Nebraska found an offensive lineman it liked this spring and moved swiftly.
It paid off this summer.
The Huskers on Friday landed a verbal commitment from Valen Erickson, a Chicago offensive lineman who only first started earning widespread attention back in April.
That’s when the high school football season in Illinois finally got played after the state postponed the fall season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Erickson (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) showed well enough for St. Rita High in Chicago for the Huskers to offer in mid-April. Two weeks later, he attended the Red-White Spring Game on his own.
Over the next couple of months, Erickson steadily added scholarship offers. Even as recently as June 7 and 8, he landed offers from Louisville and in-state Illinois, respectively.
By that time, he had already taken his official visit to Lincoln.
Erickson made a return trip to Nebraska for an unofficial visit late this week and was able to see the Huskers' open camp. That was enough for him to make up his mind and decide he was ready to commit.
He picked up offers from all over the Midwest and ultimately picked the Huskers over Cincinnati and Missouri.
Erickson is the first offensive line prospect in the 2022 class for Nebraska. At the college level, the Huskers believe he could end up either at tackle or at guard.
The Huskers also hosted Ashton Craig (Lawrenceburg, Indiana) and Jake Maikkula (Littleton, Colorado) on official visits in June. Craig later verbally committed to Notre Dame and Maikkula is expected to make his decision in the coming days. He had Nebraska in his top eight, but also seemed drawn to Stanford after the Cardinal offered him a scholarship.
NU during June extended an offer to Colorado offensive lineman John Pastore, who was on campus multiple times and impressed during camps and a private workout.
Nebraska now has nine verbal commitments and room for perhaps only five or so more high school players, unless the NCAA changes its rules about who counts toward the 2022 85-man roster limit. The Huskers may take one more offensive lineman, but could also decide that one high school player is enough for the class.
Meet Nebraska football's 2021 recruiting class
DB | MARQUES BUFORD
DB | KOBY BRETZ
TE | JAMES CARNIE
RB | GABE ERVIN
TE | THOMAS FIDONE
LB | MIKAI GBAYOR
WR | KAMONTE GRIMES
QB | HEINRICH HAARBERG
WR | SHAWN HARDY II
ILB | WYNDEN HO'OHULI
LB | RANDOLPH KPAI
LB | CHRIS KOLAREVIC
OL | HENRY LUTOVSKY
LB | SETH MALCOM
WR | LATRELL NEVILLE
OL | TEDDY PROCHAZKA
TE | AJ ROLLINS
RB | MARKESE STEPP
WR | SAMORI TOURE
DE | JAILEN WEAVER
DB | MALIK WILLIAMS
OL | BRANSON YAGER
DB | TYREKE JOHNSON
DL | RU'QUAN BUCKLEY
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