Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Thursday it's not imperative that the Huskers land a junior college defensive tackle in the 2013 recruiting class.
He made his comments in the wake of two touted juco defensive tackle prospects -- Quincy Russell (Oklahoma) and Lavon Hooks (Ole Miss) -- turning down Nebraska offers in the last two days.
Pelini said Nebraska would take a juco defensive tackle in the class "if it's the right guy, if it makes sense."
"Is it imperative?" he asked. "No."
Pelini said Nebraska feels "really good" about the young defensive linemen in the system.
In other recruiting news, Beau Sandland, a highly regarded juco tight end, picked Miami (Fla.) over Nebraska on Wednesday. NU had targeted Sandland as its top tight end prospect.
"We always have Plan As and Plan Bs," Pelini said. "I mean, it's an ever-changing thing, recruiting is. We have guys we're recruiting. We'll see how it plays out as it moves along."
Nebraska, with 16 verbal commitments, is ranked 36th in the Rivals.com team recruiting ratings.
"I really like our class right now," Pelini said. "I mean, it's got a ways to go. We've put a lot of hard work in to this point, and it's going to require a lot of hard work right on through signing day."
* Break time: Nebraska practiced Thursday for the final time this week. The players will reconvene Dec. 25, except for ones who live close to Florida.
Pelini said his players have earned the break.
What's more, "I believe that if the bowl schedule allows it, Christmas is a time when you should be with your family," the coach said. "We recruit kids who come from a long ways away. It's part of the deal. I tell their parents, 'If the bowl schedule allows, I'm going to make sure they're going to be able to see their boy at Christmas time.'"
The Huskers on Tuesday will practice and have meetings in Lincoln before leaving that day for Orlando, where they will continue preparations for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl.
* Promising tight ends: Although Nebraska loses two standout senior tight ends in Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton, the cupboard's not bare at the position, Pelini said.
Asked specifically about true freshman Sam Cotton (Ben's brother), who's sitting out this season as a redshirt, Pelini said, "I think he's a talented young man who's going to be really good down the line."
Pelini also offered unsolicited praise for walk-on tight end Trey Foster, also a true freshman, who was Cotton's teammate at Lincoln Southeast.
"He's been a pleasant surprise -- I shouldn't say surprise -- but he's done really well," the coach said.
Pelini also mentioned Jared Blum, a freshman walk-on from Gretna.
"I feel pretty good about our young tight ends," Pelini said.
* A lot of Cotton: Pelini indicated Jake Cotton, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound sophomore, has positioned himself for playing time in the guard rotation. He was in position for playing time last season before suffering a major knee injury in October.
"He's really come on in the last month or so," Pelini said. "I think he's feeling 100 percent healthy and getting kind of back to where he was before he was hurt. We have some good options."
* Busy schedules: Might former Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, now the head coach at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla., make an appearance at the Huskers' bowl practice site to visit his brother and the rest of the team? "I haven't even thought about that," Bo Pelini said. "I'm sure he's probably traveling for Christmas. I don't know, we haven't talked about it."
* Marrow on hand: Nebraska graduate assistant Vince Marrow is staying with the team through the bowl game before starting his duties as a full-time assistant at Kentucky early next month. Pelini is glad to have his longtime friend -- they grew up in Youngstown, Ohio -- on hand this week and next. "It made sense, and he wanted to do it, so it's good to keep as much continuity as we possibly can," Bo said.
* Lots of options: In terms of activities and places to visit, most anyone would tell you Orlando, Fla., is hard to beat.
"You can't do it all the first time you're down there," Pelini said. "I think this trip gives guys an opportunity to do some things they didn't do last year (during the bowl trip)."
Some of the activities for this year's bowl week include team trips to Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld Orlando.
* Armstrong recovery: Freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who underwent "corrective" knee surgery in October, is coming along well and likely will be ready for spring ball, Pelini said. The coach said he's "really excited" about Armstrong's future.
* Job rumors: If Alabama is interested in pursuing Nebraska secondary coach Terry Joseph for a job opening -- as has been rumored -- the Crimson Tide haven't asked Pelini for permission to speak to the first-year Husker aide, Pelini said.
* Last word: Nebraska is taking its full allotment of players to Orlando for the entire trip. "I thought we had a good week of preparation," Pelini said. "It's time for these guys to head out and then keep rolling."