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Mailbag: The Challenge of Recruiting Defensive Linemen
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Mailbag: The Challenge of Recruiting Defensive Linemen

June 20, 2017

Nebraska’s on a good recruiting run, so it’s not a surprise to see it on a lot of people’s minds this week, but we also get into a little uniform talk and discuss potential 1,000-yard receivers at Nebraska.

Hail Varsity staff members Mike Babcock, Jacob Padilla, Chris Schmidt and Brandon Vogel provide the answers this week.

We’ve seen that the new staff can recruit just about every position well. But what’s a coach gotta do to land a big time DE? (@40924d2c7e4a418, Twitter)
CS: Nebraska had a number of defensive ends on campus last week with an offer going out to Garrett Nelson (Scottsbluff, Neb.) and this weekend 5-star defensive end Micah Parsons will be on campus. Bob Diaco and John Parrella will put the full-court press on. As far as timeline, maybe this weekend.
BV: It is a tough haul for big-time defensive linemen, particularly edge-rushers. There’s a limited supply and unlimited demand, and, more so than other positions, those players tend to be located in the South. Those are the general challenges. You can go back more than a decade and I think there are only two defensive linemen Nebraska has signed that you would’ve called truly elite the day they signed — Ndamukong Suh and Randy Gregory. There were other 4-stars during that span, and other players that became elite defensive linemen once they got to campus, but they weren’t at the level of Suh, Gregory or someone like Parsons appeared to be in high school.
That said, I feel like Nebraska is getting closer. Getting Parsons on campus was a win. I don’t know that the Huskers will get Parsons, but they seem to be in pretty good with Daniel Carson. He doesn’t have an elite ranking at the moment, but his offer list is impressive and it seems like Nebraska has a good shot. I’d also add that the difficulty in landing elite defensive linemen puts a greater focus on “development” there, and I think as Parrella starts to have a full roster of hand-picked guys, Nebraska fans will see encouraging results.
JP: I’d say if you’re looking specifically for a guy that will play defensive end at Nebraska, the switch to the 3-4 limited the player pool, making it even more difficult to land those guys. A lot of guys that are big-time defensive ends in high school will likely be targeted by Nebraska as an outside linebacker (Guy Thomas, for example). Regardless of which position he plays, though, Nebraska absolutely does need that stud edge rusher and it’s up to the combination of Bob Diaco, Trent Bray and John Parrella to get that done.
Is Elijah Blades still coming to Nebraska? (@kitkatkatapus, Twitter)
CS: Blades recently tweeted out that it was time for him to leave Cali. He will be at Nebraska. I think he is waiting on either a grade or to see if he needs to boost a test score.  It sounds like either is very achievable and worst case he’ll be here by fall.
BV: I’ve gotten no indication other than that the staff is expecting him to be able to enroll for the second summer session (July). That said, I’ve also gotten no indication that it is a sure thing either, but I would say Nebraska is proceeding as if he’ll be in Lincoln. I would say the most likely scenario is that he’s on campus in the weeks to come. Trying to read the tea leaves of Blades’ tweets has been tough, but that’s what I know at this point.
JP: Speaking of reading Twitter tea leaves, Blades did tweet “PLAY BALL” yesterday. Maybe he was just at a baseball game, but it’s certainly more encouraging than the “If this doesn’t happen I’m not going there” tweet (which he appears to have deleted).
Should we be expecting an alternate uniform announcement this summer? If so, any guess on which game they would wear them? (@BCoffendaffer, Twitter)
CS: Perhaps sometime in July. I know Brandon just did a mention in a recent Hot Reads about Penn State going alt-uni. I would circle the Northwestern game as the alternate uniform bowl. Nebraska went all black versus Northwestern in 2015 and all white/chrome in 2016 versus the ‘Cats.
BV: I’m pretty sure there will be an alternate uniform this year and I think it will be worn at home. Chris’s pick of the Northwestern game is a solid one. The Huskers and Wildcats have both worn their “standard uniforms” against each other just once since Nebraska joined the Big Ten (2013). With both Wisconsin and Ohio State coming to town, those seem like high-profile options as well and Nebraska has tended to break out its alternates in the late-September/October range most of the time.
MB: Don’t have anything to add except that as an old guy, mired in tradition, I’d prefer they didn’t wear them. But the high-profile home games would be the best for exposure, which is what alternates are all about.
Was the Chris Bleich commitment to UCLA a surprise? (@cdrift24, Twitter)
CS:  I was really shocked about Bleich. My feel was he would take some visits, but eventually pull the trigger with Nebraska. Maybe it’s not over for Nebraska if it can get him to visit again. I think the kid really wants to be anywhere but Pennsylvania and UCLA gave him a hard sell and maybe a deadline.
BV: I was surprised. As Chris said, I expected Bleich to do his due diligence but everything seemed to be trending Nebraska’s way. Jim Mora isn’t exactly on the firmest of ground at UCLA, so I wouldn’t close the book just yet.
Which WR will be the first to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season? Bonus question: which season will it happen? (@Corn_Huskers, Twitter)
CS:  I would put my money down on Stanley Morgan Jr. I really like his game and with Nebraska’s quarterback situation they will throw it a ton. That’s a perfect combination to try and hit that number. Perhaps this year is the year for a 1,000-yard receiver, but 2018 may be better with a presumed second year of Tanner Lee and Morgan together.
MB: Morgan, possibly, but I’d be surprised if it were this season. When the offense settles in as Riley and Langsdorf want it, the potential will be there. It might not happen while Morgan and Lee are here, actually. Might take a couple of seasons. I expect them to spread around the ball. A footnote to the 1,000-yard receiver, of course. Johnny Rodgers had 1,013 receiving yards in 12 games in 1972, but the 12th game was the Orange Bowl, and bowl games aren’t included in official records until 2002.

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