Recruiting: A closer look at what's in the cupboard

2013-01-19T23:55:00Z 2013-01-26T17:19:47Z Recruiting: A closer look at what's in the cupboardBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Celebratory fist pumps should be kept to a minimum until the faxed signatures are received the first Wednesday in February.

Anyone who has followed college football recruiting knows that the only certainty is uncertainty in the 2½ weeks before letter-of-intent signing day.

There are almost always late additions and sometimes a key subtraction or two from commitment lists that schools have been building for more than a year.

But we'll run with what we know, and that is Nebraska currently has 21 pledges in its 2013 recruiting class.

Three of them -- safety D.J. Singleton, offensive lineman David Knevel and linebacker Courtney Love -- are already enrolled for the spring semester and part of the Husker program.

At this point, Nebraska's commitments can be tough to keep track of by those who don't follow recruiting religiously.

So it seems beneficial to break down the commitments by their position group and location.

The following is a cheat sheet for those who don't read every recruiting story, and a quick review for those who do.

What do the Huskers have in the cupboard? What might still need to be added?

Here's a closer look:

* By location

 

Much was made in some of Bo Pelini’s earlier classes, during the Big 12 years, about Nebraska’s expanding footprint in Texas.

Then the storyline turned to the staff’s connections and growing list of signees from Ohio.

Nebraska is certainly still getting plenty of value out of the Buckeye state, with four recruits in this class.

But this year’s state of interest? You’d have to say Florida.

NU signed four players from Florida in Pelini's previous classes combined -- Tyler Moore and Mauro Bondi in 2011, Brion Carnes in 2010 and Antonio Bell in 2008.

Now, consider that Nebraska has received commitments from three Florida athletes in the last month alone -- from wide receiver Dominic Walker, defensive tackle Kevin Maurice and defensive end Ernest Suttles.

And the Huskers are still pursuing other Florida players, such as wide receiver James Clark and defensive back Boaz Joseph, who was among five recruits visiting Lincoln this weekend.

Nebraska’s increased focus on Florida makes sense, not only because of the talent throughout the state, but also because of the ties the Big Ten has through its bowl alliances.

Maurice is the prime example of the connection that can be formed by setting up shop in a recruit's backyard during bowl season.

He played for Freedom High School, where Nebraska has practiced during its past two bowl trips.

As for a complete breakdown of where the commitments in this class are from? Four are from Ohio, three from Florida, two from California and Missouri, and one each from Arizona, Louisiana, Indiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, New Jersey, South Dakota, Texas, Nebraska and Ontario, Canada.

While the most are from Ohio and Florida, from a headliner standpoint, perhaps the California kids steal the show.

Based on Rivals.com's ratings, Nebraska got the seventh-ranked player in the talent-rich state in running back Terrell Newby and No. 42 player in quarterback Johnny Stanton.

* By position

The breakdown so far: Five defensive linemen, three defensive backs, three linebackers and then a Noah’s ark routine with two wide receivers, two offensive linemen, two running backs and two tight ends.

Add to that one quarterback and one long snapper in Gabriel Miller, who is the surest bet of any recruit to play next season.

That’s 11 recruits on defense, nine on offense and one special-teamer.

The numbers are about like you’d probably expect.

Most would cite defensive line as Nebraska's greatest need.

Memories of the depth issues that forced undersized Cameron Meredith to play inside at defensive tackle the second half of the season are fresh.

NU’s response has been to add three defensive ends -- Suttles, A.J. Natter and junior college product Randy Gregory -- and two defensive tackles -- Maliek Collins and Maurice.

It’s pure guesswork to say who could have an immediate impact, but the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Gregory is certainly one player Nebraska coaches could hope to step up in a hurry.

The recruit from Arizona Western Community College is ranked 11th by Rivals among all juco prospects.

And while Nebraska had a tough December of recruiting misses on juco defensive tackles, the addition of Collins and Maurice in early January look to bolster depth inside.

When predicting who could get on the field quickest, it’s always best to highlight those already on campus.

Singleton, Love and Knevel will have the advantage of participating in spring ball.

Singleton is especially worth keeping track of, since he was part of Wisconsin's 2012 recruiting class. Grade issues pushed back his chance to play college ball, and now he’s in Lincoln.

His situation is somewhat like that of Charles Jackson, who sat out the 2011 season while qualifying academically. If Singleton can have the success Jackson did his first year -- a key part of Nebraska's special teams, and now seemingly a strong candidate at safety -- it would be a significant accomplishment.

Meanwhile, at linebacker, Love, Josh Banderas and Marcus Newby walk into a position that has no returning starters.

Youth is going to be given its chance there. But the newcomers will have to be quick studies if they’re going to battle for time in 2013 against other young players who have at least spent a year learning the ins and outs of the defense.

Then there’s the running back position. Nebraska maybe made its biggest splash there, gaining commitments from one of the top backs in Texas (Adam Taylor) and California (Terrell Newby).

Running back is a position where you more often seem to see players contribute early in their careers. But does Nebraska redshirt at least one or both those recruits with Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Braylon Heard returning?

If Terrell Newby and Taylor have the same line of thinking as Abdullah, Aaron Green and Heard had two years ago, they’ll be eager to play right away.

Decisions, decisions.

The good thing for Husker coaches is they still have seven months to figure that out.

* What’s still needed?

Recruiting coordinator Ross Els said recently that defensive linemen, offensive linemen, wide receivers and cornerbacks were main focuses to finish off the class.

He also said Nebraska would take the best guys available regardless of position.

Since that conversation, NU has added a defensive end and tight end. The Huskers lost an offensive lineman, with Dan Samuelson decommitting and picking Michigan.

Of all those target areas, O-line would seem to be the one Nebraska needs to hit the hardest down the stretch.

And it seems Husker coaches are thinking the same thing.

Of this weekend’s recruiting visitors, three are offensive linemen. Two (Matt Finnin and Chongo Kondolo) are junior college players. The other is high schooler Dwayne Johnson from Houston.

A lot of things could still happen in the weeks ahead. Nebraska could add at least four more recruits. 

And if history has taught us anything, it’s that there will be a new name or two, or more,  emerge in the final weeks.

As for Husker fans hoping to avoid sitting through a hat-choosing ceremony on signing day this year? Don't count on it. You all know by now, that spectacle is the gift that keeps on giving.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

Copyright 2015 JournalStar.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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