The contact period officially began Sunday evening, as coaches set out to meet with prospects and their families in an attempt to convince them to sign with the Huskers. Nebraska is already in the midst of visiting their prospects, as defensive backs coach Brian Stewart was in Jacksonville Sunday night to speak with 2017 cornerback prospect Quran Hafiz. That got me thinking, who else should Nebraska be visiting during the downtime between now and their bowl game? There will be many visits over the next two weeks, but I trimmed the list down to the top 10 prospects, in reverse order, that Nebraska needs to visit and make a good impression on during the contact period.
10. Damion Daniels, DT | Dallas, Texas | Other Contenders: Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma State
Everyone acted surprised when Iowa rolled up 264 rushing yards against Nebraska by essentially running one play over and over again, but in hindsight we probably should have seen this coming. Nebraska relied on five linemen for all of Big Ten play, with one of the contributors being a former walk-on. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially when you play in the conference with the most physical offenses in the country. Nebraska’s defensive line overachieved this year, but was crippled by early exits to the draft (Maliek Collins, Vincent Valentine), dismissals from the team (Avery Moss, Ernest Suttles), and recruiting misses (AJ Natter, Joe Keels, Sedrick King). So to put it simply, Nebraska needs more talent on the defensive line and a lot more depth. That’s where Daniels comes in, the 6-1, 310-pound nose guard out of Bishop Dunne High School visited Nebraska for its season opener against Fresno State and was blown away, leading many to predict that he would commit to Nebraska sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for Nebraska, Colorado’s breakout season has made them the top contender for Daniels’ commitment, as he plans on visiting Colorado during December. John Parrella needs to get in the living room with Daniels and his family and work some magic to keep the Buffs from stealing a prized member of the 2017 defensive-line class.
9. Jamire Calvin, WR | Los Angeles, Calif. | Other Contenders: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State
For all the cool t-shirts and social media campaigns the “Calibraska” movement has created, it has only resulted in two commitments. That needs to change, as Nebraska has spent far too much time and effort in the state of California to only get one-twelfth of its class from the Golden State. That’s where Calvin comes in, the 5-10 speedster has just completed a stellar senior campaign in which he caught 73 passes for 1,179 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping lead Cathedral High School to an 11-1 record. Calvin has been considered a Nebraska lean, possibly even a “silent commit”, since the spring game, but he has still maintained that he will be making his college decision during the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in January. Nebraska has the lead for Calvin currently, but Keith Williams needs to get to his home and make sure Nebraska can keep its lead over Notre Dame and Oregon State, a team that has been surprisingly effective at recruiting wide receivers this cycle.
8. Rahyme Johnson, OLB | Los Angeles, Calif. | Other Contenders: Oregon, Florida
Johnson appeared as good as gone a couple weeks ago, as he received an offer from Oregon and had seen his second high school teammate commit there when Nick Pickett chose the Ducks. But Mark Helfrich’s less-than-solid job status means that another school can slide in and steal the talented defender. Trent Bray needs one more outside linebacker to complete his 2017 class, and Johnson has been a target that he has been after for almost a year now. But Nebraska won’t be the only team chasing the talented linebacker, as Florida has shown significant interest in Johnson and still has an opening at linebacker in its class. Bray will need to hop out to Los Angeles and win over Johnson and his parents to give Nebraska a stud outside linebacker in the class.
7. Kamren Curl, S | Muskogee, Okla. | Other Contenders: Oklahoma, TCU
Nebraska needs at least one safety recruit this cycle, as they will need to fill the void left by Nate Gerry following this season. While Nebraska kicked the tires on several safety prospects this cycle, they appear to have locked in on Muskogee, Okla., safety Kamren Curl, one of the top sleepers in the 2017 class. Nebraska appeared to be the team to beat for Curl following his visit for the Minnesota game, but a late offer from Oklahoma has made this a three-team race between Sooners, Huskers and TCU. Curl has an official visit planned to see Norman when Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State this weekend, so Brian Stewart will need to make a trip to see Curl and remind him of how much he enjoyed his trip to Lincoln in November. Nebraska got the early lead on one of the top steals in the nation; it can’t afford to let Oklahoma swoop in and take him away without a fight.
