It was not for Nebraska's lack of effort, the coach will tell you.

But defensive end Blake McClain did what some Husker fans feared would happen when they put their heads to pillow last night, choosing South Carolina on signing day.

A concern from McClain's parents about distance, it seems, was the main factor in why the recruit from Jacksonville, Fla., picked the Gamecocks just four days after committing to the Huskers on a visit to Lincoln.

"I can tell you Bake was 100 percent in," said McClain's high school coach Adam Geis. "It wasn't even a 95-5 thing after his visit (to Nebraska). He just loved it up there, loved the people, loved the coaches, loved everything about it. It was not with him, as much as it was his parents. He loved it there 100 percent. But there's just no way you can make Nebraska and Florida closer on the map."

The driving distance from Jacksonville to Columbia, S.C., on the other hand, is just four hours, making it easier for the family to travel to see his games and visit him.

McClain's decision cast a bit of a cloud on what was otherwise the signing day the Huskers expected it would be, claiming the rest of the 24 signatures that were anticipated.

The Huskers had seemed to score a major final week recruiting victory when McClain pledged to them just a week after decommitting from Florida State, which had approached him with a grayshirt offer 10 months after he had first committed to the Seminoles.

But South Carolina did not consider the matter closed and continued to make a heavy push for McClain even after he committed to the Huskers. Geis said Nebraska didn't let its foot off the pedal either.

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"They did a great job, man. I'm serious," Geis said of Husker recruiting efforts. "We have tons of kids come out of here and it was one of the better recruiting jobs they did, from Chris (Jones) to DeSean (Blair) to Blake."

Geis singled out Husker wide receivers coach Rich Fisher, in particular, saying he did "A+ work."

"It was one of best recruiting jobs I've seen in the last 11 years in this area... The only thing he couldn't do is make Florida closer to Nebraska."

Nebraska did get one recruit out of Geis' Sandalwood High School program, with the cornerback Jones signing on the dotted line for the Huskers. Blair, a wide receiver visited Lincoln in January, ended up picking Missouri as many expected he would heading into the day.

Geis called Jones "one of the best athletes in north Florida," saying Nebraska got a cornerback who nine times out of 10 would have ended up at Florida State or Florida.

FSU had an abundance of corners in its class, Geis said, and after Jones committed to South Florida, he more or less shut his recruitment down for a while, perhaps taking away some attention he would have otherwise received.

In making a late push to get him, Nebraska landed the player Geis considered perhaps the most valuable on his team last year.

"I'm telling you, Chris, I'd rate him my No. 1 player, with Blake a close second," Geis said.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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