Nebraska’s roster includes seven players from New Orleans, five of them recruited, as well as transfers Tanner Lee and Keyan Williams. The five – Ben Miles, Pernell Jefferson, Tyrin Ferguson, Stanley Morgan Jr. and Kieron Williams – are among 10 scholarship recruits over the last six years who call Louisiana home, though Kieron Williams also went to Air Force Prep.
Since 2002, Husker scholarship recruiting classes have included 17 from Louisiana. During Tom Osborne’s 25 years as coach, Nebraska recruited only 13 Louisianans, beginning with Neil Smith in 1984. According to available records, Smith is Nebraska’s first football letterman from Louisiana.
Smith didn’t draw much recruiting attention at McDonogh 35 High in New Orleans. Grambling, Florida A&M and Southern University were the other schools. He caught the eye of Husker coaches who were looking at another player on his team. They saw potential in the 6-foot- 6 Smith, who weighed barely 200 pounds, though he was listed at 230 on letter-of- intent-signing day.
Appearances in the Sugar Bowl following the 1984 and 1986 seasons gave Nebraska exposure in Louisiana, and the Huskers recruited five more from there in the next four years, none more publicized than quarterback Mickey Joseph from Archbishop Shaw in suburban New Orleans in 1987.
Joseph was a Parade magazine and USA Today prep All-American as well as the Louisiana high school offensive player of the year – Reggie Cooper, from Slidell, was the state’s defensive player of the year and also a member of Nebraska’s 1987 recruiting class.
Osborne called Joseph probably the most publicized quarterback Nebraska had ever recruited. The Huskers went head-to- head with Big Eight rival Oklahoma for him. Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer considered him a perfect fit for the Sooners’ Wishbone offense.
Joseph found himself behind Steve Taylor and Gerry Gdowski his first two seasons after redshirting, then, ironically perhaps, suffered a severe laceration of his left-calf muscle when he was driven into a metal bench on the sideline in the first quarter of the Huskers’ 45-10 loss at Oklahoma in 1990.
As with Florida, an All-Louisiana Huskers team can’t be compiled because of numbers of athletes and positions. But here’s a top 10 from the Pelican State.
10. Barry Cryer, DT, Marrero (2005-06)
Juco transfer, backed up Titus Adams then started as a senior, when he was third with 10 tackles-for-loss
9. Alonzo Moore, WR, Winnfield (2013-14- 15-16)
Caught 60 passes for 981 yards and eight touchdowns during his career, with 18 starts
8. Mickey Joseph, QB, Marrero (1988-89- 90-91)
Earned All-Big Eight honorable mention in 1990; led conference in pass efficiency, third on the team in rushing
7. P.J. Smith, DB, River Ridge (2009-10- 11-12)
All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2012, third on the team with 86 tackles, seven career interceptions
6. Jason Wiltz, DT, New Orleans (1996-97- 98)
Two-year starter, All-Big 12 honorable mention in 1998; two sacks, seven hurries in 1997 national-title season
5. Cethan Carter, TE, Metaire (2013-14- 15-16)
Two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention; 59 career catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns
4. Tyrone Hughes, WR-KR, New Orleans (1989-90- 91-92)
Led Big Eight in kickoff returns three seasons, setting school record for yards; played corner in 1992 Orange Bowl
3. LeRoy Etienne, LB, New Iberia (1985-86- 87-88)
Two-time All-Big Eight, led the Huskers in tackles as a junior (75), second as a senior (79)
2. Reggie Cooper, S, Slidell (1987-88- 89-90)
Two-time, first-team All-Big Eight; three-year starter, led secondary in tackles three times
1. Neil Smith, DT, New Orleans (1985-86- 87)
The Sporting News first-team All-American in 1987, 14.5 career sacks; 13 NFL seasons (six Pro Bowls) as 1 st -round pick
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.