Isaac Gifford is only at the beginning of his junior season, but the Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast safety/wide receiver already holds an offer from Oregon State. Former Nebraska linebackers coach Trent Bray is now with the Beavers in the same position, and made the offer to Gifford this past January.
It was an honor for Gifford to receive an offer so early in his high school career. Bray's familiar with Gifford too, having coached his older brother Luke at Nebraska. Bray also showed interest in Isaac while he was coaching the Huskers, so it made sense for the offer to come quickly once in Corvallis.
But Isaac is taking his time. He hopes for more offers to come as his junior season progresses, and his brother Luke has advised him to keep his options open.
It seems likely the offers will come, too. Isaac has had a strong start to his junior season personally, especially in Southeast's 22-13 win over Lincoln Southwest this past Friday. Isaac rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown on offense, while adding 14 tackles on defense.
Isaac was at Nebraska one day later for the Huskers' original season opener with Akron. Despite not having a Nebraska offer yet, Isaac plans to visit the Huskers as much as possible and is taking it one day at a time. After all, he has plenty of time to make a decision and an older brother offering support and advice as needed.
How was Saturday's visit despite the game being canceled?
"It was fun. It was a lot of fun. The energy in the stadium was pretty crazy."
What was different about this Tunnel Walk versus ones you've seen in the past?
"I think everyone was so hyped up with Scott Frost coming home and coaching at Nebraska. I think the energy that the players are bringing helps a lot, too. Luke tells me about their practices and how hyped they are, and their game day practice was just crazy. It's just awesome to hear."
Will you be back for additional visits this year?
"Of course. I was invited to the game [against Colorado] too, so I'll probably go to most of the games that I get invited to."
Are you excited to actually see a game be played?
"Oh, yeah. Colorado will be a good game so it'll be fun to watch."
As a junior, you have time to make a decision. Do you have a timeframe for your recruitment though?
"In a perfect world I'm hoping that the recruiting and stuff will pick up after my junior football season ends this year and then starting to get more offers by the end of the year. That's what I hope for. You never know what's going to happen so you just have to keep your options open and go along with your story, you know?"
Aside from Nebraska, who has shown interest in you or do you have interest in?
"Northwestern has recently contacted me. South Dakota State has shown a little interest. Notre Dame showed a little bit toward the last dead period and Purdue showed a little interest, too."
You already have an offer from Oregon State. How did that make you feel to receive that so early?
"It's kind of nice. I'm pretty blessed, to be honest, to get an offer my sophomore year. I mean, my brother didn't start getting them until his junior year. To get one my sophomore year kind of broke the ice a little bit and gave me a taste of what it will be like and what to prepare myself for."
What has Luke told you about the recruiting process?
"He just told me to keep my options open and go where you're most wanted."
So, he's not pressuring you to come to Nebraska?
"No, of course not. He doesn't at all."
How neat is it to share this time with your brother though?
"It's pretty sweet. Last Saturday when I was on the sideline before the game, I watched him warm up and he came over and say, 'Hey.' It's just sweet to be around."
Luke is very supportive of you, and you've said you are of him too. Have you two always been so supportive of one another?
"We always support each other. We don't get down on each other very much."
Switching to Lincoln Southeast, what has your team learned these first couple of weeks of the season?
"We've definitely have a lot to work on, especially from the first game [against Burke]. The second game [against Lincoln Southwest], we progressed a lot. If you watch that second game, we picked up and really just [started] playing our game. With this team, we're physical. I wouldn't say we had a tough mindset last year, but this team is different. The guys on our team are tough. They'll hit you hard and stay in the game even if they're hurt. There's a lot of toughness on this team."
What's your motivation for this season?
"Southeast has always had a reputation of being pretty good. They have several state championship trophies and my goal is to get to the state championship and win it this year or next year, so that's really my goal that I have in my mind."
What potential do you believe your team has?
"We've all worked our tails off this summer. I don't really know how to say it but we just all work hard and we're just trying to take all that hard work and translate it on to the field. We want to keep it going."
What's something about you that you'd like Nebraska fans to know about you?
"I'm not all about sports. I like to do a lot of other things. I like to be outside hunting and fishing. It's not all about sports. There are other things I like to do."
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.