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Friday Night Lights, 6/22

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost watches the work on the field on June 22 during Friday Night Lights at Memorial Stadium.

After something of a hiatus, it’s time for the return of the Husker Extra football recruiting notebook. The ongoing dead period doesn’t preclude the recruiting wheels from turning, but of course there have been no visits or camps in recent weeks.

So, let’s get to some thoughts and updates:

As of July 12, Nebraska’s 2019 recruiting class includes exactly zero known verbal commitments from Florida, California and Texas combined.

This, with virtual certainty, will not be the case by the time National Signing Days I and II arrive.

And it’s a good reminder of a couple of things: First, even though there are some classes racking up big numbers of players and gaudy rankings and recruiting seems to happen earlier and earlier, there is still a long, long way to go in this cycle.

Last year, NU took eight Florida players, three from California and two from Texas. It’s no guarantee that those exact numbers will be replicated, but they’ve offered 176 in those three states alone for 2019, per 247Sports.

Another 2019 recruiting status check: The Huskers have used exactly zero official visits for the cycle that we know of.

I’ve been asked a few times whether there’s any reason for concern about NU’s current class ranking, which, depending on the service, currently hovers around No. 40 in the nation and No. 10 in the Big Ten.

Short answer: Not even a little bit. Frost has said he wants to use official visits in the fall. He’s said they don’t want to fill up a class too early — and you can bet they’re shooting for another big class. If you remember last winter, the staff showed a considerable amount of late-game prowess in closing 16 new players between Dec. 10 and Feb. 7.

Not everything goes perfectly in recruiting and no two years are the same, but there doesn’t seem to be much reason to doubt that Frost and company will be similarly successful as the coming months unfold.

The Huskers have moved fast to close on players they like — Jamie Nance and Matthew Anderson come to mind — and will continue to do so. The guess here, though, is they also feel good about their ability to use the regular season to further show recruits what they’re trying to build in Lincoln and subsequently turn that into late-cycle commits.

The latest at defensive back: Nebraska has offered a ton of prospects for 2019 in general, and defensive back is no exception. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has talked extensively about what he looks for in players — aggressiveness is important, as is the ability to turn and run — and offers have been extended across the country.

So far, there are no defensive backs in the class, but we’ve seen at least some movement publicly from some of the players Nebraska is targeting for 2019.

They include:

Tiawan Mullen, Pompano Beach, Florida

Mullen has good length at 5-foot-10 and is rated a three-star prospect by both 247Sports and Rivals. A few weeks ago, he included Nebraska in his top five along with Indiana, Ole Miss, TCU and Pittsburgh.

He is reportedly visiting Lincoln officially on Sept. 1 for the Huskers’ season opener against Akron.

Javin Wright, Chandler, Arizona

Wright is the son of former Husker Toby Wright, and is big for a corner at 6-3.

He recently included the Huskers in his top four along with UCLA, Washington and Arizona State. While it looked for a time like NU might secure a commitment quickly after extending a scholarship offer this spring, Wright now could potentially take visits to some or all of his finalists in the fall.

Brendan Gant, Kathleen, Florida

The consensus four-star prospect (6-1, 185) named the Huskers in his top 10 this week, though there’s certainly no shortage of competition. Consider the other names on the list: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Tennessee. Other than that, this one should be a walk in the park for the Huskers.

Cameron Williams, Bakersfield, California

Williams is a four-star defensive back and put the Huskers in his top five last week. The others: USC, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. Williams said he is going to announce his commitment on July 25. That’s a strong list of finalists, of course, and Williams has not visited Lincoln, so this could be something of a long shot for NU.

Noa Pola-Gates, Gilbert, Arizona 

The four-star defensive back put the Huskers in his top 10 last week among a who's who of college football programs around the country.

Pola-Gates (6-2, 180) has not yet used any official visits, so a good sign of progress for NU would be landing one this fall.

Several others, such as Quinton Newsome (Suwanee, Georgia) and Jalen Catalon (Mansfield, Texas) have included their top groups, and we know NU also likes to work behind the scenes. It will be interesting to see how the defensive backfield board develops as official visits continue to be set up and the regular season draws nearer.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School) Stars
Matthew Anderson OT 6-7 250 Leesville, La. ***
Desmond Bland OL 6-4 300 Flossmoor, Ill. (Arizona Western) ****
Tony Fair DT 6-3 330 Pima (Ariz.) C.C. ***
Thomas Grayson RB 6-0 190 Tulsa, Okla. (Booker T. Washington) ***
Jackson Hannah ILB 6-3 220 Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell) ****
Nick Henrich LB 6-4 210 Omaha Burke ****
Rahmir Johnson RB 5-10 170 Oradell, N.J. (Bergen Catholic) ****
Luke McCaffrey QB 6-3 185 Littleton, Colo. (Valor Christian) ***
Jamie Nance WR 6-0 170 Blanchard, Okla. ***
Garrett Nelson OLB 6-3 235 Scottsbluff ***
Ethan Piper DL 6-4 275 Norfolk (Catholic) ***
Garrett Snodgrass ATH 6-3 225 York ***
Ronald Thompkins RB 6-0 203 Loganville, Ga. (Grayson) ***

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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