D’Andre Barnes was an under-the-radar recruit whose head coach couldn’t answer why the senior two-way player wasn’t getting more college offers. Regis Jesuit head coach Danny Filleman didn’t have the answers Barnes’ parents searched for. A standout senior season made him a top-10 recruit in Colorado but couldn’t get him a Power 5 offer. He was about to commit to Air Force when fate intervened—and his head coach pulled him from class.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield was recruiting in Denver last Tuesday, stopping at various high schools. He noticed Regis Jesuit was closer than he previously thought. He called Filleman and asked if it was OK to stop by. The two already knew each other. Satterfield came on a recruiting trip to Denver previously to visit former Nebraska commit Hayden Moore. Then Moore flipped his commitment and signed with Michigan, Filleman was proud of his player while hoping to develop relationships with Nebraska. He welcomed Satterfield into the weight room, Filleman’s functional office, and asked if they were done with their 2023 class.
Satterfield thought so. Maybe they had room for a defensive back. No vacancy other than that.
“Well,” Filleman told Satterfield, “I got a kid that kind of fell through the cracks.”
Filleman pulled up Barnes’ film while sharing the senior’s profile—stands 6 feet and runs the 100 meter in 10.6. His only offers came from the Mountain West, mostly Air Force and Wyoming. BYU eventually offered but only after a late transfer portal entry from its secondary. Flanked by free weights, bars and steel, Filleman showed Satterfield no more than eight plays.
“We’ve got to get this kid,” Filleman remembered Satterfield saying. “I’ve got to send this film to coach and get a good look at them.”
Satterfield went outside and called head coach Matt Rhule and secondary coach Evan Cooper. He sent Barnes’ film to them while they were out recruiting. Stop what you’re doing and watch, he told them. As Filleman understands, while he and Satterfield pulled Barnes out of class to introduce them, Cooper and Rhule pulled off the roadway to watch Barnes’ film. They liked what they saw.
“By that time, Coach Rhule and Coach Cooper looked at his film and said ‘We’ve got to get this kid up’ and it started to steamroll from there,” Filleman said.
Satterfield went to a scheduled appointment at a different school and returned to Regis Jesuit two hours later. By that time, Barnes’ parents were contacted. They met upon Satterfield’s return. Nebraska was offering their son a scholarship and wanted him in Lincoln to visit that weekend.
“He hits all the metrics that we look for. He is smart, he is big,” Rhule said of Barnes on Wednesday. “To me, the reason why you go out and see as many schools as you do is because when someone does have a transfer or someone does have an under the radar guy, they pick up the phone and call the University of Nebraska because they know they have relationships with the coaches.”
Nebraska’s coaches brought him as a defensive back. Barnes made 55 tackles and six interceptions as a safety last year. Throughout his recruitment, Barnes often thought of himself as a receiver. He made 37 catches for 785 yards with nine touchdowns. Filleman said he’s a capable receiver but last year was Barnes’ first as a safety.
“He has such a high ceiling and he’s such a natural athlete,” Filleman said. “We saw such huge growth in him that we really didn’t expect.”
Barnes took his official visit to Lincoln last Friday. That was enough to convince him to bet on his potential as a defensive back. He scratched his plans to sign with Air Force and joined Nebraska as a 27th and final scholarship high school signing of the 2023 recruiting class. Filleman and Satterfield exchanged texts over the weekend. They laughed at the craze and already swore they’d remember Barnes’ recruiting story for some time to come.
Barnes submitted his letter of intent to Nebraska without publicly announcing his commitment. Instead, he flew under the radar to arrive at Nebraska without acclaim or flair. Only until it was too late to ignore did people finally know about him.