Nebraska's recruiting class is probably about halfway home now with 12 commits in the bank.
Five of those commits represent the defensive side of the ball: linebackers William Johnson, Greg Simmons and Quayshon Alexander, defensive back Marquel Dismuke, and in-stater Ben Stille, the 6-foot-4, 234-pound prospect from Ashland-Greenwood who Husker coaches are thinking of as a defensive end.
Defensive coordinator Mark Banker gave a succinct description this week of the general philosophy these Husker coaches will take in recruiting defensive players during an interview with the Journal Star. (There was a lot in that interview, and the rest will be shared this weekend.)
"We’re going to recruit from outside-in," Banker said. "We’re going to recruit corners to safeties, safeties to outside linebackers, outside linebackers to middle linebackers, middle linebackers to ends, ends to tackles, and tackles go play offense. So, that way there, you’re upgrading your athleticism and speed at every position.
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"You’re going to get players that you’re going to find that are experts in high school at their position. That’s OK, too. But, like in the secondary, if we’ve got any doubt about what the guy can play if he’s a defensive back, we’re going to put him at corner. And if he’s successful, he stays. If he fails, he goes to safety."
And what about those safeties? Keep an eye on them. The coach knows.
"What happens to them is they come to you and they’re 190, 195 pounds, and then all of a sudden on a regular diet and training table and lifting on regular basis, next thing you know the dude’s 225," Banker said. "And you’re going, 'OK, if you want us to call you a safety, we will, but go stand down there on the edge of the line of scrimmage, down lower, you know.'"
It's about always trying to be a half-step faster, a little more athletic across the board. It's a puzzle to put together, one that starts by identifying where each piece might fit even when he's 17 years old and still a year away from campus.