The Nebraska football team broke with tradition for Junior Day this year, and it paid off in a big way.
The Huskers usually bring in next year’s recruits sometime after Signing Day. This year, however, the juniors were in Lincoln the weekend before Signing Day and Nebraska made off with a big haul.
Four-star recruits Christian Gaylord (6-foot-6, 270 pounds, OT, Baldwin City, Kan.), Avery Anderson (6-1, 174, CB, Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Eric Lee (5-10, 170, CB, Highlands Ranch, Colo.), as well as Kendall Bussey (5-9, 190, RB, New Orleans) all made pledges to give NU a fast start to the 2015 class. Those four gave the Huskers the early top-ranked class in the Big Ten.
Last season, the first oral commitment was Lincoln Southeast defensive back Luke Gifford in March.
“We did a great job of bringing kids in here (for Junior Day),” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “It was a big weekend because we had official visitors in with the recruits. I think it worked out well.”
Anderson and Lee are products of new defensive backs coach Charlton Warren, who previously worked at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. New Orleans has become a fertile recruiting ground for Nebraska recently, with three recruits in the class of 2014.
Where else will Nebraska go for 2015? The Huskers would like to make more of an impact in states that are in the Big Ten footprint (Ohio, Pennsylvania) but recruited successfully in the South this year. With Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, the Maryland/Washington, D.C., and New York/New Jersey areas could yield some fruit.
Among the big fish (i.e., five-star recruits) Nebraska has offered, according to Scout.com, are Martez Ivy, a 6-5, 291-pound offensive tackle who was a teammate of 2014 recruit Zack Darlington at Apopka, Fla.; Tim Settle, a 6-3, 310-pound defensive tackle from Manassas, Va.; Cordell Broadus, a 6-1, 185-pound receiver who was a teammate of 2014 recruit Nick Gates at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, and Sotonye Jamabo, a 6-1, 190-pound running back from the hometown of former Husker Rex Burkhead (Plano, Texas).
This year’s in-state crop of players includes 3,000-yard rusher Calvin Strong (5-9, 175) from Class A state champion Omaha North. Strong doesn’t have blazing speed but has terrific balance and was simply unstoppable in 2013. Other in-state players to watch are Syracuse offensive lineman Matt Clark (6-5, 285), Omaha North offensive lineman Michael Decker (6-4, 280) and Seward defensive tackle Adam Holtorf (6-4, 250).
Pelini said he liked the 2015 class but wasn’t ready to move on from 2014 just yet.
“I’ll worry about that tomorrow,” Pelini said. “Let’s enjoy this one for a couple of hours.”