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Three observations following Gunnar Gottula's verbal commitment to the Huskers
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Three observations following Gunnar Gottula's verbal commitment to the Huskers

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Friday Night Lights, 6.18

Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin talks to the athletes on Friday, June 18 during the Friday Night Lights camp at Memorial Stadium.

Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett break down the five players who have verbally committed to Nebraska football this month and plenty more.

Nebraska added another in-state player to its early 2023 recruiting class on Saturday with a verbal commitment from Lincoln Southeast offensive lineman Gunnar Gottula. Here are three observations following his announcement.

1. The Huskers’ in-state recruiting efforts are off to a much better start in the 2023 class than 2022.

Nebraska now has a pair of verbal pledges from in-state prospects for the bedrock of its 2023 class in Gottula and Pierce tight end Benjamin Brahmer. The pair have been a regular presence at Memorial Stadium this month for Nebraska’s camps, recruiting barbecue and visitor weekends.

Gottula has the frame and skill set colleges look for in high school linemen, and the buzz around Brahmer has only grown this month as coaches have seen him and spent time with him in person for the first time. The sentiment from just about everybody who sees Brahmer is that he’s got a chance to be special.

That duo gets NU off to a much better start within the state’s borders than in 2022, when four of the top players — Bellevue West tight ends Kaden Helms and Micah Riley-Ducker, Omaha Burke linebacker Devon Jackson and Omaha Central offensive lineman Deshawn Woods — made it clear relatively early on that they were not interested in playing for the Huskers.

NU has still added a pair of in-state players for the 2022 class in Columbus linebacker Ernest Hausmann and LSE linebacker Jake Appleget, but starting the next cycle 2-for-2 assuredly feels good for the Husker staff.

Nebraska has two other scholarship offers out in-state for 2023: Gottula’s LSE teammate Teitum Tuioti and Elkhorn South’s Maverick Noonan.

2. It’s been a good month for Lincoln Southeast.

First, Appleget earned an offer from Nebraska on June 1, then Gottula followed on June 4. Appleget verbally committed on June 20 and Gottula followed six days later.

That’s of course in addition to the continuing recruitment of Tuioti, the son of Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti, who took an unofficial visit out to Washington recently and also has offers from Cal, Washington State, Boise State and Utah State.

“With Jake, it was a little tougher with him being a 2022 kid and just what they had to go through and the evaluation process and the waiting there,” LSE coach Ryan Gottula said. “With Gunnar, being a little earlier, obviously, for him, but I’m really happy for Jake. He showed a lot of patience through that process and took advantage of his opportunities when he had them.”

Now, LSE has sent 2020 defensive back Isaac Gifford, 2021 walk-ons Maddox Burton, Taveon Thompson and Derek Branch to Nebraska in the past two recruiting classes, and has Appleget committed for 2022 and Gottula for 2023, with Tuioti’s recruitment still ongoing.

3. One recruiting oddity on the offensive line.

Now, Nebraska has an offensive lineman verbally committed for the 2023 class before landing one for the current cycle.

That won’t stay the case forever, of course, and may not even stay the case for much longer at all.

Nebraska had Jake Maikkula (Littleton, Colorado) on an official visit during the week, and has hosted Valen Erickson (Chicago) and Ashton Craig (Lawrenceburg, Indiana) on official visits and also offered a scholarship to John Pastore (Erie, Colorado) after a workout earlier this month.

NU’s numbers are strong up front considering all 14 scholarship linemen theoretically have eligibility beyond the 2021 season and eight of them will be redshirt freshmen or younger this fall.

Still, it’s certainly not a bad thing to get an early jump on the 2023 class with a player right from the program’s backyard.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Husker football reporter

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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