Darien Chase ventured a long way from the Pacific Northwest to take an official visit to Nebraska, but he liked it so much that he decided his recruitment need go no further.
The Vancouver, Washington, athlete gave his verbal commitment to Nebraska on Thursday afternoon, announcing the pledge on Twitter just days after wrapping up a trip to Lincoln.
The Huskers like the 6-foot-1, 175-pound athlete as a wide receiver, though he plays both ways at Union High and many Power Five schools recruited him as a defensive back.
Chase is a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite rankings, that service also considers him the No. 188 overall player in the country and the top 2019 prospect from Washington. Rivals pegs Chase as a three-star prospect and the No. 3 player from the state.
Through eight games, Chase has 40 catches for 475 yards and eight touchdowns. One year ago, his first at Union, he racked up 45 receptions for 1,095 and 14 scores, according to MaxPreps.
“He is pretty dynamic,” Union head coach Rory Rosenbach said this week. “He can do a whole bunch of different things on either side of the ball. For us, he can play anywhere from free safety to outside linebacker, honestly, with his skillset. Offensively, he can probably be any one of our skill position players and be just fine. …
“He’s a guy that can obviously score any time he touches the ball. He can do it with his feet, he can do it with his hands. Probably his best quality as a receiver are his ball skills and hands and ability to focus in traffic and make tough catches when he knows he’s going to get hit.”
Nebraska believes he’s got the speed to fit well in its spread offensive system. Rosenbach sees it every day.
“Great kid. Quiet, unassuming, reserved,” he said. “Sometimes different than what you think of when you think of four-star wide receivers, you know. He’s not a diva in the respect of, ‘Look at me, look at me, attention, attention.’”
In fact, Rosenbach’s favorite story about Chase is from when the already-touted player arrived at Union before his junior year. He was clearly a big-time threat, but at one point early in the season did not have a single pass thrown to him in a game.
“He never said a word,” the coach said proudly. “He blocked and he did what he was asked to do. Didn’t complain, didn’t get down, body language wasn’t bad. That’s kind of rare. There are players who maybe should get one ball a game if they’re lucky and they get mad if they’re not getting six or eight. He’s a guy that should get 12-15 catches a game and when he didn’t get one, he didn’t care. He just said, ‘Hey, we won. I’m good.’”
Chase also used an official visit to Boise State earlier in the month and had offers from schools including Washington and Oregon, but found a home in the Big Ten.
He is the 18th known verbal pledge for the Huskers’ 2019 class and pairs with three-star Jamie Nance (Blanchard, Oklahoma) as receivers in the group.
Nebraska could take more than two receivers in the class, though, Chase and Nance project to replace Stanley Morgan and Tyjon Lindsey on the roster. NU did lose out on 2018 signee Dominick Watt, who did not qualify and ended up at Garden City (Kansas) Community College, too, and put senior Bryan Reimers on scholarship before the season started.
NU is also hoping it’s the first of several dominoes to fall out of a big recruiting weekend. The school hosted four official visitors including Chase and Nance plus defensive backs Tavian Mayo (Leesburg, Georgia) and Noa Pola-Gates (Gilbert, Arizona), and a key 2019 unofficial visitor in tackle Bryce Benhart (Lakeville, Minnesota).
The Huskers certainly wouldn’t complain about a midseason run of commitments, but they’re happy to start here.
Rosenbach is certainly familiar with the Huskers. He talked multiple times with Walters on the phone and he’s an Oregon graduate, so he knew of Frost on the staff. Not only that, but his dad grew up on a farm near Norfolk. His brother is a die-hard Husker fan who, not surprisingly, has been giving him the hard sell in recent days. He remembers Frost’s own recruitment. Now he’s sending a player to play for him.
“I think that Coach Frost, having coached receivers, and Coach Walters are two fantastic men to continue to mold Darien as he becomes a man,” Rosenbach said. “I do think those two men would be really good role models for him to take the next step as a person, not just as a player.”