Nebraska has received a surprise commitment from Alfonzo Dennard, a cornerback from rural Georgia.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Dennard had committed to North Carolina before making an abrupt change to Nebraska with national signing day less than a week away.
Dennard has not visited Nebraska but said Thursday night: “I liked the coaching staff. I liked Coach (Bo) Pelini. I liked Memorial Stadium. I checked it all out on the Internet.”
North Carolina officials had some concerns about if Dennard would be academically eligible at their school. But the player’s high school coach, Mark Ledford, said he believes Dennard will have the grades to qualify at NU.
Husker coaches did not approach Dennard until Saturday, but Ledford thinks they’re going to be happy they did.
“He’s a tremendous football player, a great athlete,” Ledford said. “He’s a kid that has played just about every position on the field for us. I think he’s going to be a big surprise for a lot of people.”
Playing for a school of about 375 students in the Class A division, the lowest classification in Georgia, Dennard’s Wilcox County High School team made it to the state championship game this season. Dennard went both ways, playing wide receiver and cornerback.
His twin brother, Lorenzo, was the quarterback, and is planning to attend community college in Hutchinson, Kan., where he’ll play football.
Dennard gives NU 22 commitments, with signing day looming Wednesday. NU secondary coach Marvin Sanders, formerly a North Carolina assistant, was Dennard’s primary recruiter and paid him a visit Wednesday.
Ledford said Dennard runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and has a 36-inch vertical leap.
He also is a point guard on the basketball team — “a playmaker” in his own words — and runs in the sprint events for the track team.
Dennard said he’s going to visit Nebraska in mid-February after basketball season is over.
The Internet has taught him some Husker history.
“I’ve seen pictures of it, 82,000 people,” Dennard said. “I know they’ve sold out all their games since 1962.”
Excited to see the place in person?
Dennard caught more than 40 passes each of the past two seasons on offense. His junior year, he had 18 touchdowns.
On defense, Ledford moved Dennard from an outside linebacker/strong safety spot to cornerback midway through his junior season. It turned out to be a smart move. In his first two games at corner, he had five interceptions.
“We’re kind of in a rural area,” Ledford said. “I think if Alfonzo were in a metro area, he would be a lot bigger name.”
Reach Brian Christopherson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 473-7439.