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JUCO DT Tony Fair Has the Highest of Praise for Scott Frost
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Huskers Off to Strong Start with In-State Recruiting

March 06, 2018

On Monday afternoon, Norfolk Catholic lineman Ethan Piper‍  announced his commitment to Nebraska, making him the third player in the Huskers’ 2019 class. All three of those players (the others being York athlete Garrett Snodgrass and Scottsbluff outside linebacker Garrett Nelson) are local prospects.

Three in-state scholarship recruits already matches the high for any class in the last seven years, and the Huskers aren’t even close to done yet with that class. Nebraska already has offers out to the Omaha Burke duo of linebacker Nick Henrich‍  and tight end Chris Hickman‍ (both of whom have double-digit Division I offers) and there are a handful of others that could earn offers from the Huskers as well.

Among the lineman with upside are Omaha Creighton Prep’s Luke Sims and Ryan Bena, Omaha North’s Mekhi Butler and Wahoo Neumann’s Caden Johnson. There are a couple of very different but still intriguing running backs in Omaha North’s Zander Gray and Norfolk Catholic’s Dylan Kautz. There are a handful of perimeter skill players (wideouts, defensive backs, athletes) in Lincoln North Star’s Luke Reimer, Omaha Burke’s James Burks and Gio Mainor and Lincoln High’s Morgan Perry. Lincoln High also has the best quarterback prospect in Nebraska in Cedric Case.

Those are just a handful of names on Nebraska’s radar for what could be a tremendous in-state 2019 class. How does this class stack up to the last several? I took a look at all of the local players that accepted scholarships (and made it to campus) to either Nebraska or other Power Five schools since 2008, Bo Pelini’s first year in Lincoln.

In 2018, Beatrice tight end Cameron Jurgens was the only local commit who signed with Nebraska. York nose tackle Masry Mapieu committed to Nebraska but is headed to Iowa Western Community College. Lincoln Southeast defensive tackle Bryson Williams stuck with his pledge to Wisconsin after a late push by Scott Frost’s staff.

In 2017, Mike Riley’s staff signed the only three Power Five recruits in Nebraska: Aurora tight end Austin Allen, Lincoln East lineman Chris Walker and Bellevue West running back Jaylin Bradley.

In 2016, Riley and company signed Ashland-Greenwood defensive end Ben Stille and Norfolk Catholic tight end David Engelhaupt. They missed out on tight ends Jared Bubak (Arizona State from Lincoln Christian) and Noah Fant (Iowa from Omaha South). Nick Lenners, a tight end from Lincoln Southwest, signed with Kansas State and never had a Nebraska offer.

In 2015, Mike Riley’s first class at Nebraska, the Huskers held on to Omaha Central defensive end DaiShon Neal and Omaha North offensive lineman Michael Decker. Seward lineman Adam Holtorf went to Kansas State, the only Power Five school that offered him.

In 2014, Nebraska signed a terrific in-state class with the duo out of Lincoln Southeast — offensive lineman Jerald Foster and athlete Luke Gifford — as well as Gretna defensive lineman Mick Stoltenberg. However, the Huskers didn’t get Millard West defensive lineman Harrison Phillips as he ended up at Stanford.

In 2013, Lincoln Southwest linebacker and Husker legacy Josh Banderas was the only in-state signee. His teammate Christian LaCouture chose LSU while Howells-Dodge defensive lineman Nathan Bazata signed with Iowa.

2012 was similar to 2013 with Lincoln Southeast tight end and Husker legacy Sam Cotton choosing the Huskers while Giltner lineman Drew Ott signing with Iowa and Lincoln Southwest quarterback Tay Bender signing with Kansas State.

Nebraska landed eight of the nine in-state Power Five prospects in 2011 and 2010 with four commits in each class.

In 2011, Nebraska brought in offensive linemen Ryne Reeves (Crete) and Zach Sterup (Hastings St. Cecilia), Beatrice cornerback Daniel Davie and Lincoln Southeast tight end David Sutton. Millard North linebacker Cole Fisher, the younger brother of Husker Sean Fisher, chose Iowa.

In 2010, all four Power Five prospects signed with the Huskers — Aurora offensive lineman Andrew Rodriguez, Lincoln Southeast offensive lineman Jake Cotton, Waverly wide receiver Tyler Evans and Millard South quarterback Bronson Marsh (who grayshirted).

In 2009, Nebraska signed Lincoln Northeast offensive lineman Cole Pensick and Omaha Gross fullback CJ Zimmerer. McCook defensive lineman Tyrone Sellers went to Kansas and Omaha Central wide receiver Daryle Hawkins signed with Oregon.

Finally, in 2008, Pelini’s transition year, the Huskers brought in five players while letting just one slip away. Lincoln Southwest lineman Baker Steinkuhler, Millard North linebacker Sean Fasher, Grand Island Central Catholic linebacker Micah Kreikemeier, Crete athlete John Levorson and Omaha Westside running back Collins Okafor. Trevor Robinson, a highly sought-after offensive lineman, chose Notre Dame.

Over the course of the last 11 years, 42 players from Nebraska signed with Power Five schools out of high school. Only 28 of them signed with Nebraska while 14 of them went elsewhere (four to Iowa, three to Kansas State, one to Kansas, one to Notre Dame, one to LSU, one to Oregon, one to Stanford, one to Arizona State and one to Wisconsin). Only six of those 14 held Nebraska offers, however — Williams, Bubak, Fant, Phillips, LaCouture and Robinson. Ott and Bazata went on to have very productive college careers for the Hawkeyes despite not receiving offers from Nebraska.

This list is littered with difference-makers, role players and total misses that ended up both at Nebraska and elsewhere.

“When I was growing up, every kid in the state of Nebraska dreamed about running out here on this field wearing a red N on their helmet,” Scott Frost said during his introductory press conference. “There’s too many kids from this state right now playing at other schools. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure those kids are here.”

Nebraska is three-for-three so far in 2019 in terms of in-state targets. Can Frost and his staff convince big-time prospects like Henrich and Hickman to keep building up that in-state class? Only time will tell, but Nebraska is certainly off to a great start.

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