By now, it should be no surprise that the 2012 Nebraska recruiting class will be very small, with final number of signees hoped to be around 15 or 16. This strategy appears to be one that Husker fan clamors for year in and year out - go head to head with everyone for the biggest names out there. With only eight commitments thus far, the Huskers staff appears to be doing exactly that as some of the nation's most desired high schoolers appear to be taking things down to the wire.
So where do things stand with the current recruiting effort? In this piece, I'll attempt to 1) take a look at recent developments, 2) give a quick recap of the current verbal commitments and 3) take a look at the needs on the current roster and players with whom the coaches are currently hoping to fill those needs.
2012 RECRUITING THUS FAR - WHATS HAPPENED LATELY???
Deion Jones - An August commitment to the Huskers, Jones switched to LSU back on 12/1 in a move that probably surprised very few people once the Tigers offered. His initial commitment definitely seemed to come with the caveat that it was solid unless an LSU offer happened. Once it did, he was as good as gone & this one hurts. Jones had freakish speed and Lavonte-ish attributes that had a good chance of developing into something special.
Thomas Brown - Brown, a 6'2" 212lb linebacker prospect from Junipero Serra HS in Gardena, CA, quickly filled the spot left by Jones late last week. He was originally a soft commit to Arizona St., but decided to hightail it from the clown shoes goofiness going on over there, so what goes around comes around at linebacker. In addition to the Sun Devils, the Huskers beat out Colorado, Utah & SMU to secure his pledge.
Jordan Westerkamp - Westerkamp has fans gnashing their teeth as he is planning a trip to Notre Dame this weekend after the Irish came in with a late offer. Rumor has it that it's the parents who have a Domer-on over the prospect of their boy in a gold helmet. Nevertheless, after Westerkamp had 331 yards receiving in the Illinois state title game, Huskerniks won't rest easy until he's reiterated his love for the Huskers early next week.
CURRENT HUSKER VERBAL COMMITMENTS - WHO'S "N" FOR NOW?
(A quick look)
Tommy Armstrong - QB - Rivals *** - Rivals ranks as #8 dual threat in the country. Armstrong fills a huge gap at QB, but Nebraska may not be done with the position yet.
Sam Cotton - TE - *** - We now have every Cotton but Gin and Fitzsimmons either employed by or on scholarship at Nebraska. Even their flatulent Norwegian Elkhound, Olaf, is on the grounds crew. Nevertheless, if we have to take at least one in-state kid every year - and we do -, Cotton is a nice pick-up at a thin position.
Jordan Westerkamp - WR - **** - Had a monster senior year with 91 catches at 18.2 per and 29 TD's to go with a state title. And if he switches to Notre Dame, I will hold him in only slightly higher regard than OJ Simpson and that Spencer tool from The Hills.
Paul Thurston - OL - **** - A solid commitment from Colorado who had an all-star list of offers. Looks like a member of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family which is a solid attribute in an offensive lineman. He is #147 on the Rivals250.
Greg McMullen - DE - **** - Another pull from Ohio as Pelini appears to have established a firm pipeline in Big 10 country. Heh heh, I said "firm pipeline". Thank god Beavis & Butt Head are back. McMullen has ideal size for the poisiton and is #188 on the Rivals250
Thomas Brown - LB - *** - See above. Additional fact: Brown has never been convicted of a felony. In the SEC, this would be listed as an attribute.
Zaire Anderson - LB - **** - The four star commit from Riverside JC took a late visit to Texas Tech but remained firm in his Nebraska commitment. Once tapped out a mouthy high school classmate in the hallway with a guillotine choke for referring to him by his former name of Belgian Congo. Could be looking at immediate playing time to avert the possibility of Sean Fisher being facepalmed by any more Wisconsin RB's.
Michael Rose - LB - *** - Nebraska's first commit/decommit/recommit, he, along with Brown and Anderson, brings to nine the total number of linebackers on scholarship next year. Hmmm. I know the conference is bigger and all, but nine? OK, I guess four are graduating , but still.
Currently, the Husker class is being viewed in one of two ways. The first, and the main focus of recruitniks, is the Rivals class ranking which currently has the Husker at #43 in the country. The only problem with treating that as the definitive ranking is that the Rivals formula is heavily based on the volume of the class - as a prime example, Callahan's 1st class was ranked #1 in some circles, but contained 32 players which made them weigh in more heavily with several more multipliers.
The second measuring stick shows that the Huskers are #9 in the country when the recruits' average star rating is considered, and putting aside the feelings of those that like to hoist the national recruiting trophy, this will be the most important measuring stick of this small class. The goal is top-level national ability for every signee. They are currently in the hunt for many who fit the bill. Will they get it and, as time is running out fast, are there backup plans in place where we miss?
VISITORS ARE SCHEDULED - WHAT ARE NEEDS AND WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR TO FILL THEM?
QB - Need: a bunch but 1-2 this year - Committed: Armstrong - Wish list: Fuller, Anthony Alford (Alonzo Moore?)
Starling's turn to baseball, Green's transfer and Turner's switch to wideout left the needle slightly above E on the QB tank. Martinez & Carnes are currently the only QB's on scholly, so one more is absolutely essential. Armstrong fills the 1st slot, but Devin Fuller, the 4-star Jersey athlete is the plum. Reeling him in on top of Armstrong would solidify one of our thinnest positions.
