Ross Els came down first. Terry Joseph came down next. There were coaches from 42 different universities that Chip Killian has counted as recently coming through the doors of Hendrickson High School in central Texas.
There's some good football talent walking those halls, including four-star running back and Oklahoma commit Samaje Perine. But no one from any school had offered a 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback named Trai Mosley.
“You look on paper, you see 5-10, 170. He looks like 100 other guys on paper,” said Killian, the Hendrickson head coach. “Then you look at him on film. Then you come eyeball him face to face, and he really jumps out at you how good he is, how strong he is.”
Els and Joseph had seen that film on Mosley. It was good enough in their minds for the Huskers to send a representative down to Pflugerville, Texas, two different times.
It was good enough that they wanted Mosley to come work out for them at a Husker summer camp. And all that sounded good enough to Mosley that he drove 13 hours to Lincoln to do just that.
That’s a long car ride with no guaranteed payoff.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Killian said.
Some road trips are worth the gas money. You know the story by now: Mosley worked out for Nebraska's secondary coach Joseph on June 15, then got an offer and accepted it before putting head to pillow that night.
It was the latest, and perhaps greatest example, of what has become one of the lead story lines of this Husker recruiting cycle: Nebraska coaches are trusting their own scouting above all else, unafraid to offer those with few or even no other offers.
Whether Nebraska's approach is a good or bad one won't be known until years down the road.
But Husker recruiting coordinator Els said last week, before the recruiting haul of Big Red Weekend, that he felt some spring digging on under-the-radar prospects by Nebraska coaches is giving them more options than in previous years.
“It's hard in this day and age to find a kid that everybody doesn't know about, and we've found a couple we really liked,” Els said. “And then as soon as we got on them, then the Texases and Oklahomas started to jump on the bandwagon. But I thought our guys really did a good job of finding more kids this year. I think our pool is bigger than what it's been."
Nebraska was Mosley’s first offer, though SMU and Texas State immediately jumped aboard with invitations after.
Then there’s the case of cornerback Jason Hall, a defensive back from Grand Prairie, Texas, who had only an offer from North Texas when the Huskers extended one.
After Hall committed to Nebraska, schools like Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor were all suddenly ready to offer him, too.
Such is the recruiting game.
“No question there’s a lot of piggybacking that goes on,” said Steve Wiltfong, a national reporter for 247Sports. “Schools are monitoring those recruiting websites, monitoring those who are getting offers. And coaches can then go check out a kid's film so quickly with things like Hudl and Youtube now. A coach can watch a recruit's film at 8 a.m., have it to the defensive coordinator by 8:30, and have it to the desk of the head coach by 9 to make an offer.”
But in the cases of certain recruits, those later offers might be too late after another school first showed faith in a prospect.
“It's pretty big,” Killian said about the advantage of being the school to offer first. “Now, it’s going to depend on the kid. It’s going to depend on how much sunshine's been blown on him by other schools. But when a kid gets that first one that's a solid real deal, a school that plays big-boy football, that’s going to carry some weight.”
When Nebraska offered Mosley, Killian talked to his cornerback about the opportunities that would come with accepting it. There’d be trips to The Big House and Horseshoe, among other things.
“As much as I wish Nebraska was still in the Big 12, I told Trai the Big Ten is big-boy football," Killian said.
Mosley has said he's "100 percent committed" to Nebraska. Whether a recruit such as Hall can be swayed away with delayed offers by schools closer to home remains to be seen.
Either way, Hall's recruiting case shows one way for Nebraska coaches to try to combat the recruiting disadvantage of location is to trust their own eyeballs and sources, and beat other schools that might be dragging their feet on a prospect to the offer table.
“I’m not saying Nebraska couldn’t beat Oklahoma straight up for a recruit, but this certainly helps them getting in early,” Wiltfong said of a recruit such as Hall.
Granted, the recruiting rankings probably aren’t going to favor a class with such less-trumpeted prospects. While Nebraska gained momentum by going from two commits to nine in an eight-day span, the class still sits outside the Top 25 of the various rankings.
Rivals.com ranks Nebraska’s class 33rd, 247Sports has it 38th and FoxSportsNext positions it at 42nd.
Of course, if you think a recruit like Mosley has the goods, a college coach isn't going to worry what the recruiting rankings have to say about him.
And Killian is confident Mosley has the goods.
The cornerback, who also returns kicks and punts, posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.43 seconds in front of Husker coaches. Killian said Mosley also has a 37-inch vertical leap to go with long arms, which make it difficult on receivers when he plays press coverage.
“And you just wait,” the coach said. “He likes to hit people.”
Mosley is apparently just as fired up about his recent commitment. When he showed up to his school for strength training Monday, fresh off his weekend trip to Lincoln, Killian noticed his player was decked out in a Nebraska shirt, shorts and hat.
Killian doesn’t usually like seeing the color red worn at the high school. The school colors are navy and silver.
But, in this case, he found it quite acceptable.
“Nebraska stole one,” he said.