Nebraska landed a huge addition to its 2019 recruiting class on Monday with the commitment of 4-star quarterback Luke McCaffrey.
If you recognize that name, it's because the Colorado athlete comes from football royalty. His dad, Ed, caught 55 touchdowns as a wide receiver in the NFL. His brother, Christian, was a Heisman finalist at Stanford and currently plays for the Carolina Panthers. His other brother, Dylan, was recently a 5-star quarterback who committed to Michigan. Suffice it to say, there's a history of talent.
So with his addition to the Huskers' class, bumping the class total now to seven, there are plenty of takes to be had about what it means moving forward. Hail Varsity's Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson are here to help on that front.
The obvious question comes first: what does McCaffrey’s addition mean for the quarterback room moving forward? Do the Huskers take another quarterback in this class? Does he stay in that room or play elsewhere?
GS: First and foremost the addition of McCaffrey paired with the signing last recruiting class of Adrian Martinez means that Nebraska will look to have serious athleticism at quarterback under Scott Frost. They will not take another quarterback in this class. Going forward, I wouldn’t completely rule out the youngest McCaffrey moving to another position and being successful if that needs to happen. That is not a knock on his ability at quarterback but a testament to his athleticism and Frost’s ability as an offensive coach. I’m excited to see what he can do as the full-time starter of his high school team this season and my gut says he will have a monster year.
JP: If Nebraska doesn’t suffer any attrition (never a safe assumption), the Huskers will have Tristan Gebbia and Noah Vedral as sophomores, Adrian Martinez as a freshman or sophomore, Andrew Bunch as a junior and then McCaffrey as a freshman. That’s right about where Scott Frost wants his quarterback room, I think. Even if Nebraska does lose someone from that room, I think doubling up at quarterback in 2019 would just lead to more attrition. Perhaps Nebraska will continue to listen if its other top 2019 targets want to continue considering the Huskers, but I don’t see Nebraska pushing hard for another commit. Nebraska is going to have a freshman starting this season and a sophomore the next year, so there’s no reason to rush McCaffrey into playing time. He’ll get a redshirt year most likely and then another year to continue honing his craft under Mario Verduzco. If, at that point, it doesn’t look like quarterback is working out for him, he might consider a position change rather than a transfer, but they’re going to give him every shot at being a quarterback.
DP: McCaffrey gives the Huskers five legitimate quarterbacks for 2019 (assuming no one leaves, which isn’t ever a safe assumption in college but still); there are the four scholarship guys and then Andrew Bunch who might get on scholarship at some point before it’s all said and done. Frost would prefer a bigger room so in that respect it would make sense to keep the kid where he’s at. McCaffrey doesn’t have the gaudy numbers of other high school quarterbacks with similar pedigrees but he has had to wait his turn behind a few pretty decent options. Plus, his 76 percent completion rate is nothing to sneeze at. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, to see Frost use McCaffrey in other ways on the field similar to a Ryan Tannehill-Texas A&M situation. Tannehill spent his first two years at wideout until the quarterback spot opened up, where he racked up 1,453 yards and nine touchdowns on 101 catches. McCaffrey has the athleticism to be a legitimate weapon for this Husker offense regardless of where he’s lining up; that’s not a negative, that’s smart utilization.
Two commits in four days, is June fixing to be a big month for Big Red?
GS: The short answer is yes it’s going to be a huge month. Nebraska may not be done adding players this week as I have two recent visitors on commit watch. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see linebacker Jackson Hannah and offensive lineman Matthew Anderson join the 2019 recruiting class before long. Also, JUCO defensive tackle Tony Fair has a looming decision as well. That’s before we hit Friday Night Lights which will likely produce positive news for the Big Red.
JP: This is Greg’s area of expertise, so who am I to disagree? This momentum is particularly impressive for the Huskers considering the lack of official visits they have at their disposal until the calendar resets in August. June is a big month for camps, both Nebraska’s own Friday Night Lights camps later in the month and for camps elsewhere that the coaches attend.
DP: Nebraska added a JUCO offensive lineman on Friday (as well as a 2018 grad transfer defensive lineman) and now McCaffrey puts the 2019 class at seven guys. We still are two weeks away from the money-makers in the June 15 and June 22 Friday Night Lights camps. Strap in.
It doesn’t seem like Scott Frost is missing much on the recruiting trail. What are everyone’s thoughts on this staff’s recruiting efforts to date?
GS: So far, so good. The reason it feels like they aren’t missing much is because the staff has a clear understanding of who and what they are looking for on the trail. There was some worry among fans about the “slow start” but you won’t be hearing about that during this month. In my mind, they are right on schedule, finding the right fits for their vision of the team.
JP: Nebraska is doing a great job of sending out a ton of offers, both to cast a wide net and to establish itself as a presence around big-time football high schools across the country as the coaches make a name for themselves at Nebraska. But when they hone in on certain players they really like, it seems like they’re doing a great job of selling Nebraska and bringing those kids into the field. It was great to start the class with those three local kids at the core to build off of, but now Nebraska is really starting to get going with out-of-state commits from several areas: Oklahoma, New Jersey, junior college in Arizona and now in Colorado.
DP: Greg hit on something I think is really important to keep in mind with this new staff, and it recalls something another recruit’s dad told Greg a month ago: relationships. It’s all about the relationships. Uneasiness over “slow” starts on the recruiting trail is probably a little misplaced. This entire staff is both opportunistic and realistic about kids they go after. If he’s not someone that both fits what they do and shows serious interest in what they’re selling, they’re not going to dedicate resources. But, if he is, they’re going to throw the kitchen sink at him (not literally; probably a bad recruiting strategy). When they set their sights on kids, they’re not trying to get quick-trigger reactions, they’re trying to build relationships and build something that lasts. That inevitably takes time. Which leads us into the June and July months. I think in the future, you’ll see June and July as being pretty firework-heavy for Nebraska. Also… how great does it feel to pluck a high-profile recruit out of Colorado?