Nebraska hasn’t quite yet put the 2021 recruiting class to bed entirely.
It hits the end of the calendar year with 20 out of 25 spots filled and several key high school targets still on the board.
However, as the Huskers focus on a very narrow set of players to try to cap the current recruiting cycle, they have also already ramped up efforts for 2022 and beyond.
Nebraska in 2021 ended up with nine players from either Nebraska or a bordering state and has at least one it’s still pursuing. It ended up being a more localized class in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, for sure, but also because the staff clearly liked the talent in the area. Of that group, at least three — defensive back Koby Bretz, quarterback Heinrich Haarberg and tight end James Carnie — earned offers later in the cycle, though they were each on the radar going back to the beginning of the year or earlier.
The 2022 class members have also been heavily affected by the pandemic. They were not able to take unofficial visits from March on and will not be able to take officials through at least April 15. In total, they will actually face a longer disruption to their recruitment than the 2021 class did, with the NCAA’s shutdown now guaranteed to last at least 13 months.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a pretty deep set of regional recruits in the upcoming class, grouped by state. This isn’t an exhaustive look, by any means, but it’s something of a starting point.
Tight ends Kaden Helms and Micah Riley (Bellevue West), outside linebackers Devon Jackson (Omaha Burke) and Ernest Hausmann (Columbus), offensive lineman Deshawn Woods (Omaha Central) and athlete Jake Appleget (Lincoln Southeast).
The Huskers would be more than happy to compile another big class of in-state players for 2022. Helms and Riley, of course, are two of the most sought-after tight ends in the country and both continue to accumulate offers quickly. Jackson and Woods did not play this past fall due to Omaha Public Schools’ shutdown of fall sports, but their recruitments are already national, too. Hausmann (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) is a big, twitchy athlete and is the most recent in-state player to pick up an NU offer for 2022. Keep an eye on Appleget within the city here. He’s long, athletic and can do a lot of different things at 6-4. He was a first-team Super State selection on defense by the Journal Star and could see his recruitment take off in the coming months. If 2021 is any indication, others may follow, too.
Safety Xavier Nwankpa (Des Moines), linebackers Jacob Imming (Sergeant Bluff) and Will McLaughlin (Harlan), offensive lineman Spruceton Buddenhagen (Osceola), athlete Jahsiah Galvan (West Liberty), tight end Eli Raridon (West Des Moines) and defensive tackle Hunter Deyo (Council Bluffs).
NU pulled three players out of Iowa in the 2021 class and would love to put together a repeat performance in 2022. Nwankpa is already one of the most sought-after players in the country and has a shot at being a five-star recruit. Imming and McLaughlin both have nice, regional Power Five recruitments brewing already and Buddenhagen (6-7, 275) is a huge kid with a great name and a strong early recruitment. NU became the first to offer Galvan just this week. Raridon impressed at the Warren Academy showcase in July in Omaha. Deyo (6-3, 270) is one to watch. He’s a four-star player and former teammate of Husker signee Thomas Fidone, but the Huskers haven’t offered to date.
Outside linebacker Caden Crawford (Lansing), inside linebacker Gavin Meyers (Hays), wide receiver Mekhi Miller (Overland Park) and defensive lineman Jalen Marshall (Overland Park).
This will be an interesting group to watch. Crawford is 6-5 and 230-plus and has the look of the kind of outside linebacker Nebraska covets. Meyers is a multi-sport standout that is high on NU. Miller and Marshall are Kansas City-area prospects with good length. All four have been on Nebraska’s radar for a long time, but the competition will be strong for each.
Outside linebacker Chase Carter (Minneapolis) and offensive lineman Lucas Heyer (St. Paul).
Nebraska’s landed key recruits out of Minnesota (offensive lineman Bryce Benhart) and lost them, too (outside linebacker Kaden Johnson), and could be involved with a couple of players from the state in 2022. Carter is another long pass-rush candidate at 6-6 and 220 pounds, while Heyer (6-5, 305) is considered an early four-star prospect by Rivals. Four of the five offensive lineman NU has signed the past two classes have come from the region. There are more good candidates in this class.
WR Quinton Conley (Kansas City).
There more players than Miller, Marshall and Conley that the Huskers have offered in the Kansas City area, but this is a good start. Conley, in particular, has been on the Huskers’ radar screen for a long time and has been to campus previously, including for NU’s summer recruiting barbecue in June 2019. The Huskers have added height and length to the group in recent classes, but Conley at 6-5 would still be a welcome addition. NU has also offered several players in the St. Louis area, but has not had much success gaining traction there recently.
Defensive lineman Chris McClellan (Tulsa) and running back Dontierre Fisher (Checotah).
Stretching to the edge of the 500-mile radius here, but NU landed players from Oklahoma in 2019 (Jamie Nance, Demariyon Houston) and 2020 (Sevion Morrison). McClellan earned an offer from Nebraska back in the spring, and his recruitment has become a wide-ranging one. Fisher is one of the newer additions to the list; he just picked up an offer from running backs coach Ryan Held and the Huskers earlier this month.
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