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, USC and Texas A&M. It will not be easy for the Huskers to hang in this one but Nwankpa is the type of talent you fight for until he commits.

3) QB MJ Morris (Atlanta, Georgia)

One of the top quarterbacks the team is recruiting for 2022 is Georgia 4-star MJ Morris. The Pace Academy star out of Atlanta has racked up quite the offer list. He holds 34 offers from schools in every Power Five conference. He speaks often with Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.

“I love them,” Morris said. “I love how much they know about the game and about quarterbacks. That’s kind of what I’m looking for. Coaches who know a lot about quarterbacks and then just who is going to just care about me as a person too and not just as a football player. So, I’d say that we’ve built a solid relationship.”

Morris will be a tough pull out of the South. He counts Stanford, Florida, Miami, Auburn and Alabama as the other schools recruiting him the hardest currently.

4) WR Quinton Conley (Kansas City, Missouri)

The big-bodied (6-5, 190) wideout has been recruited by Nebraska for a couple years. He has visited Nebraska several times already including the Big Red BBQ, Junior Days and for games. The Huskers were his first offer. Conley has always held Nebraska in high regard. Important to get into Kansas City. Iowa State and Arizona State are making a push but the Huskers are in a good spot with Conley.

5) DB James Monds III (Fort Pierce, Florida)

The Florida defensive back (5-10, 177) is a Husker legacy with his uncle Walter Monds playing at Nebraska in the 1970s. He released a top 13 group of Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Clemson, Miami, Kansas State, Indiana, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Kansas and Mississippi State. Monds is a talented cornerback and standout soccer player at Fort Pierce High School.

6) OL Deshawn Woods (Omaha, Nebraska)

Woods’ recruitment is really quiet for a lineman with his skills and character. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds he could project to either tackle or guard at the college level. Not getting to play a junior season slowed down his recruitment as he has not picked up many new offers recently. He does have early offers from Florida, Texas A&M, Arizona State and Nebraska. When I spoke with him over the summer at the Warren Academy Showcase, he broke down why he loves playing offensive line.

“My favorite part of playing offensive line is that I have somebody to protect,” Woods said at the time. “I’m big on that with my family, I love to protect. I just like to be the person to protect somebody. If I’m able to protect you then I feel like I accomplished something.”

Nebraska is in good position with Woods but his recruitment could really take off with a strong senior season.

7) TE Kaden Helms (Bellevue, Nebraska)

The Bellevue West standout tight end (6-5, 220) has had a fast rise up recruiting boards. On July 31, the Huskers were his first offer. Now he holds close to 20 offers, including Iowa, Oklahoma, Michigan and Florida State. The Huskers did well to identify him early and get a jump on the relationship. Helms is a hard-worker with the athleticism to match. It will be key if Nebraska can get an early visit when dead period is lifted.

8) DT Domonique Orange (Kansas City, Missouri)

The Huskers have quietly been recruiting Orange for a while now. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, he has the size to play nose tackle in the Huskers’ 3-4 defense. Orange also has the versatility to bounce outside to a 5-technique defensive end too. The Kansas City native is becoming more popular within the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Iowa are his most recent offers.

9) TE Micah Riley (Bellevue, Nebraska)

The other half of the dynamic tight end duo at Bellevue West is also one of the hottest tight end prospects in the region. Arizona State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa and Nebraska are among the schools recruiting him hardest right now. Nebraska’s tight end usage in 2020 helps the Huskers with Riley. A decision is not close as he wants to see more schools once the dead period is lifted. I’d say his recruitment is pretty wide open at this point.

10) OLB Caden Crawford (Lansing, Kansas)

Crawford is a big, versatile OLB standing at 6-foot-5 and 239 pounds. He’s a physical player that reminds me some of Blaise Gunnerson coming out of high school a couple years ago. When I caught up with Crawford during his season he noted that he is in constant communication with Nebraska and the relationship is going well.

“Ever since they offered me I’ve talked to [area recruiter] Coach Held probably every week since,” Crawford said. We just talk about how I’m doing, how everything is going, how the team is doing and my family too. Then ever since recruiting opened up I’ve talked with [outside linebackers] Coach Dawson a little bit. The defensive coordinator Coach Chinander too and it’s been really good.”

Iowa and Kansas State are the main competition for the Huskers for Crawford.

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