Photo Credit: John S. Peterson.

Nebraska Recruiting: ‘Total Athlete’ Becomes First Commitment of Huskers’ 2024 Recruiting Class

February 21, 2023

Nebraska’s 2024 recruiting class finally gained its first commitment on Monday night when Altair, Texas, junior athlete Roger Gradney announced his decision.

Gradney is a junior at Rice Consolidated High School and a composite 4-star recruit. His junior season ended abruptly with an injury, limiting him to just five games. In those five games, Gradney displayed his explosiveness in the return game, as a receiver and as a hybrid rover on defense.

“He’s a total athlete,” Rice head coach Brad Dumont told Hail Varsity. “We played him a little bit all over the place this year before we shut him down on an injury. But he’s coming off that pretty good.”

Gradney played a little outside linebacker at Rice this past season, where he could rush the passer and capably drop into coverage. This last year was Dumont’s first year back into coaching following a 9-year retirement. Admittedly, his staff didn’t know the best place for him. Dumont said he’s got bigger plans for Nebraska’s newest commitment this coming fall. That includes rushing the passer, covering slot receivers and moving him into corner. Rice plays a 3-man defensive front and Gradney’s skillset fits the hybrid/position in that system.

Head coach Matt Rhule and his coaching staff identified Gradney for his explosiveness. Last spring the junior posted a 10.88 in the 100, 22.41 in the 200, a 43-foot, 4.5-inch triple jump and a 130-foot, 7-inch sling in the discus. Gradney’s marks in the 100 and 200 qualified him for the Texas state meet as a sophomore. His triple jump mark fell just shy of qualification. He fits Rhule’s mold for athleticism that could fit in a variety of roles, including the return game.

“He’s really an extraordinarily good kick returner. He returned a couple for touchdowns for us,” Dumont said. “On the offensive side of the ball we used him as a big play type of guy. Just kind of bounced him around a little bit.”

Through the last two seasons, Gradney has scored in all three phases. He’s scored one rushing touchdown, two receiving, one fumble recovery, two on punt returns and three on kickoff returns. He’s gained 1,299 all-purpose yards in the process.

“No doubt he’s a gamechanger,” Dumont said. “He’s one of those guys with good football savvy and he can be real physical when he wants to.”

Recruit Watch

Nebraska’s coaching staff extended a few new scholarship offers earlier this week. One of them went to Omaha eighth-grader Tory Pittman III. Pittman’s a 6-foot athlete before even entering high school and has lit up 7-on-7 camps across the country. He’ll be a freshman at Omaha Central in the fall. (Hail Varsity will have more on his offer later this week.)

The Huskers offered junior linebacker Elijah Newby out of Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut. He’s a 6-foot-4 multi-sport athlete whose most recent uploaded 40 time is 4.64. He’s a consensus 3-star recruit with over a dozen offers, including those from Boston College, Penn State, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.

Consensus 4-star linebacker Kamar Mothudi received an offer from Nebraska on Monday. He’s a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior at Campbell High School in North Hollywood, California. Mothudi made 111 tackles last season, 14.0 for loss, deflected two passes, intercepted two passes and caused two fumbles. As a running back he ran for 1,345 yards. He’s averaged at least 9.0 yards per carry the last two years, eclipsing 100 yards in seven of 12 games last season.

Gibson Pyle, a 2024 recruit out of Texas, announced he’ll visit Lincoln on March 4. That comes before spring ball and the VIP Junior Day the program his hosting on the weekend of March 24.


>> The Nebraska women’s basketball team looks to regroup and regain a winning mentality ahead of the Big Ten Tournament. That sets the stage for a rematch with Illinois, the team started the Huskers’ current four-game skid.

>> Relieve Sam Hoiberg’s crucial overtime steal to help the Huskers top Maryland in a come-from-behind victory. And listen to what head coach Fred Hoiberg had to say about his team’s victory while you’re at it.

>> The weekend brought a disastrous start for Will Bolt’s baseball team. Nebraska went 0-3-1 with runners left on and pitchers unable to find the strike zone in San Diego.

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