Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Warren Academy Showcase Provides Platform for Under-the-Radar Nebraska Recruits

January 16, 2023

The Omaha Sports Complex served as a proving ground on Sunday morning. Coaches from the Warren Academy, including former Husker great Steve Warren himself, invited 200 athletes to the academy’s Unsigned Senior and Top Prospects Showcase so they could show their skills.

The absolute most famous, highly touted of in-state recruits didn’t need to prove their salt. Although, Bellevue West quarterback Daniel Kaelin and Omaha North lineman Tyson Terry were both in attendance. Sunday’s showcase best served unsigned seniors looking for a home and underclassmen to play in front of college coaches. Representatives from the University of Northern Iowa, University of Nebraska-Kearney and various Great Plains Athletics Conference member schools attended to get a better look at Nebraska’s remaining standouts.

Guys like Elkhorn South lineman Ashton Murphy did themselves immense favors. Murphy—6-foot-5, 240 pounds—finished with 32 tackles, 20 assists, 28 pressures, four sacks and two forced fumbles and recoveries each while playing in 27 of 44 quarters as a junior. He comes from a storied lineman legacy at Elkhorn South and has the body frame to be a big-time collegiate lineman. He wanted to prove he was more than a big body on Sunday.

“Felt like I was fast and had quick feet,” he said. “That was the main thing I wanted to do today.”

Murphy spent some time on the sidelines at Memorial Stadium last season. Most recently, however, he’s stayed in closest contact with schools like Wyoming, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

Another lineman that stood out was Elkhorn North junior Sam Thomas. He’s a 6-foot-5, 250-pound linemen who showed good explosion and acceleration. He stepped up for 32 tackles, four pass deflections, 2.0 sacks and two fumbles last season. His performance on Sunday in front of college coaches grew his recruiting profile. Lincoln East junior defensive lineman Cade Cetak also showed off his speed and agility following a season where he made 45 tackles and 8.0 sacks for the Spartans. Promising Gretna sophomore Griffin Goldman looked like a future college player while going 1-v-1 on defense, as did Elkhorn South junior Henry Prochazka.

The aforementioned Terry is focused on wrestling season but still made it on Sunday. He’s been heavily courted by Iowa recently and is getting contacted by the likes of Norte Dame and Nevada. He gained an offer from Nebraska following his freshman year when he became the first ever heavyweight to win the Class A State Wrestling Championship.

Backs and linebackers also impressed with their times, measurements and drill work. Lincoln Southeast sophomore Cash Buettenback, Omaha Westside junior Teddy Rezac, Cross County junior Izaac Dickey, Millard South junior Na’Zaire Djissenou and Norfolk junior Rowdy Bauer all showed their lateral quickness with explosiveness during drills.

Another one of those guys looking for an opportunity was Gretna senior Harrison Weber. Nebraska invited him to a few games last season during the interim coaching stint. He came to the showcase to get some more eyes on him. He loves the competition and losing a state championship on a last-second field goal gave him extra motivation. Weber’s 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame is loaded with muscle and he looks the part of a college athlete already. Still, the linebacker wants to raise his bench from 405 to 450 before the fall.

“Trying to get a little bit faster and then get heavier so I can get stronger,” he said. “Ready to get after it.”

Kaelin just threw on Sunday and he provided plenty of good passes for receiver drills. Omaha Westside junior Anthony Rezac, already an impressive mobile quarterback, showed his arm strength and precision as well. Kolbe Volkmer, a sophomore at Lincoln Pius X, turned heads with some of his throws during the showcase. He struggled through nine games in the Bolts’ fall season but showed his promise throwing in live drills.

Papillion-La Vista junior Travis Hines II, Omaha North junior Donovan Jones, Lincoln Southwest sophomore Jackson Carpenter, Millard West junior Jackson Williams and Omaha Westside junior Trevor Spady all ran crisp routes with good breaking ability on the ball during drills. The showcase ended with live 1-on-1 drills between receivers and defensive backs. That allowed all three athletes, including the quarterback, to promote their skills.

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