Zavier Betts and Michael Huffman have insisted all fall that Betts, a talented wide receiver at Bellevue West, was making progress in the classroom.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost got the latest report Thursday and decided the Huskers had seen enough to lock Betts into a National Letter of Intent.
So, instead of having to wait until February or later to sign officially with NU, four-star recruit Betts turned in his NLI on Thursday afternoon and will have a signing ceremony on Friday morning at Bellevue West.
"It really kind of came out of nowhere," Huffman, Bellevue West's head coach, told the Journal Star on Thursday, a couple of hours before Betts' status with Nebraska became official.
The plan through December had been for Betts to keep making academic progress — he's had a good year in the classroom — but sign later. Then Frost called the school Thursday to talk through the 6-foot-3, 205-pound receiver's latest grades.
Betts found Huffman in his office on Thursday and said, "Coach Frost called. He wants me to sign now," Huffman relayed.
"I can't even imagine," Huffman said. "Because inside, he knows he's one of the best players in the country, but inside you hurt a little bit. He gets it because we coached him the whole way. That's what we do here. We back him up on everything, but that had to be so hard."
Now, though, Betts will join an early signing class that was already coming together nicely for NU and now will have even fewer question marks going forward.
Betts is the 23rd official member of Nebraska's 2020 class. His signature will leave just two openings remaining in the class for Nebraska to use either in the February signing period or on the transfer market over the summer.
Betts adds another prolific receiver to a Nebraska 2020 haul that already includes four-star junior college standout Omar Manning, four-star high schoolers Marcus Fleming (Miami) and Alante Brown (Chicago) and versatile three-star Will Nixon (Waco, Texas).
On a Bellevue West team that went 13-0 and won the Class A state title last month, Betts hauled in 64 passes for 1,185 yards (18.5 per catch) and 17 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
He racked up 856 or more yards in each of his final three high school seasons and finished his career under Huffman with 3,330 receiving yards (17.6 per catch) and 46 receiving touchdowns.
He is ranked the No. 52 player overall and the No. 8 receiver in the country by Rivals and is pegged No. 107 overall and the No. 21 receiver by 247Sports.
A physically imposing receiver, Betts pairs with Manning in the 2020 class to give Nebraska two incoming prototypical outside receivers, an area that suffered a severe lack of production in 2019 after the graduation of Stanley Morgan Jr.
"I feel great about who we got, especially getting Zavier (Betts) in the boat here at the end," Frost said on the Husker Sports Nightly radio program Thursday night. "There's some real talent in that group and we're optimistic about them."
Betts and Manning both have some work to do in the classroom before getting to Lincoln, though.
In Betts' case, he's doubled down on his efforts to make up for lost time during this school year. Huffman said that Betts' grades were better even than he thought they would be when Frost checked in on Thursday.
Earlier this fall, he gave an outline to Betts' path toward qualification.
"The path isn’t that hard. Now, for some people it would be easy. For him, there’s going to be some chore there. But the mountain isn’t so steep. It can happen,” Huffman told the Journal Star earlier this fall. “It’s not even going to take a miracle, it can happen. Our counselors have done a fantastic job. He has a teacher that he works with very well that works her absolute butt off. We’ve got a great system in place here."
Nebraska is confident that it will. And Betts is a key piece to what Frost hopes is a more dangerous group of receivers that's been rebuilt over the past two years but clearly wasn't completed in 2019.
"When you look at that position, just being honest, when we came in as a coaching staff we only had about four receivers on scholarship," Frost said Wednesday. "We usually carry 10 or 11. That was a position just by numbers that we had to rebuild.
"We feel good about this class and where it’s going to take us."
Now Zavier Betts is officially part of that class.
|Zavier Betts||WR||6-2||190||Omaha (Bellevue West)||****|
|Marquis Black||DL||6-4||280||McDonough, Ga. (Eagle's Landing)||***|
|Alante Brown||WR||6-0||190||Chicago (Simeon)||****|
|Jimari Butler||OLB||6-5||215||Mobile, Ala. (Murphy)||***|
|Alex Conn||OT||6-6||280||Derby, Kansas||***|
|Niko Cooper||OLB||6-5||220||Memphis, Tenn. (Hutchinson C.C.)||***|
|Turner Corcoran||OT||6-6||280||Lawrence, Kan. (Free State)||****|
|Ronald Delancy III||DB||5-11||190||Miami (Northwestern)||***|
|Marcus Fleming||WR||5-10||160||Miami, Fla. (Northwestern)||****|
|Jaiden Francois||CB||6-0||185||Homestead, Fla.||****|
|Henry Gray||DB||6-0||175||Miami (Central)||****|
|Keyshawn Greene||LB||6-3||205||Crawfordville, Fla. (Wakulla)||****|
|Blaise Gunnerson||OLB||6-5||250||Carroll, Iowa (Kuemper)||****|
|Nash Hutmacher||DT||6-5||305||Chamberlain, South Dakota||***|
|Tamon Lynum||DB||6-2||170||Orlando, Fla. (Evans)||***|
|Omar Manning||WR||6-4||225||Lancaster, Texas (Kilgore College)||****|
|Eteva Mauga-Clements||ILB||6-2||210||Pleasant Hill, Calif. (Diablo Vall. College)||***|
|Sevion Morrison||RB||6-0||200||Tulsa, Oklahoma (Edison)||****|
|William Nixon||WR||5-11||185||Waco, Texas (Midway)||***|
|Pheldarius Payne||DE||6-3||270||Suffolk, Va. (Lackawanna CC)||***|
|Jordon Riley||DE||6-5||300||Durhan, N.C. (Garden City C.C.)||***|
|Marvin Scott III||RB||5-9||205||Port Orange, Fla. (Spruce Creek)||***|
|Logan Smothers||QB||6-2||180||Muscle Shoals, Ala.||****|
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.
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