Darien Chase did a little bit of everything for Union High this fall in Vancouver, Washington.
Actually, he did a lot of it.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is verbally committed to Nebraska to play wide receiver, and he’s considered among the best prospects in the Pacific Northwest by recruiting services like 247Sports and Rivals.
He was named co-player of the year in the state of Washington by the Seattle Times, sharing the award with his own quarterback, Lincoln Victor. Interestingly, though, he wasn’t even a first-team wide receiver according to the Tacoma News-Tribune. That’s because that paper listed him as a first-team defensive player and his league’s defensive player of the year.
Chase also returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns for his team.
The understated four-star recruit, though, is much more comfortable talking about his team’s 14-0 season, its state title or his quarterback, Lincoln Victor, than he is about his own exploits.
“(He’s) different than what you think of when you think of four-star wide receivers, you know,” head coach Rory Rosenbach said. “He’s not a diva in the respect of, ‘Look at me, look at me, attention, attention.’”
Just the opposite, in fact.
“I don’t think I would have won (the Seattle Times award) if it wasn’t with (Victor),” Chase told the Journal Star on Sunday. “He deserved it. He worked really hard and he was the heart of our team, honestly. I think he deserved everything, but it was cool to do it with him.”
Realistically, Chase played as big a role in Union High’s success as anybody. He finished the season with 1,368 all-purpose yards in 14 games and scored 16 touchdowns, totals which included 65 catches for 1,004 yards. He also picked off a pair of passes, knocked down 10 and logged 39 tackles.
Next up, he’ll sign with the Huskers on Wednesday. Chase is a summer enrollee, so he’ll arrive on campus in late May or early June.
“They told me if I work hard and the situation is right then I can absolutely come in and compete,” he said. “I’m going to be working really hard here at home until I get there. In my mind, my goal is to come in and play as a freshman.”
Chase took the same business-like approach to his recruitment. He first received an offer from Nebraska on Oct. 5 and started hearing daily from offensive coordinator Troy Walters. He quickly set up an official visit and was on campus when the Huskers finally broke through in the win column with a rout of Minnesota at Memorial Stadium.
“The game atmosphere was crazy,” he said. "The best game I’ve ever been to. Usually after a visit l try to give it a couple days to think about it and really see how it went, and that was the best I’d ever felt after a visit.”
Just days later, he announced his verbal commitment. But it wasn’t just the atmosphere that sold him.
Rosenbach has family connections in Nebraska. His dad grew up on a farm near Norfolk. Not only that, but Rosenbach is a University of Oregon graduate and followed the Chip Kelly era there closely. Not surprisingly, his offensive system in Vancouver mirrors a lot of the same elements that Scott Frost has brought to Lincoln.
“It’s really, really similar to my offense,” Chase said. “It’s spread, they signal it in, they have the same exact receiver spots. Their quarterback runs and he’s athletic, same as mine. So, I mean, when I was watching it, it was like watching one of my own games.”
Chase is set to join Jamie Nance (Blanchard, Oklahoma) as receivers in NU’s 2019 class along with a possible addition between the early signing date and February. Walters came out to visit him three times during the most recent contact period, which only reinforced what he already knew: He can’t wait to get to Lincoln.
“That’s the most a coach has ever come out to see me,” Chase said. “We usually don’t talk about football, but this last time (on Friday) we did. We talked more about the scheme and stuff, but he told me that this year they definitely improved. The first couple games they weren’t really together, but as the season went on they got it together, and started to winning games.
“He just said that’s the start of the program and once our class gets there, hopefully that’ll build something and we’ll be able to compete for a lot of things in the future.”