Matt Rhule’s quest to strengthen the trenches has taken the Huskers into the Dakotas. Nebraska made a late push for Jason Maciejczak out of Pierre, South Dakota, late in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Despite a winter storm that kept him from visiting, the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder flipped his commitment from North Dakota to Nebraska.
The Huskers are going back into the Dakotas for linemen in 2024. Rhule’s coaching staff are making a push for Riley Sunram, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman in Kindred, North Dakota. He’s a power thrower for Kindred’s track program and moves laterally at a rate that surpasses most of his peers at a similar size.
“He’s as fundamentally sound as I’ve ever coached and I’ve coached some really good ones,” Kindred head coach Matthew Crane told Hail Varsity. “Riley’s a special kid for sure and he’s incredibly coachable. A-plus kid, a coach’s dream, to be honest with you.”
Sunram’s played since his freshman year, which is a rarity at Kindred. Crane credited that to his athleticism. Sunram’s feet and hand movements on the line were physically and technically above the rest at that age. He grew, physically and ability, during his sophomore season before an injury ended his season at two games. That also kept him off the basketball court, where his frame is incredibly valuable. He’s near the medical green light to rejoin Kindred’s track team and furthering the 54-foot, 4-inch shot put heave he marked as a sophomore. Sunram’s also cleared 150 feet easily in the discus.
“He will succeed at the next level, I have no doubt about it, because of his work ethic and his demeanor,” Crane said. “It’s just fantastic.”
Coaches will shuffle scheme and personnel to increase Sunram’s numbers next season. They believe he can get more sacks on the defensive line with a little jostling. Previously, he played in hammer technique with less commitment to pass rush. He finished with 13 tackles, 6.0 for loss, in two games last season.
“His numbers might not be as good as other recruits but I’d put him up against anybody,” Crane admitted. “That’s what we found in camps this summer, and he started doing 1-on-1s and nobody can block him. Well, we’re going to have to start utilizing him differently.”
Sunram’s athleticism attracts schools who see him in different spots. One school told Crane they see the junior as a collegiate center while others have discussed a possibility elsewhere on the offensive line. Nebraska sees him as a defensive tackle.
Regional programs North Dakota State, North Dakota and Nebraska are heavily involved in his recruitment. Sunram also holds offers from Duke, Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and recently visited Miami. He is scheduled to visit Nebraska for its Junior Day on March 25.
Nebraska extended a scholarship offer to KJ Edwards, a class of 2026 recruit out of Carthage, Texas. He stepped into a role on the varsity team halfway through his freshman season and finished with 535 yards and seven touchdowns in half a season this last fall. The Huskers are one of only three offers the promising speedster has received so far.
Class of 2024 running back Kedren Young received an offer from Nebraska on Friday. He ran for 1,666 yards and 19 touchdowns in his junior season at Lufkin, Texas, in 2023.
The Huskers are also in the mix for 2025 composite 4-star receiver Andrew Marsh out of Fulshear, Texas. He’s already ranked in the top 100 for that class and announced intends to visit Nebraska this spring. Marsh was named the district Newcomer of the Year last season and jumped 6-foot-2 in the high jump as a freshman.
Texas lineman Gibson Pyle announced Nebraska is among his top 10 schools in a graphic he tweeted on Sunday. Pyle visited Nebraska earlier this month and plans to return to Memorial Stadium in April.
Bellevue West Danny Kaelin will announce his college commitment on Monday at noon. In addition to Nebraska, Kaelin’s been recruited heavily by Miami, Missouri and North Carolina (among others).
Announcing my college commitment tomorrow at noon! @BellevueWestFB @jteigland @CoachHoover @CoachDanny10 @QBcoachNewcomb @SWiltfong247 @Rivals_Clint @AllenTrieu @ChadSimmons_ @samspiegs @ParkerThune @GregBiggins @adamgorney pic.twitter.com/h4sHGGzk68
— Daniel Kaelin (@DanielKaelin5) March 12, 2023
>> Cold temperatures on Sunday ended Nebraska baseball’s weekend series prematurely. The Huskers finished with a two-game sweep of Illinois State thanks to strong pitching and hot bats. Hail Varsity has a photo gallery available from Friday.
>> Saturday marked the end of the high school basketball season with the 2023 Nebraska State Boys Basketball Championships. Hail Varsity’s Jacob Padilla shared his thoughts from earlier rounds starting Wednesday, in addition to the title games.
>> Maren Angus-Coombs shared her latest Big Ten softball power rankings going into the weekend. The Huskers’ winning streak snapped at the hands of ranked Wichita State. They return to the circle on Wednesday at Omaha.