When Scott Frost and his staff first took over at Nebraska more than one year ago, the group immediately set out trying to put together a 2018 recruiting class in just about a two-month time frame.
In the first weeks, only a few 2019 recruits received offers. Those guys included some, like Rahmir Johnson, who wound up committed to the Huskers, and others who have since committed to other schools.
One of the earliest targets for this class: defensive end Ty Robinson.
The Huskers offered him in January and he made the first of several unofficial visits to Lincoln weeks later.
Since then, he’s been a top-of-the-list, priority-type recruit for Frost, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, defensive line coach Mike Dawson and the whole staff.
Robinson, at long last, will make his decision public at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, the first day that 2019 recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent. The Huskers are considered by many as the favorite, but a trio of heavy hitters in Alabama, Oregon and USC round out his group of finalists.
“I think from the moment that Coach Frost arrived in Lincoln, the Huskers have made him feel like a priority,” said 247Sports analyst Blair Angulo, who covers Arizona and other parts of the West for the recruiting service. “That’s been a big thing. Relationships are a huge deal for (Robinson), and then all the looks that he’s gotten at the program up close. … Those things combined have made Nebraska the team to beat here for the last month or so.
“Some guys want playing time. Some guys want the craziest fan base. For Robinson, it’s all about relationships.”
Robinson is ranked by 247Sports as No. 180 overall player in the country for 2019, while Rivals has him ranked No. 146.
While the Huskers have been in the picture the whole way, the competition got stiff over the summer. Instead of wrapping up his recruitment early, Robinson decided to take his time.
As he put together a dominating senior campaign for Higley High, Robinson visited USC officially in October, then Oregon, then the Huskers for Senior Day against Michigan State and Alabama for the Iron Bowl in back-to-back weeks.
“It’s all well-deserved and it’s all well worth it,” Higley coach Eddy Zubey said. “He’s one of those types of kids that could go to the Alabamas, the Nebraskas, and go in there and play at an early age. …
“Super-athletic, he’s powerful, he’s quick. He’s just a beast. He commands a double-team. It’s super-obvious on film. We move Ty around and the quarterback will point Ty out and move the running back to the other side. They run away from him. They don’t run at him.”
Angulo’s seen Robinson in game action and at recruiting showcases, and holds a similarly strong opinion.
“When I first saw him, it was on tape and we listed him as an athlete because he was playing tight end, playing an edge-rusher role,” Angulo said. “He grew so much and gained so much mass. I think he put on about 30 pounds this year alone and he’s maintained that flexibility. When you see him in person, this guy is moving at a different pace than other guys his size and you don’t really see other guys his size at his level, especially in Arizona. He’s been dealing with double-teams and triple-teams at the high school level, so sometimes you can’t take much away from that because he’s not going to just be able to do whatever he wants.
"But when he gets out into some of these different showcases and events, that’s when it really starts to flash and you notice how special of an athlete he is.”
Robinson has family connections in Nebraska — his mom is originally from O’Neill and his late father played basketball at Chadron State — that helped put the Huskers in the conversation early on.
Connections elsewhere have come and gone. USC, for instance, was considered to be a real possibility before defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze was fired after the season. Head coach Clay Helton and the Trojans have kept recruiting Robinson hard, but Zubey said it would be understandable if the change had at least some effect on Robinson’s thinking.
In the final days of the contact period, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban came through Higley to see Robinson. So did several USC coaches and several from the Ducks’ staff. Then Frost showed up with all 10 of his assistants on Thursday, a show of force before signing day.
At 12:45 p.m., Robinson will tell everyone where he’s headed next. Lincoln, of course, would make Husker coaches and fans very happy.
Other announcement times
Three other Husker targets are making college decisions on Wednesday. Here’s the rundown:
10 a.m.: Four-star outside linebacker Lloyd Summerall (Lakeland, Florida) will choose between NU, Miami and Florida on ESPN2 somewhere between 10 and 11 a.m.
10:30 a.m.: Three-star defensive lineman Brant Banks (Houston) will choose between the Huskers and Baylor at his school, Westbury Christian.
11 a.m.: Three-star offensive lineman Jimmy Fritzsche (Greenville, South Carolina) will announce his choice between Nebraska and Clemson at Greenville High.