Husker head coach Mike Riley asked a favor of the Husker fan base and Nebraska fans answered.

There weren't quite 10,000 inside Memorial Stadium on Friday night, but halfway through the recruiting spectacle there were 6,718 people who had been counted walking through the gates.

The West Stadium was a red blanket, with a crowd more than 4,000 fans larger than last year's very successful Friday Nights Lights event.

"I didn't know what to really expect," Riley said. "I think it was awesome. What a great, electric atmosphere. We really appreciate it. That's a pretty good picture for some of those guys that are coming, and both thinking about coming, tonight."

At one point, a fan started chanting the name "T.J. Pledger." He is a put-together running back from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, who is currently committed to Oklahoma.

Perhaps what happened next will make a young man think.

It was just one voice saying his name for a few seconds. Then other voices joined in. Soon almost everyone in the crowd was saying it. "T - J - Pledger ... T - J - Pledger ... T - J - Pledger."

The running back smiled, he waved. He knew he was wanted.

Then the crowd decided a few minutes later to chant another name. This time they targeted a five-star defensive end from Harrisburg, Pennslyania. "Mic ... ah ... Parsons" the crowd chanted, and repeated, and repeated.

Parsons acknowledged them by throwing the bones. "Nebraska love is really different!!" he tweeted at night's end.

Roll your eyes at star ratings if you will, but no one would debate the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Parsons is a five-star talent after watching him move around.

He received individual attention from both John Parrella and Trent Bray in the back of the end zone.

"I like working with our coaching staff," Riley said. "I think we have some real bulldogs that really bust their tail to do a good job in this area."

Parsons got his work in, then had some fun, deciding to try his hand at wide receiver near the end of the night during one-on-one drills.

He twice blew past two four-star defensive backs to catch touchdowns at a position he doesn't even play. The only thing he can't do is cover a slot receiver, as found out when he tried his hand at DB.

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Parsons played to the crowd. So did the defensive back who seems to be the Husker fan favorite in this class: Brendan "Bookie" Radley-Hiles.

He didn't disappoint. The first time he was tested, he picked the pass off. The second time he was tested, he swooped in at just the right moment to bat it away. The third time he was tested, he picked the pass off again.

The field was full of playmakers. One of them was wide receiver Joshua Moore, the four-star recruit who committed to Nebraska just this past Sunday.

Another was four-star receiver Manuel Allen, another Husker commit. After he caught a touchdown pass after — it must be said — pushing off, the defensive back got up to complain. NU wide receivers coach Keith Williams didn't care. He went and jumped into Allen and celebrated.

Another playmaker on the scene was Cameron Brown, the talented receiver from St. Louis, who decommitted from Nebraska few weeks ago but was here in Lincoln on this night feeling the vibes.

When four-star cornerback Christian Tutt covered him well on one play and batted the pass away, the two exchanged a respectful handshake.

Good competition, good fun.

"They got a good glimpse of our fans think about our team," Riley said. "And maybe our future team."

Memorial Stadium has a certain special quality when the lights are on, the coach will tell you. You feel something. And almost 7,000 fans showing up for a camp in June might make you feel something more.

Enough for a few commits? Riley hopes.

Certainly a few memories. CJ Jones, a junior from Lincoln High, will always have one of this night. He made a one-handed catch. It was such a highlight that several current Huskers and a few of the night's headliners like Bookie started running with him to the end zone, trying to lift him on their shoulders when they got there.

It was hard to walk away seeing it other than a very good night for Husker football.

Camping comes to an end, but the chase remains.

"The one thing about recruiting is you can never relax," Riley said. "You have to keep your commitments and you got to find the next guy, but it sure is fun."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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