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Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Potential Impact for Recruits After OPS Suspends Fall Sports

August 27, 2020

A huge domino has fallen for fall sports in Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha Public Schools announced Friday afternoon that it would suspend fall sports, including football. The decision came after intense debate between school administrators on how to best move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. The school board ultimately decided to go with 100% remote learning for the first quarter, which impacted fall sports.

“During our time in the 100% Remote Learning Instructional Model, all activities and athletics will be suspended,” OPS said in a statement. “We understand the important role extracurricular activities play in a student’s experience. This suspension is for the health and safety of everyone.”

The first quarter of school runs through Oct. 16. The move for OPS to suspend fall sports also has a ripple effect for divisions in Class A football. After the decision, six of seven Lincoln schools now have a void to fill in their schedules. Fall sports workouts are scheduled to begin on Monday.

A move of this scale has a huge impact on many student-athletes. OPS has seven high schools—Burke, Central, South, Benson, Bryan, Northwest and North—which are all affected by the decision. How will this move impact players who are hoping to gain college scholarships in football?

There are plenty of athletes that have aspirations to play college football. For some, athletics is their path to a college degree. Bellevue West tight end Micah Riley and Nebraska walk-on Noah Stafursky (who hails from York, Nebraska) expressed their disappointment over the decision, despite neither being directly impacted.

There are currently two major recruits in Omaha: outside linebacker Devon Jackson and offensive tackle Deshawn Woods. Both will have a lot of attention from other high schools if they’re able to transfer. That would require lifting the current rule that states a student has to sit for 90-days after transferring, which doesn’t sound like an option at this point.

Jackson is rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the entire 2022 recruiting class at this time. He now faces a tough decision to transfer out of Burke. If the rules change and he can, it will allow him to continue his development this season while on his way to a major Division I college.

Then there is Woods. He already holds early scholarship offers from around the country. He loves to compete and loves football, as he told Hail Varsity after the Warren Academy Showcase a couple weeks ago. He’s hearing a lot from Iowa State and Nebraska these days but there are plenty of other schools interested.

Woods shared a petition to have fall sports reinstated not long after the announcement. He also quickly tweeted that he does not intend to transfer from Omaha Central.

There will be kids from the 2021 recruiting class that are already committed. An interesting choice lies ahead if they attend an OPS school. If kids are committed to a school already they always have the option to just stay at their current school. That way they can do distance learning for the rest of their time in high school. They’d continue earning credits and continue training for the college level on their own time.

High school experiences around OPS are now forever changed. There is some major fallout coming from this decision to suspend fall sports.

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