Nebraska finally landed one of its top targets for 2017, as wide receiver prospect Jamire Calvin verbally committed to Nebraska on Jan. 27. Calvin was originally expected to commit to Nebraska during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but ended up selecting Oregon State. He decommitted not long after and Husker fans were once again left to wonder if Calvin would end up at Nebraska.
The wide receiver from Los Angeles, California, had held an offer from Nebraska since Feb. 2016 and had visited Nebraska multiple times since receiving the offer. After all of that, the Huskers hard work has finally paid off. Calvin is coming off a senior season in which he caught 86 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns, helping lead Cathedral High to an 11-1 record and the quarterfinals of the California Division 3 state playoffs. He is listed as a 4-star recruit with a 90.3 rating in Hail Varsity’s recruiting composite.
Who Else Was Interested
Calvin had been considered a Nebraska lean for almost nine months, until he surprisingly committed to Oregon State. Even after that, it was suspected that he really wanted to be at Nebraska which has proven to be true. Calvin finished his recruitment with more than 25 FBS offers and the talented prospect visited Nebraska, Notre Dame, Washington State and Oregon State before making his final decision. Despite a strong push from other programs, Keith Williams was able to snag one of his most coveted targets in the 2017 class.
Calvin measures in at 5-10 and 170 pounds and looks like a perfect fit for the slot receiver position. He has an extremely athletic build with very little bad weight on his frame. Despite not having ideal height at only 5-10, Calvin makes up for it by having tremendous arm length for a player of his height. Calvin does have some room to fill out as he matures, especially in his upper body. When he is finished filling out, I would expect Calvin to measure in at 5-10 and in the 185-190 pound range.
His speed and agility: You can’t teach speed, and Calvin certainly has it. Calvin is one of the few players that Nebraska has landed in recent years that I can truly classify as “burner” as he has the speed to consistently take the top off of opposing defenses. Calvin is far from a one trick pony however and he showcases remarkable agility once the ball is in his hands, as he is lightning quick in space and difficult for opposing defenses to take down. Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf have been extremely successful with these types of fast, quick receivers (Brandin Cooks, anyone?) and Calvin perfectly fits what they are looking for in a receiver.
His on-field attitude/swagger: I love receivers that play with a chip on their shoulder and Calvin certainly fits that. Calvin plays angry on film, as he looks to dominate the man lining up across from him and prove that he is, without a doubt, the best player on the field that night. Calvin also has the contagious swagger about him when he plays and there isn’t a single play that he doesn’t believe he can make. His teammates pick up on that on-field mentality and follow suit, leading to the team playing with increased confidence.
His ability to make tough catches: Calvin isn’t necessarily someone that you are going to consistently throw jump balls to, but he has shown the ability to outfight opposing defenders for 50/50 balls. Calvin does a solid job of getting himself into position, walling the defenders off from the oncoming football like a basketball player boxing out for a rebound. When the ball gets within reaching distance, Calvin shows solid timing with his jump and high points the ball with two hands, allowing him to attack the ball in the air and win one on one battles with defenders. Great receivers are often defined by their ability to make tough catches and Calvin shows solid potential in that area.
His special teams ability: This may be the biggest reason why I’m excited that Calvin has decided to commit to Nebraska. Calvin is an absolute dynamite as a punt returner, as he plays with supreme confidence and solid instincts back deep. Calvin does a solid job of locating the ball in the air and getting himself in position to make a return. Once the ball is in his hands, Calvin is tremendous at making the first man miss and then not wasting any time getting up field. His return prowess led to him taking seven punts back for touchdowns during his high school career. Nebraska’s punt return game has been almost non-existent in the past two seasons, as De’Mornay Pierson-El has struggled to recapture his freshman year form. Adding Calvin to the mix gives Nebraska a dynamic new punt returner option that can give the special teams a needed boost.
Showing better concentration: As I stated earlier, Calvin shows impressive concentration when it comes to 50/50 balls. Where Calvin sometimes gets into trouble is when he has gotten separation and all he needs to do is make the routine catch. Calvin tends to get lazy with his hands at times and he tends to try to body catch passes instead of attacking the ball with his hands every time. This leads to him being a less consistent pass catcher and also limits his ability to make plays after the catch, as he is catching the ball in a less athletic position. This area can improve very quickly if Calvin works at it, as it is simply a concentration issue.
Expanding his route tree: Cathedral kept things simple with Calvin having him go deep and throwing it up for him. Obviously it worked pretty well at the high school level, but Calvin will need to expand his route tree in order to continue to see success at the Big Ten level. Calvin has the straight line speed and short area quickness to be an effective receiver all over the field, but he will need to become comfortable with routes taking him over the middle as well working the short- to intermediate area of the defense. This is another area that will improve quickly as Calvin begins absorbing the Nebraska playbook next fall.
This was a big recruiting victory for Keith Williams, as well as big victory for NU’s “Calibraska” movement. Nebraska has worked tirelessly to build connections with California talent, but the Huskers had struggled to close the deal with many. Landing Calvin was a step in the right direction toward proving that the Calibraska movement was more than just a nifty advertising ploy.
Calvin’s ability as a punt returner leads me to believe that he will see the field as a true freshman and his presence will allow Pierson-El to focus strictly on wide receiver in 2017. In 2018, I would expect Calvin to battle for the departed Pierson-El’s starting spot while keeping his job as Nebraska’s primary punt returner.
College Comparison: Louisiana Tech wide receiver Carlos Henderson
Pro Comparison: Bigger version of San Diego Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin