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Steven M. Sipple: NU coaches did their homework on Aurora standout
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Steven M. Sipple: NU coaches did their homework on Aurora standout

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Class B state football final, Elkhorn South vs. Aurora (copy)

Aurora's Austin Allen (81) is brought down by Elkhorn South's Connor Childs during the Class B state championship game last year.

Things I know, and things I think I know:

Austin Allen of Aurora forever will hold the distinction of being the first in-state football player in the 2017 recruiting class to receive a scholarship offer from Nebraska.

Perhaps you've heard the Huskers' class of 2017 so far isn't too shabby. It's created a buzz nationally, as four of the seven verbal commitments are rated with four stars by

Allen, who verbally committed to NU on April 14, is a three-star tight end. Husker coaches obviously did their homework on him, identifying the 6-foot-8, 230-pound prospect nearly a year before signing day as a high priority. Iowa State, Iowa and Central Florida also offered scholarships, and UCLA was interested.

It's easy to understand why.

"It's hard to teach a kid to get open," said Kyle Peterson, Aurora High School's football coach. "You can do all the drills, but it can take years to develop. He just does it naturally. He's applied what he learned in basketball."

Allen is a legitimate 6-8 and may even look 6-11 in cleats, Peterson told our Ryly Jane Hambleton, only half-joking. A Class B all-state selection in basketball, Allen averaged 15.2 points and 7.2 rebounds. Peterson said Allen always was told he would be a college basketball player, and Allen told me he has been receiving ample attention from college basketball programs, including Nebraska-Omaha and South Dakota State.

His height obviously wouldn't be unique in college basketball. But it's certainly unique in football.

What's more, "He applies all of his skills he's learned playing pretty high-level basketball," Peterson said. "He gets open using his length. He understands how to use his frame — a very good sense of that."

Allen's football background is interesting. In youth and middle school action, he was an offensive lineman because that's what was needed, Peterson said. He began playing tight end as a sophomore. What that means to me is Allen likely has major stages of development remaining — a tremendous upside — and we're talking about a kid who made 41 catches for 507 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.

Yes, intriguing.

He could be a major mismatch for linebackers. Speaking of defense, I like that Allen himself was an excellent linebacker — good enough to be a Class B all-state selection at the position.

"You couldn't throw over him or around him," said Aurora basketball coach Tom Leininger. "Most people don't realize, teams also had a hard time running to his side. His leverage is so good and he could keep guys at bay with a stiff arm."

No wonder Iowa and UCLA, among others, were interested.

Good get for Mike Riley's crew.

* Should Nebraska basketball fans be concerned about losing Andrew White to the NBA? I'm not exactly Hubie Brown, but White is right-on when he describes himself as a "specialist." The 6-7 wing's ability to rise and shoot from deep is a gift.

He made 41.2 percent of his three-point attempts last season (87-of-211), easily the best percentage on the team even though his number of attempts was double that of any teammate. What's more, White's athleticism was apparent in his ability to consistently snare rebounds in a tough league (team-leading 5.9 per game). Plus, he's thoughtful and measured in his approach to life.

That said, his assist-to-turnover ratio (20-54) was troublesome. In my opinion, he needs a lot more work on his ball-handling before he's ready to be guarded by the likes of Andre Iguodala, or perhaps even James Harden. OK, I'll keep it at Iguodala. …

* Sometimes you don't fully grasp a player's value — i.e., White's — until you ponder Nebraska's offense without him.

* Terence "Bud" Crawford of Omaha, the WBO junior welterweight champion, has been spending some quality time in Lincoln. He played in Eric Warfield's benefit basketball game April 15 at Lincoln Southeast. The 5-8 Crawford, by the way, is an excellent basketball player. Ultra quick. Good shooter. Excellent defender. He likes to play. Does it with a permanent smile.

Saturday night, Crawford headlined a meet-and-greet at Longwell's in the Railyard. The event was put on by B&B Boxing Promotions, which plans a pro card next month in Omaha (not involving Crawford). It's striking how well Crawford handles his public appearances. He's low-key and extremely approachable.

"I'm human. I'm humble," he told me. "Just a regular guy." 

He's anything but a regular guy in the ring. He's 28-0 (20 knockouts) and his biggest bouts may be ahead of him, including a junior welterweight title unification fight against Viktor Postol (28-0, 12 KOs), tentatively set for July 23 in Las Vegas. It would be Crawford's first main event on an HBO pay-per-view card.

If you haven't watched Crawford in the ring, it's time.

* It's simple. Prince was an original. That's where you start — an original with wicked talent and endearing grace. RIP.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


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