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Friday Night Lights, 6/22

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco (left) watches players warm up with Huskers commit Luke McCaffrey on June 22 during Friday Night Lights at Memorial Stadium.

Welcome to Husker Extra's recruiting ticker, where we'll track the happenings in Nebraska football recruiting as a three-week contact period progresses. Check back here throughout the day for updates. 

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco is in a slightly different spot from most of his fellow assistants at NU. His room is smaller than others and he's only looking for one player in each cycle. 

Not only that, but he's already set for 2019 and 2020 thanks to verbal commitments from Luke McCaffrey (Littleton, Colorado) and Logan Smothers (Athens, Alabama). 

Verduzco said last week that, in addition to seeing those two players, he'll be turning his attention to 2021 prospects during the current contact period. 

"Me and (head coach Scott Frost) and (recruiting personnel) Sean Dillon and (Trent) Mossbrucker and Ryan Callaghan talked about, 'We’re ahead, let’s stay ahead,'" Verduzco said then. 

Verduzco was part of a group of coaches that saw McCaffrey, along with Scottsbluff outside linebacker Garrett Nelson and tackle Michael Lynn (Englewood, Colorado), on Sunday. Then he separated from the group and is making rounds on the West Coast for the early part of the week. Verduzco is expected to stop at several schools in California and elsewhere out West before a late-week trip to Alabama to see Smothers. 

While the Huskers may have targets in 2021 — they've offered legacy four-star Jake Garcia (Narbonne, California), son of Randy Garcia — the time element allows Verduzco and company to see a lot of players if they so choose. 

Verduzco last week made clear, though, that they aren't looking at other signal-callers in 2019 or 2020. 

"No, we’re good," he said. "Maybe in other years you might (consider taking more than one). But we have other needs and we feel good about the room that we’ve got right now. We’re pretty excited about that. We’re going to be fine."

Verduzco isn't in California just looking for quarterbacks, though. He was at Modesto Christian High on Tuesday, where the Huskers offered 2020 defensive end/tight end Xavier Carlton. Carlton goes 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, is rated a four-star prospect and has offers from Notre Dame, USC, UCLA and many others.  

A coast-to-coast search for front-seven players: Nebraska had coaches from California to New Jersey looking for impact defensive players on Tuesday.

Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander was in California, but further south than Verduzco. He stopped by Riverside Community College in California to see a pair of junior college linebackers.

Teammates Vic Viramontes and Nick Figueroa are both on the Huskers' radar screen. It's unclear exactly how many defensive junior college players NU will take or how much room they will have ahead of the December date, but these are two guys to keep an eye on.

In South Florida, outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt worked familiar territory and saw a familiar face.

Dewitt stopped by Lakeland High, where 2019 four-star pass-rusher Lloyd Summerall plays. Summerall, who has offers from all of the power players in Florida, visited Lincoln for the Michigan State game and saw snow for the first time.

Summerall has official visits lined up to Florida on Dec. 7 and Miami on Dec. 13, according to his 247Sports profile.

Lakeland is still playing this fall and faces Edgewater in the Florida Class 7A semifinals on Friday night.

Further up the East Coast, defensive line coach Mike Dawson was in New Jersey to see fast-rising 2019 defensive end Smith Vilbert.

Vilbert, who confirmed the visit to the Journal Star, is listed at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds and has seen his recruitment explode in recent months. He said he does not yet know if he will take an official visit to Nebraska and it’s unclear if he’ll sign in December or wait until February. As a guy garnering extensive interest late in the process, he might be a candidate to wait until the later signing date. Currently, he is slated to visit Oregon this weekend.

Dawson was also expected to see 2019 Husker verbal commit Rahmir Johnson, the standout running back at Bergen Catholic in Oradell, New Jersey, on Tuesday.

Coaching carousel watch: A staff shakeup on the West Coast could have an impact on Nebraska's recruiting efforts. 

Even though USC kept head coach Clay Helton, the school is overhauling the staff underneath him. Defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze was fired as part of the changes. Udeze was the primary recruiter for four-star defensive end Ty Robinson, who is also considering Nebraska, Alabama and others. 

 THat could have an impact on Robinson's thinking as he moves closer to a decision. 

More Georgia time Tuesday: Several Nebraska coaches, including head coach Scott Frost, were expected to continue recruiting in the Atlanta area for a good chunk of Tuesday. 

They were visiting a pair of verbal commits in running back Ronald Thompkins (Grayson High) and rangy defensive back Quinton Newsome (North Gwinnett). NU was set to meet with Thompkins, who missed all but one half of one game with a knee injury this year, Tuesday afternoon. 

Then coaches were meeting Newsome for an in-home visit Tuesday night evening. 

Nebraska coaches also stopped by North Forsyth High in an interesting move. That's the school of talented 2019 offensive lineman Jeremy James. James, listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, has been verbally committed to Ole Miss for months. That didn't stop him from using an official visit to Lincoln in September, though. The Huskers had Frost, offensive line coach Greg Austin, tight ends coach Sean Beckton and secondary coach Travis Fisher all together in Georgia. It's likely the coaches saw James at his home, too, since they are making the rounds and visiting other 2019s this evening. 

The Huskers currently have four verbal commitments for Austin's group and would like to take at least five. Can they convince James to join the fold? 

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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