Nebraska assistant coach John Garrison was named one of the nation's top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com for the 2014 cycle.

He's at it again.

"There may not be another guy on the staff who's pulling his weight as well as Garrison recruitingwise," said HuskerOnline.com recruiting expert Nate Clouse.

Garrison and Barney Cotton — who share duties coaching the Nebraska offensive line — played lead roles in the recruitment of three-star offensive lineman Mirko Jurkovic Jr., who on Monday turned down Ohio State and Florida to verbally pledge to the Huskers.

Garrison also played a lead role in landing 2015 offensive line recruit Christian Gaylord, a three-star player from Baldwin City, Kan., as well as brothers Carlos and Khalil Davis, touted defensive tackles from Blue Springs, Mo.

With Nebraska competing in the Big Ten Conference — a meat-grinder, line-of-scrimmage league — Garrison's recruiting prowess becomes particularly important.

Remember, it was Garrison who, during the 2014 recruiting cycle, identified and offered Highland, Ill., offensive guard Tanner Farmer. Farmer continued to raise his stock throughout his senior year and ended as a Rivals 100 member and NU's highest-rated prospect.

Garrison assisted Cotton in landing Las Vegas four-star offensive tackle Nick Gates and was the primary recruiter for three-star Kansas defensive lineman Peyton Newell.

What makes Garrison such a strong recruiter?

There are obvious traits a good recruiter must possess, including communication skills, strong work ethic, enthusiasm and a keen eye for talent. I know Garrison is an excellent communicator. And I'm guessing he sells Nebraska well because of his passion for the program. Anybody who watched him play for the Huskers from 1999-2002 understands his passion.

His recruitment of Jurkovic — who is from South Bend, Ind., but will play this season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. — highlights some of Garrison's abilities.

Garrison evaluated Jurkovic as a tackle during the spring in Florida after watching video of Jurkovic playing guard as a junior at South Bend St. Joseph High. In Florida, Garrison wanted to gauge Jurkovic's athleticism, and their relationship flourished.

Nebraska had been targeting two offensive tackles — the other was three-star Evan Applegate of Shawnee, Kan. — but now apparently will shift its attention to recruiting another interior offensive lineman (to go with three-star Michael Decker of Omaha North), according to Clouse.

A good guess would be three-star Jackson Perry of Bishop Gorman High, the Las Vegas powerhouse.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see John Garrison add one more guy to the line in the next few weeks," Clouse said, mentioning Perry. "He came up to Lincoln with his dad for the spring game. He's planning a return trip in the next few weeks with his mother.

"We all know if you get the mother on campus, all bets are off."

* Hunter Dale, a three-star safety from River Ridge, La., made an apparent premature verbal commitment to Nebraska last week in part because he experienced a "visit high" following a four-day stop in Lincoln, according to Johnny Curtis, an assistant coach at River Ridge John Curtis High School.

"Visit high." That's a new one. I like the term.

Dale verbally pledged to Nebraska on Thursday night. Late Saturday night, however, he reneged via Twitter. He's expected to provide clarity to his situation Wednesday. Recruiting insiders seem to anticipate that Dale will re-open the recruiting process and consider other schools, including Nebraska.

* Nebraska's football program has developed a sterling reputation as one that adheres to NCAA rules, and I don't envision seventh-year Husker head coach Bo Pelini compromising that reputation. I hope he doesn't.

However, I know there are Husker fans who wish dear ol' NU would push the envelope a bit more, if not a lot more, especially as years pass without a conference championship.

The discussion intensifies in light of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby's contention that the NCAA enforcement arm is broken, and "If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions."

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told ESPN that head coaches need to be held responsible.

"If I have a coach blatantly cheating, they know they'll be dismissed," Gundy said.

Notice he said "blatantly. …"

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.​


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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