What a wild ride building the 2021 recruiting class has been.
We are always going to look back at this recruiting class as the one that endured a set of unique circumstances. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA-mandated dead period has been in effect since March. Prospects have not been able to meet in person with prospective coaches and were unable to take official visits before signing to a school. Coaches were not able to get out on the road to evaluate prospects or have camps to work with players.
To Nebraska’s credit, the Huskers have done pretty well building this class. It has filled needs at several position groups, including wide receiver, offensive line and tight end. Coach Scott Frost and his staff gained a commitment from 4-star tight end Thomas Fidone, arguably one of the best players in the country.
But there is still work to do. Currently the Huskers have 20 known commitments for this class. That includes transfer linebacker Chris Kolarevic. They still have 3-5 spots remaining to fill in the class since the team is able to take a full boat of 25 players if desired.
The early signing period opens on Dec. 16, which is right around the corner. It’s crazy to try to predict anything in 2020, right? Let’s do it anyway. Here are three predictions on how the class will finish.
1) Las Vegas defensive lineman Tia Savea picks Nebraska
The Huskers have been in good position for the Nevada native for sometime now. The versatile lineman (6-3, 275) is a 4-star prospect. Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti has built a great relationship with Savea too.
Savea wanted to announced his college choice at the Under Armour All-America game in January. The event is canceled so his plans are unclear. The Huskers are hoping to shut things down during the early signing period.
2) Nebraska lands a player from Hawaii
When Tuioti was hired, he began laying the ground work to recruit in Hawaii. He knew that it wouldn’t pay off right away in the 2020 recruiting cycle because he needed time to build trust. The Huskers appear poised to cash in on his work this cycle. There are three strong candidates from Hawaii that could end up selecting Nebraska. Linebacker Wynden Ho’ohuli is the player most linked to the Huskers. Defensive lineman Zhen Sotelo is also in the mix and could be viewed as a Husker lean at this point. The mystery man of the group is wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala. He recently included Nebraska in his final group. It’s unclear if any of these players want to end things in December. But, I am picking the Huskers to come away with Ho’ohuli when the 2021 class is complete.
3) Local flip is brewing
Every year the Huskers have a player they’d like to flip at the last minute. It happens all over the country so you just want to come out on the right side of it. There are a couple local flip targets that fans have been discussing recently. They are also both on the same team. Quarterback Cole Payton is committed to North Dakota State. With shaky quarterback play in Lincoln this season there are a lot of people clamoring for a flip there. It’s not happening. Payton will be a Bison. Yet, his teammate Avante Dickerson might be a different story. He committed to Minnesota back on April 17 despite not visiting campus. Could there be a crack in that commitment for the Huskers to take advantage of? An evolving picture of the Huskers secondary room and playing closer to home with his friend Koby Bretz are compelling. I think it produces a late flip for Nebraska.
It’s not a full-on prediction but I’d be surprised if the Huskers take any late “fliers” on players this cycle. Instead, they could opt to save spots for transfers. The Huskers aren’t just hurt by transfers leaving. They already have one and are looking for more. It doesn’t have to be graduate transfers with new rules to allow guys to play right away and eligibility frozen.
Let’s buckle up for a fun ride to the early signing period.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.