Six football seasons have come and gone since Bo Pelini coached football in the state of Louisiana.

That means this year's high school seniors were about 12 years old during Pelini’s last year as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

Still, there’s a man in New Orleans who will tell you the Husker head coach’s success then still carries recruiting value today.

“People don’t realize how much his name means in the state of Louisiana,” said Nathaniel Jones. “In the short time he was here, he won a national championship. So the kids here know about him and the legacy he left here in the state of Louisiana. Having that inside track that way really leads to our kids going there to Nebraska.”

Jones is a good source on the subject. He’s the head coach at Edna Karr High School, a powerful program in New Orleans that has three recruits in this Husker class, with wide receiver Glenn Irons announcing his commitment via Twitter on Saturday night.

"I'm taking my talents to Lincoln, Nebraska," Irons tweeted while on his recruiting visit.

His high school teammates -- linebacker Jaevon Walton and 6-foot-3 receiver Jariah Tolbert -- committed to NU previously.

Tolbert, who committed to Nebraska sight unseen, was with Irons in Lincoln this weekend. With the new commitment, the Huskers now have 21 pledges in the class.

What is it about the school in New Orleans that makes it such a hot target for Nebraska coaches?

And what, besides Pelini’s stint at LSU, has drawn Karr athletes to a school in the middle of America?

Jones has some ideas.

“It’s a lot like Nebraska here in the way that your legacy and the things you do here matter,” he said. “Our guys want to leave a legacy here before they go off to a place like Nebraska. It’s just as important to them because we preach those things every day. These are the things we’re all about: Pride, tradition, legacy. The things programs are built on.”

This season, Karr was 13-3 and the state runner-up in Class 4A, the second-highest classification in Louisiana. Jones expects the school to produce 10-plus FBS scholarship players this year.

“Our kids understand how hard you have to work to achieve championships,” Jones said. “And when it comes to Nebraska, they’re recruiting kids to win championships, not to just go there. They want to win championships. And that’s appealing to our guys to go to Nebraska."

Pelini’s straight-sell approach to recruiting also seems to hit the right note with Jones’ players.

“Our guys, we’re real down-to-earth, hard-working people,” the coach said. “And he (Pelini) seems like he’d be that type of guy who wants to get the best out of you. I think that goes a long way. You can try to sell me a Buick at the price of a Rolls-Royce, but he’s not that used-car salesman. He tells them, ‘This is what it is. This is why Nebraska’s the right place.’”

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It didn’t hurt that Nebraska was active in Louisiana last year, picking up tight end Cethan Carter. Carter and Walton played football together growing up.

Walton, a 6-foot, 235-pound linebacker, has already changed his Twitter handle to “BlackShirtGang,” with a drawing of the Huskers coming out of the tunnel as his avatar.

He tells people he wants to make “BlackShirtGang” T-shirts. It’s clear he already understands his audience.

His family is no stranger to football success. His dad, John Copeland, was a standout defensive end for Alabama, part of the 1992 national championship team, then a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Walton moved around during high school, going back to Alabama to be with his dad his junior year, then coming back to Karr his senior year.

“When he came back, I don’t think people remembered him as a sophomore, even though he started here then,” Jones said. “But he came out and did exactly what he should do.”

And what can he do?

“He can make plays from sideline to sideline,” the coach said. “He’ll hit you in the mouth. He can play smashmouth football or he’ll play the speed game. Maybe I’m biased, but I thought he was the best defensive football player in the state of Louisiana this year.”

Tolbert, who could eventually provide a big-body option as Nebraska moves on to life without Quincy Enunwa, didn’t come into the Karr program until late in 2012.

“This year he learned the system,” Jones said. “And once he knew it, he just burst onto the scene.”

Tolbert ended his senior season with 11 touchdowns, emerging as the go-to guy in the state playoffs.

He's a different body type than Nebraska's newest recruit, the 5-10, 170-pound Irons. But both have the same mindset.

"They are really, really competitive guys," Jones said. "I think with Glenn and Jariah, they're guys that work well together, they work off each other, teaching one another different techniques and why they do things. They've helped each other a lot getting better this year. Even though they're competitive, it's a friendly competition."

Jones hopes to visit Lincoln and see the two receivers line up together, making plays at the next level just like they did for him.

And, who knows? If that “BlackShirtGang” slogan takes off, Walton might even have a new T-shirt for his old coach.

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


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