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Wandale Robinson

Western Hills' Wandale Robinson (1) is a prolific running back recruit from Kentucky.

When all the national letters of intent are signed, sealed and faxed, this week will likely be remembered as a linchpin stretch for Nebraska’s 2019 recruiting class.

The Huskers were unable to make it a clean sweep — talented all-purpose back Wandale Robinson (Frankfort, Kentucky) changed his mind in the final 24 hours before a Thursday announcement, picking home-state Kentucky over NU — but landed three touted players in a seven-day span.

Robinson, who has 41 touchdowns this season and has rushed for nearly 6,700 yards and compiled 126 touchdowns in his eye-popping prep career, would have been among the class’ highest-profile members, both for his long string of highlight-reel plays, his personality and his seemingly glovelike fit in coach Scott Frost’s offense.

But the trick in recruiting is so often to focus on what you have instead of what you don’t, and Nebraska is likely feeling quite good in that department, too, thank you very much.

Four-star receiver Darien Chase (Vancouver, Washington) kicked off a fruitful stretch when he gave his verbal pledge to the program last Thursday, four-star tackle Bryce Benhart (Lakeville, Minnesota) followed suit Sunday, and three-star defensive back Javin Wright followed in his father’s footsteps Wednesday.

All three players will begin their careers at positions of need for Nebraska and all three were coveted by the staff.

With just less than seven weeks until the early signing period, NU has a 20-man class that ranks No. 18 in the country according to Rivals and No. 22 according to the 247Sports composite.

“We are on the hunt. I like where we are right now, I like a bunch of the other guys that we’re in the game with and we have a really good shot at,” Frost said this week.

While many schools in the country will sign classes of about 20 players, Nebraska is shooting for a much bigger number. In fact, given the current scholarship situation, the Huskers plan to sign up to 30 players. They also expect to be actively searching in the graduate transfer market.

Schools are capped at 25 “initial counters” each year, but NU has several players who plan to enroll early and five of them are eligible to be counted back to the 2018 class.

Those approximate numbers, a person in the program said, should allow Nebraska to still shoot for a class number in the low to mid-20s for 2020. The math works out. When a 16-man senior class graduates and several already-departed players such as Tristan Gebbia, Tyjon Lindsey, Greg Bell and others come off the scholarship count at the end of this semester, the Huskers will already have about 25 scholarships open. That, of course, is before what is sure to be another wave of postseason attrition from underclassmen.

Where will NU find the final third of its class? Several prospects that have visited this fall remain uncommitted, including defensive backs Noa Pola-Gates (Gilbert, Arizona), Tavian Mayo (Leesburg, Georgia) and Jamel Starks (Decatur, Georgia); and linemen Brant Banks (Houston) and Dohnovan West (Mission Hills, California). Many more will visit in November and December, as NU has used only 20 of its 56 allotted official visits for the year, though some of those may well be held until the spring.

Factor in a targeted walk-on class size of 20 to 25, and the Huskers could add somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 players this cycle. That would mean approximately 110 new faces in less than 18 months for this coaching staff.

“The coaches have been doing a really good job of balancing working with the team and working their butts off in recruiting to help add to the talent we have here,” Frost said.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School) Stars
Matthew Anderson OT 6-7 250 Leesville, La. ***
Bryce Benhart OT 6-9 305 Lakeville, Minn. (North) ****
Desmond Bland OL 6-4 300 Flossmoor, Ill. (Arizona Western C.C.) ****
Darien Chase WR 6-1 175 Vancouver, Wash. (Union) ****
Myles Farmer DB 6-3 180 Atlanta (Westlake) ***
Jamin Graham OLB 6-6 240 Attalla, Ala. (Etowah) ***
Jackson Hannah ILB 6-3 220 Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell) ****
Nick Henrich ILB 6-4 210 Omaha (Burke) ****
Chris Hickman TE 6-5 220 Omaha (Burke) ***
Rahmir Johnson RB 5-10 170 Oradell, N.J. (Bergen Catholic) ****
Michael Lynn OT 6-7 300 Englewood, Colo. (Cherry Creek) ***
Luke McCaffrey QB 6-3 185 Littleton, Colo. (Valor Christian) ***
Dedrick Mills RB 5-10 227 Waycross, Ga. (Garden City C.C.) ***
Jamie Nance WR 6-0 170 Blanchard, Okla. ***
Garrett Nelson OLB 6-3 235 Scottsbluff ***
Mosai Newsom DE 6-5 260 Waverly, Iowa (Waverly-Shell Rock) ***
Quinton Newsome DB 6-2 180 Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett) ***
Ethan Piper DL 6-4 275 Norfolk (Catholic) ***
Wandale Robinson RB 5-9 180 Frankfurt, Ky. (Western Hills) ****
Garrett Snodgrass ATH 6-3 225 York ***
Ronald Thompkins RB 6-0 203 Loganville, Ga. (Grayson) ***
Javin Wright DB 6-3 195 Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton) ***

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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