Nebraska landed a verbal commitment from three-star defensive lineman Jailen Weaver on Saturday evening. Here are three observations on the newest addition to the Huskers’ 2021 class.
1. Weaver is a prototypical player for the 3-4 system that Nebraska and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander use most of the time.
At 6-foot-8 and 280 pounds, Weaver has the athleticism to project as an effective pass rusher but the length to set the edge and use up space.
The Huskers have made a concerted effort to get bigger and longer, particularly on the defensive side, and it’s clear in the players NU has in its rotation up front this fall. The seven main contributors average about 6-foot-5 and 312 pounds. In recruiting, Nebraska the past two classes has added players such as Jordon Riley (6-6, 330), Ty Robinson (6-5, 315) Keem Green (6-5, 325) and Nash Hutmacher (6-5, 330).
Nebraska has its first addition to the defensive line in its 2021 recruiting class, and it’s a big one. Literally.
The only thing most are confident in is that the coronavirus pandemic will present more challenges. The Big Ten's format has little margin for error.
“The thing about length and athletic ability is when you’re playing radius increases, the chance for error decreases," Chinander said this spring. "When you’re not as long, it’s harder to make up for some things when you get cut out of a gap or you get a bad jump or something like that. But when you’re longer, you can get away with some stuff.”
Weaver is just the next in a steady infusion of rangy athletes for Nebraska’s front line.
2. Weaver is just the first in a couple of puzzle pieces up front that will help round out Nebraska’s 2021 recruiting class.
Until Saturday, the Huskers did not have a defensive lineman publicly committed to the program for the current class. Weaver, though, will not be the last.
Nebraska is in on a big group of defensive linemen that also includes four-star Tiaoalii Savea (Las Vegas), three-star Ru’Quan Buckley (Grand Rapids, Michigan), current USC verbal commit Jay Toia (Simi Valley, California), Davon Townley (Minneapolis) and Zhen Sotelo (Kapolei, Hawaii), among others.
Nebraska has about four spots left in the class after adding Weaver and graduate transfer linebacker Chris Kolarevic (Northern Iowa) in the past two days to bring its class size to 21. Up to half of those could be defensive linemen, perhaps one more defensive end and an interior player, too.
3. Tuioti now has tangible progress to show for his work on the recruiting trail.
The way the Nebraska’s last recruiting class and the first several months of 2021 shook out, Tuioti didn’t have many players that he was the primary recruiter of that ended up at Nebraska. That’s in part because Nebraska mined the junior college ranks and in part because he didn’t join the program until February 2019, by which time the groundwork for the 2020 class was already laid.
He’s always been known as an effective recruiter, though he mostly works territories a long way from Nebraska, primarily California, the West Coast and Hawaii. Now he’s got one of his guys in the boat, though, and leads on several others that could pop for the 2021 class.
That, combined with the early returns from an overall inexperienced defensive line in Week 1 against Ohio State, means Tuioti’s year is rounding into form nicely.