To say Jaren Kanak waited a long time for his first high school track meet would be an understatement.
The junior from Hays, Kansas, ran track in middle school but missed his freshman campaign due to injury. Then COVID-19 wiped out his sophomore season.
So when he lined up to run the 100 meters earlier this month, it represented the first one he’s ever run as a high schooler. The three-star football prospect and Nebraska target didn’t waste any time making his mark, running in the 10.6-second range.
“That’s the first 100 I’ve run in high school, so that’s my (personal record) at the moment,” Kanak said. “I probably would have beat it last week, but it was pretty cruddy weather — rainy and wet and cold. So, we’ll see what happens this week.”
The multi-sport standout also jumped in the upper 22-foot range in the long jump and said he’s been marking near 24 feet in practice.
“It’s going good, starting to get into my legs a little bit and get into shape and I’m putting up some pretty decent times out there,” Kanak said.
That combination of speed and athleticism at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds is part of what has driven his rise into a coveted player in the 2022 football recruiting class.
He is being recruited by most teams strictly as a linebacker, but NU has consistently told him they could see him playing either side of the ball, and he hears from both coordinators — Matt Lubick on offense and Erik Chinander on defense — as well as coach Scott Frost on a regular basis.
He’ll finally get a chance to meet them and others in person, too, on June 4 during an official visit, assuming the NCAA approves a transition from its current dead period into a quiet period beginning June 1.
“I’ve never really been on a college campus like that (because of the dead period), so I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting a feel for campus and what it’s like in the town, and I want to meet these coaches in person that we’ve built relationships with over the phone the best we can,” Kanak said.
That weekend coincides with Nebraska's first of two planned Friday Night Lights camps in June.
Kanak won’t be the only one in town, either. Nebraska already has six confirmed official visitors for the weekend. The list includes his best friend and teammate, Hays linebacker Gavin Meyers.
Also expected to attend so far: pass-rusher Popeye Williams (Westfield, Indiana), a pair of coveted defensive linemen in Nico Davillier (Maumelle, Arkansas) and Jalen Marshall (Overland Park, Kansas), and defensive back James Monds III (Fort Pierce, Florida).
Williams has the Huskers in his top five and has been complimentary of the relationship he’s built with the staff. Similarly, Monds, whose uncle, Wonder, played for Nebraska in the 1970s, recently told the Journal Star that the staff has made him feel like a priority.
"I talk to Coach (Frost) and (secondary coach Travis Fisher) a lot, we have a great relationship and I really like them," Monds said. "I feel like they can push my game to the next level."
Davillier, listed at 6-4 and 275 pounds, picked up an offer from Nebraska in late January and hails from an area that the Huskers don’t always find themselves recruiting. Conversely, the Huskers would love Marshall (6-5, 270) to be the player who pops a perplexing lid on the Kansas City region over the past several cycles.
Monds also has an official visit lined up to Indiana and has offers from several Big Ten schools, along with Miami and Mississippi State. Marshall has an official visit set for Oklahoma State in mid-June and has offers from IU and Oregon, among many others. Davillier hasn’t announced any other visits so far, but Arkansas is a natural candidate in his recruitment.
Then there is Meyers, who pairs with Kanak to make a rare 1-2 punch of Power Five recruits from small-town Hays. The pair will visit Lincoln together in early June and plan to go see Washington State together later in the month.
“We have pretty unique playing styles and probably different paths that we want to go in life, but we think it would be really, really cool to play together,” Kanak said. “At the same token, we understand that we’re two different players and we’re going to do what’s best for each other and our own futures.”
That first June weekend is the first that players are expected to be allowed to visit officially, but some will be on campus before that on their own. That list includes committed linebacker Ernest Hausmann (Columbus) who said recently he plans to attend NU’s open practice on Saturday. Expect at least a few — including Kanak, Meyers and potentially NU 2022 quarterback targets MJ Morris (Atlanta) and Richard Torres (San Antonio) as well as 2023 quarterback target Reese Mooney (Denham Springs, Louisiana) — to be in town for the Red-White Spring Game on May 1.
The Huskers are also in the process of setting up official visits for later in June. On Tuesday, wide receiver/athlete Grant Page (Boulder, Colorado) tweeted that he's got an official visit set for the weekend of June 11. Page, listed at 6-foot-2, attends the same high school that former Husker wide receiver Kenny Bell graduated from. Also, defensive back Mumu Bin-Wahad (Grayson, Georgia) tweeted that he intends to take an official visit to Lincoln on June 25.
|Victor Jones Jr.||WR||Orlando, Florida (Olympia)||***|
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Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.