Thomas Fidone officially became a Husker tight end at about 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.
And after he signed his national letter of intent, the top-ranked recruit in Nebraska's 2021 class grabbed his phone and caught Nebraska coach Scott Frost and offensive coordinator Matt Lubick on FaceTime.
"Can we start teaching you the signals now?" the coaches asked Fidone.
No doubt, the Nebraska coaching staff is excited to get the nation's top tight end prospect, according to 247 Sports, on campus. Fidone is just as excited to get to Lincoln.
The list of Fidone's scholarship offers was about as loaded as dad's Christmas shopping list for Lowe's. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU, Penn State, USC ...
So when Nebraska limped to a 1-4 start in an abbreviated Big Ten season, Fidone received text messages from other coaching staffs, checking to see if Fidone had second thoughts about his Husker commitment.
You sure you want to go there?
"Some would throw some shade at Nebraska, which is how recruiting goes, really," Fidone said moments after signing Wednesday. "Obviously I stayed 100% with Nebraska and I'm just ready to go there and turn things around."
Fidone, who caught 43 passes for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Lewis Central in Council Bluffs, Iowa, didn't waver. The thought of helping rebuild the Husker brand made him more pumped to get to Lincoln, and his relationships with Frost and Husker tight ends coach Sean Beckton were not like the others he had formed.
"I'm really proud of him for sticking to his commitment because I could kind of see where most kids get nervous and kind of see how it kind of swings and pivots opinions," said Fidone's father, T.J. "But he's positive and keeps on thinking that he can change that program, or at least help change that program around."
Said Thomas Fidone, "Obviously sometimes I was pretty scared, but I do see a lot of progress."
Now Fidone wants to be a part of progress.
The Fidones watched the Husker football games on television, and the 6-foot-5, 225-pound multi-sport standout talks about wanting to help get Frost's program on track.
He could have bailed after watching the Huskers lose 41-23 to Illinois or 26-20 to rival Iowa. He could have flipped to the No. 1 team in the country, a program built to contend for national championships for the foreseeable future.
"Obviously, (Alabama is) a great school, but I'd rather be part of something turning around to be great than something (already) great, so I think it will be bigger once we start turning things around and start winning games," Fidone said.
Relationships played a key part in luring Fidone and keeping him.
Nebraska coaches stayed in constant contact with him during the recruiting process, even after he committed in late August. Fidone also gravitated toward Beckton, who also locked up commitments from in-state tight ends James Carnie of Norris and AJ Rollins of Creighton Prep.
"The relationship with Beckton was a lot different than with any other coach that I had," Fidone said. "I think Beckton is the guy who won't tell you what you want to hear. He'll tell you the truth."
Fidone's commitment was firm all fall, and if there was any doubt, he made known of his thoughts on the Huskers' 2021 class on Dec. 5, the same day Florida prep standout linebacker Patrick Payton decommitted from the class, and later signed with Florida State.
"Addition by subtraction," Fidone tweeted.
"We don't want kids that are going to decommit," Fidone said last week. "We don't want that type of mindset. The guys that are there now are 100% in there now, and I promise you we're going to turn this thing around.
"We don't need him, we don't want him. They can have him."
Fidone's father sees the passion his son has for Nebraska and football.
"Honestly, the love for the game, he just had that much drive," T.J. Fidone said. "The love, passion and the bonus of him playing for the Huskers is honestly a dream come true for our family."
Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.