6. Jaquan Henderson, OLB | Covington, Ga. | Other Contenders: Tennessee, Michigan State
Nebraska surprised many by hosting Covington, Ga., outside linebacker Jaquan Henderson for the victory over Minnesota this November, as there had been very little news connecting the Huskers to the talented linebacker. Nebraska made a good impression on Henderson, who was very impressed with the game-day atmosphere as well as the facilities. Henderson has been a Tennessee commit since June, but he has already decommitted from a school once (UCLA) and may be a candidate to flip once again to Nebraska. Henderson has visited both Nebraska and Michigan State, meaning Trent Bray will need to beat out Mark Dantonio and the Spartans’ impressive linebacker tradition in order to land the young man. I know Nebraska has spent a lot of time trying to woo Rahyme Johnson out of California, but Henderson may be a more attainable and possibly more talented target for the Huskers.
5. Chuck Filiaga, OL | Aledo, Texas | Other Contenders: Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon
Nebraska has landed a pretty good offensive line class in 2017, with Brenden Jaimes, Matt Sichterman and Broc Bando serving as a solid three man group on the offensive line. In order to take this class from good to great however, Nebraska needs to land one more stud at tackle. That’s where Chuck Filiaga comes in. The massive 6-6, 330-pound prospect is in the midst of a dominant senior season at Aledo High Scool, where he paved the way for an offense that has averaged 59 points a game on its way to a 13-0 season. Filiaga has already taken three official visits to Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon but has stated that he plans to visit Nebraska some point after he finishes his senior season. Coach Cavanaugh needs to get down to Texas in order to get that visit locked in, as Nebraska will not be able to land Filiaga without getting him on campus first.
4. Jeremiah Hollomon, WR | Covington, Ga. | Other Contenders: Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Georgia
Nebraska hosted Holloman for its victory against Maryland, and the talented prospect was impressed by Nebraska’s offensive scheme and intrigued by the opportunity of early playing time for the Big Red. The visit helped Nebraska vault into Holloman’s top group of schools along with Miami, Notre Dame and Holloman’s home-state Bulldogs. Of those three schools, Georgia will likely be the most difficult school to beat for the talented prospect. Keith Williams has formed a strong bond with the receiver, and he needs to work his magic in order to steal a top athlete out of SEC country.
3. Elijah Blades, CB | Pasadena, Calif. | Other Contenders: Florida
Nebraska got in a bit late on Blades, offering him just a month before he committed to Florida. Despite committing early in the process, Blades still expressed significant interest in the Huskers and planned to visit Nebraska when they played Maryland. A scheduling conflict put a kibosh on those plans, but Blades still plans to visit sometime in December. Stewart needs to get out to Pasadena in order to get that visit set in stone. With Darnay Holmes looking like an Ohio State lock, Blades now looks like the biggest fish Nebraska can land for its secondary in the 2017 class, but will need to host him and his family in order to make up some ground on the Gators.
2. Joseph Lewis, WR | Los Angeles, Calif. | Other Contenders: Oregon, Oklahoma
Nebraska hasn’t landed a consensus 5-star recruit since Baker Steinkuhler in 2008. Could this be the year it breaks that cold spell. It appears that Nebraska’s best bet at getting a 5-star recruit is Los Angeles. Calif., native Joseph Lewis, a 5-star receiver that Nebraska has been after for more than a year now. Lewis has shown significant interest in Nebraska, officially visiting for the Illinois game and he has also taken two unofficial visits over the summer, as Nebraska appears to have the inside track to landing the 5-star. The main contenders for him at this point appear to be Oregon and Oklahoma, with the Sooners being the more dangerous team at this moment due to its stable coaching staff. Williams needs to make the trek out to LA one more time to make sure everything is locked in and solidify what might be Nebraska’s biggest recruiting victory since Marlon Lucky.
1. Foster Sarell, OL | Graham, Wa. | Other Contenders: Stanford, Washington
There is no bigger fish in the country than Foster Sarell, the No.1 recruit in the nation according to 247. Sarell visited Nebraska earlier this season for its win over Fresno State and came away impressed, but he has taken visits to USC and Notre Dame since then and loosk set to visit Washington and Stanford before his recruitment is over. Coach Cavanaugh has been recruiting Sarell since he was a sophomore in high school and has a tremendous relationship with the young man, something he will need to use in order to beat out Stanford and Washington for him. It may be a 1-in-100 shot, but the Huskers have a chance at landing their best offensive linemen since Toniu Funoti. Cavanaugh will need to bring his A-game on his visit in order to steal Sarell out of the Northwest.