Nebraska's fall camp at the running back position just got a whole lot more interesting, with four-star recruit Jordan Stevenson announcing on Thursday he will be a Husker.
Seriously. He's already packing. He plans on arriving to Lincoln on Friday, with the first fall camp practice scheduled in a week. He was getting his bags together as he did an interview, and he says he's coming to Lincoln with a sharp focus.
"Man, it's just about making sure that everything gets understood about what needs to get done moving forward, and making sure I become the best man I've ever been in my life," Stevenson told the Journal Star.
Nebraska's big gain was a gut punch to growing rival Wisconsin, where Stevenson was planning to attend as late as last week before being denied admission.
Stevenson tweeted out the news of his new school over the noon hour, just as Big Ten Media Days was getting started in Chicago, finishing with the message: (Let's) ride BIG RED." He later apologized for one misspelling in that tweet. He explained he was getting a haircut at the time.
Fresh cut. Fresh opportunity. He got the sense from Husker head coach Mike Riley that the chance is there to earn an important role early.
"It's great," he said. "It just lets me know how important I am to them. That stood out."
It didn't hurt that secondary coach Brian Stewart and linebackers coach Trent Bray were both familiar to him. They had recruited him before they came to Nebraska. Having them explain what NU could offer him made a difficult situation much easier.
"They were down-to-earth sound guys," Stevenson said. "They were just real good people, man."
Having signed with Wisconsin in February, the running back from Dallas found out last Thursday he was not going to be admitted there. He was pursued by Nebraska, immediately intrigued, but was also considering Miami and Alabama.
He visited Nebraska first for two days, then Miami two days. Now he might carry the ball for Nebraska against Miami in less than two months.
"He's a big-time running back that can do a little bit of everything," said R.J. Bond, a recruiting and defensive coordinator at the South Oak Cliff High School that produced Stevenson. "Likes to run inside. Has speed to the corner. Smart guy. He does run with power. So in short yardage, he'll get the tough yardage. Real good out of the backfield at catching the ball. He was a guy that when we went empty (backfield), he would be the fifth receiver."
A four-star recruit, he rushed for 2,511 yards and had 31 touchdowns as a senior. Standing 5-feet-8 and just north of 200 pounds, he was expected to come into Wisconsin and try to push starting running back Corey Clement.
Stevenson also can bring value in the return game, according to Bond.
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"I don't know what all Nebraska has in the backfield, but he's definitely a guy that can come in as a freshman and give an offensive spark."
While Bond said he felt the running back's "head was spinning those first 48 to 72 hours" after finding out he wouldn't be admitted to Wisconsin, he said Stevenson showed his maturity this past week.
Stevenson, a very spiritual young man, said he put his trust in God. "Through the whole process, you can't do nothing without faith. That's what got me through it. Without that and (my family), I'm telling you I wouldn't be at this point."
Added Bond: "I think he handled it as well as you can ask an 18-year-old to handle something to happen to him the way it did. Shoot, I don't know that an adult would be prepared for something like that to happen, so I think he handled it probably as well as he could. He is a mature-thinking young man. He will have some deep-thinking conversations with you that make you think he's older than how he is."
It's not the first time Wisconsin's high admissions standards have lost the Badgers a recruit. It was a hot topic in the Wisconsin camp during Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, with Badger coach Paul Chryst asked about the admissions process on multiple occasions.
"He did everything that we said. You need to do this and he did it," Chryst said. "So I think it's just (about) what we're being told and what we're telling the kid is accurate."
Stevenson had been asked by Wisconsin to retake a test to better the score. He did so last week, but was still denied admission.
High academic standards at Wisconsin was said to be one reason Gary Andersen recently left as the school's head coach after just two seasons.
"It's been well (documented) there were some kids I couldn't get in school," Andersen told CBS Sports in January. "That was highly frustrating to me. I lost some guys, and I told them I wasn't going to lose them. I think they did what they were supposed to do and they still couldn't get in. That was really hard to deal with."
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told media on Thursday that the appeals process between the athletic department and the admissions office changed about five years ago. He'd like to see it go back to the way it was.
Wisconsin coaches used to be able to make appeals on behalf of an athlete to colleges within the university. That happens no longer.
“I’d like to do it the old way, because I think it’s only fair to our coaches and some student-athletes that their stories should be heard,” Alvarez told the Wisconsin State Journal. “They should have the right to have an appeal.”
At Nebraska, Stevenson will join a running back room with six scholarship players, joining senior Imani Cross, junior Terrell Newby, sophomore Adam Taylor, redshirt freshman Mikale Wilbon and incoming freshman Devine Ozigbo. Taylor (Katy) and Ozigbo (Sachse) also come from Texas.
After news of the Stevenson addition, Andy Vaughn, Nebraska's director of football and recruiting operations, tweeted out a line about things being bigger in Texas. In the feel-good moment, he also added this big picture thought on Husker recruiting: "We don't have to back down to anyone so don't be shocked now!"