Friday Night Lights, 6/22

Scottsbluff's Garrett Nelson (29) and Husker recruit Luke McCaffrey (right) take in the camp atmosphere as Lincoln Southwest's Caden McCormack looks on in June during Friday Night Lights at Memorial Stadium. 

Scott Frost readily admitted Wednesday during his National Signing Day news conference that he was good and ready to be off the recruiting trail and back in Lincoln.

Much of his recent weeks bouncing around the country were spent meeting with high school coaches in cities and schools that Nebraska figures to recruit heavily in the 2020 class and into the future.

The Huskers, though, were also putting the finishing touches on the 2019 class, which culminated with the signing of wide receiver Demariyon Houston out of Oklahoma City.

While all of that was happening, though, more than a quarter of the 2019 class was already here on campus taking part in the first month of winter conditioning.

Frost and the coaches are limited in the amount of direct work they can do with players this time of year, but the reports on NU’s eight newcomers are positive.

A refresher: The midyear enrollees for the Huskers this year include Oklahoma State graduate transfer defensive lineman Darrion Daniels, quarterback Luke McCaffrey, all-purpose back Wandale Robinson, in-state linebackers Nick Henrich and Garrett Nelson, in-state tight end Chris Hickman, wide receiver Jamie Nance and defensive lineman Brant Banks.

“All these kids that are here, I think, have leadership potential,” Frost said Wednesday. “The great thing is they’re not the only ones and we have some more coming.”

McCaffrey, the lone quarterback in the class, drew particularly high praise from the head coach.

“I don’t know if I have seen a kid work harder in an offseason to learn an offense than Luke,” Frost said. ”He has been kind of a little bit of the ringleader of that group already.”

Robinson came directly to Lincoln from the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where he compiled over 100 total yards, consistently impressed during the week and put a capper on what was a remarkable prep career in high school. He’s the single most-heralded prospect in the class and draws regular comparisons nationally to Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman.

No pressure, right?

Frost didn’t put that on the 5-10, 180-pounder, but he said Robinson is catching on fast.

“Wandale is kind of the same way (as McCaffrey), coming in and learning,” he said. “He is going to be able to play more than one position in his first year because of the way he learns and the way he approaches things.”

Really, you can go right on down the list.

“Nick Henrich is cerebral and smart and a problem-solver and tough and I know he is going to be a leader on defense,” Frost continued. “Garret Nelson is a wild man, I love it. His energy is going to lead us in some good directions. Chris Hickman, same way. Brant Banks, same way. Jamie Nance is doing a good job.”

Daniels is in a bit of a different spot because he’s a senior. The defensive lineman brings experience and a different perspective from Stillwater, though, and is the older brother of junior defensive lineman Damion Daniels. The older brother was a four-year contributor at OSU but was hurt four games into the 2018 season and retained a final year of eligibility. He was consistently recognized for his leadership there and even traveled with the team last fall after his injury to provide a leadership presence.

“You don’t become a captain of a team unless you’re a good teammate, and we want kids who are good teammates,” Frost said.

A year ago, the midyear group included quarterback Adrian Martinez, offensive lineman Will Farniok, kicker Barret Pickering, the since-departed Justin McGriff and Greg Bell and junior college transfers Deontai Williams and Will Honas.

The eight already on campus are just the beginning, as Frost pointed out, and just because they’re here early doesn’t mean they all will catch on immediately. A look back at last year’s group shows it ran the gamut in Year 1. But there’s no denying the NU staff likes where the latest group is headed.

“I don’t know if I have seen an incoming class in my career that has me as excited (as this one does),” Frost said. … “I don’t think we are going to be short on leadership from this class.”

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


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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