Fitting that Nebraska’s streak without adding a new commitment for the 2017 class, nearly three months long, ended on Christmas. The commitment of 3-star linebacker Andrew Ward was a much-needed gift at just the right time.
After the 2016 season — and the recruiting for 2017 done during 2016 — started with so much promise, Nebraska was sort of limping towards the end of the season as losers of three of its last five, including the humbling loss to Iowa, and a couple of defections from that 2017 class.
Ward’s verbal commitment doesn’t change that all on its own, but it was a bit of holiday cheer for Husker fans. With three linebackers now committed in this class, early-enrollee Avery Roberts and Willie Hampton are the others, Nebraska is probably full at that spot barring any other major developments.
As Jake Jensen noted in his evaluation of Ward (Premium) yesterday, there’s some uncovered-gem potential for Ward:
If you’re looking for Nebraska’s diamond in the rough, Ward is your guy. I am in love with Ward’s film, as he is everything that a college defense needs from their outside linebacker in today’s game. Ward is raw and has some kinks to work out, but he has speed and football IQ that you simply cannot teach.
How do the Huskers stack some more good news on top of ending the commitment drought? A win in the Music City Bowl would be a decent place to start. Considering some of the players that are missing for the Huskers, Nebraska probably shouldn’t beat Tennessee. Not in Tennessee.
Yes, the Vols are a little bit rough and ragged — the offense is on fire while the defense stopped playing three games ago — but they still have their quarterback, a junior running back likely headed for the NFL after this game and one of the best defensive ends in the game. To put it another way: Tennessee has three of its best players, Nebraska does not.
But the Huskers’ injury list is what may make the Music City Bowl the most interesting. What if Nebraska plays well behind a finally healthy offensive line? What if Ryker Fyfe looks like the Fyfe of the Maryland game? What if the defense slows down a Tennessee offense that is hitting on all cylinders?
Those would all, obviously, be positives and ones that immediately obtainable this week. They don’t even necessarily require a win, but that wouldn’t be a bad way to ring in the New Year either.
The Grab Bag
- ICYMI: Jacob Padilla took a close look at some of the players who made a splash on the scout team this season.
- Tennessee fans, like Nebraska’s, remain mindful of the QB battle to come this spring.
- Steve Sipple writes that the Huskers’ bowl game is plenty important.
- Ryan McGee of ESPN writes that all bowl games are plenty important.
Today’s Song of Today