RB - Need: 1? - Committed: None - Wish list: Christian Powell FB
This position is basically what you call loaded, barring unforeseen transfers (1). Burkhead returns with the three young guns lining up behind him hoping for meaningful carries after the throwaway games which only happened this year for Abdullah. Mike Marrow joins the fray after being made by the NCAA to sit out last year for reasons that no one can really figure out. If only he'd tattoed Mark Emmert's face on his ass, and traded an EMU jersey for the work, then everyone would have looked the other way and given Nebraska their own separate staff for recruiting.
But I digress. This apears to be a case of, if we can beat out Colorado for Powell, then great. If not, no big deal.
WR - Need 1-2 - Committed: Westerkamp - Wish List: Alonzo Moore (ATH)
This year's corps loses only Kinnie and returns Tim Marlowe, Quincy Enunwa, Khiry Cooper, Turner and Kenny Bell, all of whom saw significant playing time last year. Tyler Evans and Tariq Allen will be hard pressed to find time coming out of their redshirt years and Marlowe and little-used Steven Osborne will be seniors. Let's hope that Westerkamp is the patient type. Alonzo Moore has been told he would be looked at for WR, Qb or DB, but this appears to be the best fit for his size and skill set.
TE - Need: 1-2 - Committed: Cotton - Wish list - no one really, can Powell play TE?
On the surface, grabbing at least one tight end would seem to be a priority. Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed are both seniors to be and our only other TE besides Lester Ward is JT Kerr who has been plagued by injuries. There's a couple of offers out there but not much interest which begs the questions: are we planning on a surprise commitment/walk-on stepping up? Or are we going the route of Misery and just planning on using large wide receivers at the inside slots? Ah, I could be overracting, but at an injury-heavy position (both Cotton & Reed played hurt last year), I'd like to head into 2013 with more than Kerr and Sam Cotton.
O-LINE - Need: 3-4 - Committed: Thurston - Wish list: Andreas Peat, Joshua Garnett, Evan Boehm
This position is loaded with youth, talent and now, experience. Pelini wants to keep the suddenly-not-so-stupid-with-fans Cotton loaded year-to-year. Andrea Peat, brother of redshirt freshman Todd, would be the jewel of the class if the Huskers can close.
DT- Need: 1-2 - Committed: None - Wish list: Vincent Valentine, others?
Last year, recruiting showed a shift away from fast, oversized NBA power forwards such as Crick and Steinkuhler to blockier types built to clog the Big 10 running games with redshirt freshmen Peat, Jay Guy and Kevin Williams. Three star Illinois prospect Valentine looks like the sole pursuee for now. Steinkuhler and Thad Randle are the only upper classmen.
DE - Need 1- 2 - Commtteed: McMullen - Wish list: Avery Moss, Taiwan Johnson
Eight DE's are currently on scholly, but four are seniors, so we'll be looking to overload the position a bit. Moss is a teammate of Peat's and already has the size to compete. With only four on scholarship into 2013, seeing Nebraska take all three would not be a surprise.
LB - Need: 2-3 - Committed: Brown, Anderson, Rose - Wish List: Quanzell Lambert and four or five other guys who names I'm too lazy to type. Sorry.
I know we lose four guys after 2012, but we can't really be adding all four back this season, can we? As for next year, Compton's about the only returning starter, I feel any confidence for at all. If I had to guess, I'd say that Whaley, Santos, Anderson and (shudder) Fisher are competing for two starting jobs next year. I miss David already.
CB - Need: Two frickin' starters - Committed: None - Wish List: Mohammed Seisay, Marcus Rios, Amos Leggett, Brandon Beaver, Raymond Ford, anybody with some speed & ability who wants to play cornerback
If nothing else, this is THE posotion to watch in spring and fall camp as no one could hold down a starting spot across from Dennard and now both are open. Starting to understand why maybe Carl thought the time was right to grab that head coaching job? The linebackers and cornerbacks, with the exception of Compton, will all be learning on the job. No pressure for the new guy at all. Recruiting-wise, we'll sign anybody that shows a hint of being able to play - and since three of these guys are in Rivals100 or 250, they should fit the bill.
S - Need: 1-2 - Committed: None - Wish List: Jordan Diggs, LaDarrell McNeill, Corey Thompson
Cassidy & Thorell depart leaving Stafford, Smith and Osborne as players with the most experience. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cooper move back and possibly Baptiste given the possible coming glut at CB. Along with the D-line, this poistion should be fairly solid next year, and, unlike cornerback, Corey Raymond should have the luxury of developing his younger players slowly instead of throwing them into the fire.
While recruiting is the sort of thing I could shoot 5000 words on and still only feel like I was scratching the surface, this should give a decent overview of where Papuchis and the boys are at. They've spent the past several days all on the road as they attempt to close on some of the nation's best. There are currently two members of the Rivals250 committed, and they are in hot pursuit of at least 10 more. Will they get them all?
Of course not.
But Peat and Fuller appear to be very strong possibilities and any class with both of them would be considered a major success. Valentine and Moore would be huge as well. OK, that's enough for now. Trying to guess at the inner brain function of 18-year-olds gives me the urge to drink heavily and razz strangers. That could result in a beating I don't want to take so let's call it an afternoon.
(1) - Can we really give Green, Abdullah and Heard enough carries to keep them all happy? Especially with another year of watching Burkhead carry the load and adding arrow to the mix? If you say yes, you're more optimistic than I am.