Perhaps you're in need of a pick-me-up. You've seen one too many recruits name their "top eight schools" like a contestant on a game show, or read about another player decommitting for a second time, or find yourself more annoyed than humored by the term "soft verbal commit."

Deep breaths. Each recruit has his own method within the madness. This space isn't here to knock those with, shall we say, more of a showman's approach. Or even those who change their minds. Coaches change their minds on the school they want to represent, too.

It is simply to remind that there are also recruiting stories out there like four-star linebacker Avery Roberts.

One of the biggest headliners in the Husker recruiting class, Roberts committed to Nebraska back on April 21. You know what has happened in his recruiting process since then? Nothing. It's been completely boring.

"When he said he was going to make a commitment, he made his commitment and never looked back," said Greg Mitchell, Roberts' coach at Concord High school in Wilmington, Delaware.

Roberts has already signed his financial-aid papers and is one of several new Huskers expected to join the program in just a few weeks when the spring semester starts in January.

While his recruiting process has had no drama the past eight months, there are plenty of things that make Roberts one of the more interesting stories in this Nebraska recruiting cycle.

For starters, he could become the first football player from Delaware to be a Husker letter-winner since at least the beginning of the modern era (dating to the 1950s).

It's a state that you can drive from top to bottom in about two hours and generally has its collection of best talent snapped up by schools in a closer proximity — such as Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Boston College and West Virginia. "We never really dealt with anyone from Nebraska before," said Mitchell, who has been coaching there for 25 years.

But the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Roberts has been a national recruit since his sophomore year. Stanford and Oregon, on the other side of the country, were among those who pursued him. He's rated the No. 168 player of all recruits in the 247Sports composite rankings.

"It's just made me hungrier," Roberts told DelawareOnline last August as the recruiting attention was starting to build. "It makes me want to prepare better, get better. I might be able to do some things easily now, but the next level isn't going to be easy."

Mitchell has had only three other players who have played on the varsity team for him all four years. Two of those made it to the NFL.

In Roberts' sophomore year, he had 112 tackles, and 19 of those were for loss. The high school coach sat down with his star. "I think you're going to have some opportunities," he said.

It was a purposeful understatement. Offers came from all over. Nebraska was one of the early ones.

Linebackers coach Trent Bray formed a connection and has never stopped recruiting him hard even after the commitment. Husker head coach Mike Riley and Bray showed what a priority he is by both visiting him in early December before the recruiting dead period. Bray even attended Roberts' football team banquet.

Honestly, Mitchell knew pretty quickly the Huskers would be tough to beat, even though Penn State is just a 3½-hour drive away. Roberts visited Lincoln for the first time the spring after his sophomore year.

"When he went out there, whatever the heck you all do on a gameday, it got him, man," Mitchell said.

A few locals would good-naturedly ask, "Why Nebraska?" The coach never saw Roberts doubt his pick. Mitchell found it all … refreshing.

A credit to a family that he describes as humble and soft-spoken.

"He's a very loyal kind of kid. … He listened to everybody, but I think in his heart of hearts whatever was said in the initial recruit visit with Nebraska really stuck with him," Mitchell said.

Roberts isn't the only one in his family who has excelled in football. His older brother, Grant, just finished his junior year on the defensive line at Delaware. His younger brother, Grahm, is a 210-pound running back in the class of 2018 who already has an offer from Nebraska.

Avery Roberts, who plays both sides of the ball, did his share of blocking to clear paths for Grahm. As you might imagine, there's some pretty good film of the two brothers owning the field.

"There are some plays where you watch Avery just run a kid over," Mitchell said. "It's neat to watch two 220-pound kids rumbling down the field."

The coach thinks it also showed something else about Avery. He had no ego in doing some of the dirty work without the ball. "He stepped aside and was very willing to help his brother out."

In a few weeks, he'll meet a new sort of challenge.

Other recruits in this Husker class expected to enroll early include quarterback Tristan Gebbia, offensive lineman Broc Bando, and wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Jaevon McQuitty.

Roberts talked with his coach about the idea of enrolling early last spring.

"He kind of embraced it. … It's not like he's ready to go and can't wait to get out of here type of deal," Mitchell said. "But I just feel based on maybe his opportunities, it might be a good idea to go early."

In 2015, another four-star linebacker showed up at Nebraska as an early enrollee. Depth was really thin at the position that year, but Dedrick Young ended up playing more as a true freshman than any other linebacker on the team that year.

When Mitchell asked Bray recently if he felt Roberts might play right away, the coach told him that if the linebacker comes in and does what he is supposed to do, there certainly is a chance.

They'll be watching in Delaware.

Mitchell said it's a state where many of the kids from different schools know each other, work out together, root for each other.

And when someone like Roberts strikes it B1G?

"I think the kids here all take some pride when one of them is successful."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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