The whole process took about a month for the Huskers’ latest commitment. Creighton Prep 2023 offensive lineman Sam Sledge announced his decision to commit to Nebraska on Sunday evening. He was offered on Jan. 22 following one of the Huskers’ Junior Day events. Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola pulled him aside at the end of the event and invited Sledge’s family into his office. Sledge and his family were very emotional when Raiola immediately offered him and were all thrilled for the lineman to be offered by Nebraska.
Things just felt right when he committed to the program.
“It felt like home right now and I didn’t want to waste any more time,” Sledge told Hail Varsity. “I was ready to do it. I felt like Nebraska was the place I’ve always wanted to go. When I got the offer, I was super excited. Just talking to my family and my dad and mom we just felt like it was it was the right time to do it now.”
Sam is the first 2023 offensive lineman to commit to Raiola. Lincoln Southeast offensive lineman Gunnar Gottula was already in the class when Raiola took the job. Sledge and Raiola have quickly bonded in the time they have gotten to know each other.
“My first impressions are first off (that) he’s a great guy,” Sledge said. “I know what I’m going to get from him. He doesn’t lie to me. He just so he tells me everything I need to know. He gets back to me right away whenever I need. I feel that learning from him is what could put me in like a situation play football after Nebraska.”
Sledge has talked to the Huskers about playing on the interior in college. He’ll slide into guard or even center once he arrives in Lincoln. He plays tackle now for Creighton Prep but he welcomes that move. Sledge thinks that playing on the inside fits him best long term based on his size and skill set.
Sledge isn’t just an in-state prospect but he’s also a legacy. His father, Bob Sledge, was an All-Big Eight offensive lineman at Nebraska in the late 1980s. It means a lot for him to be part of the Huskers as the program tries to rebuild into a contender. It’s something he and the other in-state players in the class have talked about.
“I just feel like the kids in state, me, Ben [Brahmer] and Gunnar are the ones that can help get Nebraska back to where it needs to be,” Sledge said. I feel like all the in-state guys now that are being recruited feel like we can compete with anyone in the nation. I feel like we’re the ones that can get Nebraska back.”
There are a pair of in-state players with offers right now that have not committed to Nebraska. Lincoln East wide receiver Malachi Coleman and Elkhorn South defensive end Maverick Noonan are priorities for Nebraska. Sledge didn’t name them but he did say there are two other players that the in-state commits have in a group chat. The commits are there to help peer recruit an answer whatever questions they have.
The Huskers have to feel good about landing another quality in-state player. Keeping as many local players as possible home this recruiting cycle is a major priority.
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.