{{featured_button_text}}

As the snow piled up at the doorsteps of Nebraskans' homes, an in-state prospect and a four-star defensive back from the coast delivered the sunshine.

One of the top 150 players in the country according to all recruiting sites, Lamar Jackson is in the Husker fold, making his announcement known in a dramatic 2½-minute video produced by Bleacher Report.

"It was everything Nebraska has to offer," Jackson told the Journal Star. "Playing in front of 90,000 every week, the streak of sellouts, the trustworthy coaching staff, the plan. Everything just kind of fell in place."

Husker fans didn't seem to mind his video as much as the one made by wide receiver Desmond Fitzpatrick, who on Monday picked Louisville over the Huskers. Perhaps that's because Jackson's came with a feel-good ending, with the recruit grabbing a Nebraska hat from a fan and saying, "Go Big Red."

California lovin' on such a winter's day.

Mike Johnson, Jackson's coach at Franklin High in Elk Grove, California, was not surprised at the choice. Whenever they talked about the recruiting process, Jackson kept telling him the same thing about Nebraska. "Football is everything there," the recruit would say.

"He told me out of all the trips he took, he was most impressed with Nebraska … just with the fans and the personal attention he was given that week," Johnson said.

The passion for Husker football is something Nebraska's other commitment of the day — tight end David Engelhaupt of Norfolk Catholic — has known ever since he could walk.

Offered on Monday night, Engelhaupt accepted the Husker opportunity by Tuesday morning, moving on from Craig Bohl's Wyoming program to realize a dream.

"I didn't see it coming at all," Engelhaupt said of the Husker offer. "Honestly, I was shocked at first. But I'm honored. It's awesome."

That news started to put Husker fans in a good mood. An hour later, Jackson's video had them elated.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound defensive back, who is often listed as a safety but expects to play boundary corner for NU, never pushed that passion of the fan base from his mind. Forming a close bond with assistants Brian Stewart and Keith Williams, Jackson was intrigued enough with the Huskers that he drove several hours to Oakland just to watch Nebraska conduct a bowl practice in December.

He followed through with a commitment, picking the Huskers over the likes of Arizona State and Arizona and in-state school USC.

He gives Nebraska 21 recruits in this class. He also becomes Nebraska's highest-rated prospect, ranked No. 76 overall among all players by Rivals.com.

On the eve of Signing Day, Jackson's commitment vaulted NU to 24th nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, which factors the rankings of all the recruiting sites. It appears NU's class may stop at 21, with four-star athlete Isaiah Simmons picking Clemson on Tuesday.

Still, it's worth keeping an eye on a four-star runinng back/fullback out of Carmichael, California, named Beau Bisharat, whom the Huskers offered Monday. He is close with Jackson. Played 7-on-7 with him. Once committed to Stanford, Bisharat has Arizona State among other attractive options on the table, but could opt to not sign on signing day and visit Nebraska this weekend if he so desired.

That's a story to follow. Jackson's story, meanwhile, is one of growth. He didn't play for Johnson's team as a freshman because he wasn't academically eligible.

"He was a big, athletic freshman, but young, immature," Johnson said. "I called him into the office and talked to him, called his mom right in front of him, and said, 'Hey, if you want my support, you've got my support. But we've got to get this kid academically on the right path so he can start playing sports.' From that point on, Lamar turned it around."

It's a turnaround Jackson is understandably proud of. He agrees his biggest problem was immaturity.

"Once it finally clicked in my head, I just felt myself getting more mature," he said. "Everything came a little bit easier: my work ethic, my dedication in the classroom. That was all part of me growing up and realizing what's important and what's not."

He was on the varsity team as a sophomore. Played quarterback. "Took us to the second round of the playoffs as a 15-year-old," Johnson said.

It was during Jackson's senior year that coaches started using him fully on the defensive side of the ball. It worked out in his favor. The recruiters flocked.

The only thing Johnson felt bad about for his top-level prospect was that he was sometimes, quite frankly, bored.

"There weren't a lot of highlights because nobody threw at him, which is smart," the coach said. "I wouldn't throw at the 6-3, 205-pound DB either."

At the end of the year the starting quarterback was injured, so Johnson got him back to playing QB, too.

Those last three games? "He had a lot of fun." He put on a show at two positions.

"He's a great kid," Johnson said. "No behavioral discipline. At times, I think he's actually too sweet. He just plays at a different level. Nebraska is getting a gem."

Closer to home, Engelhaupt was having one magical snow day.

"Its been pretty crazy," Engelhaupt said of his last 24 hours. A good kind of crazy.

The recruit from Norfolk Catholic joins Ashland-Greenwood's Ben Stille as the second in-state prospect in the class.

He had been committed to Wyoming since July.

But after his basketball practice on Monday, he was told by the Huskers they had a scholarship for him if he wanted it.

Engelhaupt talked it over with his parents Monday night. Playing at Nebraska was his dream but he didn't want to say yes without at least some conversation about it.

"It was actually really difficult" to part ways with Wyoming, he said. "I got to know those coaches really well. It was tough."

At 6-4, 235-pounds, Engelhaupt was a standout linebacker and ballcarrier for Norfolk Catholic. He was a Class C-1 all-stater the past two years, a Journal Star's second-team Super-Stater in 2014 and 2015.

He was going to play defense at Wyoming, but is being viewed as an H-back by Nebraska.

"I'm excited about that," he said. "That's something I kind of always wanted to play."

Engelhaupt had caught the notice of the Husker staff at a Friday Night Lights camp in June. He thought an offer was possible. But time kept moving.

"As time kept on going, I didn't expect much from them," he said.

On Monday, it all changed. Maybe an offer didn't come from Nebraska in June, but it came, and that's all that matters.

"It's always been something I've wanted to do, ever since I was a little kid."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

0
0
0
0
0

Nebraska's 2016 recruits

A closer look at Nebraska's recruiting class for 2016.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (School)
Quayshon Alexander LB 6-3 230 Wayne, N.J. (De Paul Catholic)
DiCaprio Bootle CB 5-11 175 Miami, Fla. (Southridge)
Bryan Brokop OL 6-5 280 New Lenox, Ill. (Lincoln-Way West)
Marquel Dismuke DB 6-2 170 Calabasas, Calif.
JoJo Domann LB 6-1 210 Colorado Springs, Colo. (Pine Creek)
Patrick O'Brien QB 6-3 230 San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (San Juan Hills)
John Raridon OL 6-4 270 West Des Moines, Iowa (Valley)
Greg Simmons LB 6-2 225 Fort Pierce, Fla. (Central)
JD Spielman ATH 5-8 175 Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Ben Stille DE 6-4 230 Ashland-Greenwood
Jack Stoll TE 6-5 225 Aurora, Colo. (Regis Jesuit)
Boe Wilson OL 6-2 280 Lee's Summit, Mo. (West)
Derrion Grim WR 5-11 190 Stockton, Calif.
Tre Bryant RB 5-10 198 St. Louis, Mo.
Caleb Lighbourn P/K 6-2 215 Camas, Wash.
Tony Butler DB 6-2 197 Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward)
Pernell Jefferson LB 6-2 236 New Orleans, La. (Warren Easton)
Collin Miller DE 6-3 235 Fishers, Ind. (Hamilton Southeast)
Matt Farniok OT 6-5 320 Sioux Falls, S.D. (Washington)
David Engelhaupt TE 6-4 235 Norfolk Catholic
Lamar Jackson CB 6-2 205 Elk Grove, Calif. (Franklin)
Load comments