Nebraska Recruiting Recap: Meet the Class of 2012 (Part 1)

Welcome, recruits! This jackass reject from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel is your new mascot. And he doesn't differentiate between good and bad touches.(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)



So why talk about recruiting in June you may ask. Three reasons. First, our crap stack of a vault of usable images has none of Tara Mueller. Zilch. Find me a Tara Mueller photo and I will create a relevant article around it. No Tara pics, no Tara article. Believe me, I feel worse about this than you do. Second, it's almost July and it's going to be hotter than hell and thinking of college football might give visions of red leaves and cool October afternoons. Okay, that's bullshit. Third, it's still early enough to convince ourselves that every single kid we sign is going to be a starter and an All-American.

Through the expertise of our scouting and our unparalleled development techniques, we are training monsters with the IQ's of astrophysicists and the zen mental techniques of Tibetan monks. As a unit, they could march into Iowa City like Universal Soldiers, subjugate its male population and act out the full library of Cinemax with their women. However, as gentlemen and scholars, they would simply seduce them away.

Since summer 7-on-7 isn't live streamed on the web yet, let's go ahead meet them.

OK, a quick rundown of how this is done:

1) Name, rank and serial number. Basically, I give you the height, weight, exagerrated 40 time, Rivals & 24/7 rankings, hometown, favorite flavor of pie, dog's breed, etc.

2) A quick synopsis. Pretty self-explanatory. And I promise to try to be quick.

3) The Justin test. What is the Justin test? Fairly simple. He was credited in the recent 15 Fans You Hate To Tailgate With and his work here is just as invaluable. More is explained in the articles, but quite simply, the Justin test consists of him looking at a picture of a recruit and making the determination as to whether or not he thinks he can whip his ass in a fight. Offers to youngsters to which the answer to that would be yes are considered unsatisfactory. The accuracy of this projection method is currently undetermined due to lack of data.

4) My uninformed projection of future success/failure/in-between. The key here is uninformed. I'm basically reading articles, watching selected film from recruiting sites and trying to guess how the athletic future of a 17-year-old will play out without him having so much as attended a college practice. I do promise that neither the synopsis nor the projection will include the phrase, "I just got a text from/off the phone with (insert recruit's name here) and he tells me..."

This will never happen. My promise.

Here we go:

JARED AFALAVA

6'3" 215
Outside Linebacker
Bingham HS, South Jordan, UT
Ratings: 93 **** 24/7, *** #50 OLB, #5 in Utah Rivals
Offers:
BYU, CU, Ore, UCLA, Utah, Wash, Wyo

Notes: The key word here is potential. I know the temptation is automatically downgrade anyone not from Texas, Florida, Georgia or California, but this is Utah for crying out loud. He appears to have speed and a 6'3" frame that could handle another 20-30 pounds. He flat out explodes into kids. In Utah. So it's a great unknown. Bonus points for a sweet mullet.

Justin Test: I didn't know that WWE Superstar Eddie Guerrero (R.I.P.) had a love child in Utah. Shit I didn't even know they played tackle football in the Land of the Mormons before this guy committed. Heat-seeking missile on film, lots of big blindside hits on the QB coming off the edge. But this guy seems really small to play OLB, maybe he'll switch to safety. Pretty sure I could take Afalava. And I'll grab a handful of hair if he starts to slip away.

Projection: Even harder than usual to say. They've been grabbing a lot of linebacker talent and I put him behind Santos, Banderas and Rose. The early money says capable backup.


LEROY ALEXANDER

6'2" 190, 4.4 Forty, 265 Bench
Athlete
Whitmer HS, Toledo, OH
Ratings: 75 ** 24/7, *** #60 Athlete Rivals
Offers:
Toledo

Notes: This is one kid that many think of as a reach. He's very elusive with the ball and has a some long runs on the tape, but I'm just not buying the 4.42 speed. He gets by people, but he doesn't really apear to be pulling away. However, it sounds as if safety is ging to be where he plays initially, and there's some big holes at that position on the depth chart after next year, so he'll get a long look.

Justin Test: Thought this guy was a WR but every single clip of his film shows him playing either RB or QB and running a zone-read play. Pretty fast I guess, but doesn't look it on film. Gotta respect a guy named LeRoy. Unbelievable that we would offer this guy when his only other offer was from his home town school--Toledo. Bo is trying a little too hard to establish a connection in Ohio where he grew up. If we fought, I would take my anger over his offer out on him and it wouldn't be pretty.

Projection: After three seniors garduate this year, it's just Cooper, Harvey Jackson, Marsh and Alexander left to fill two spots. Right now, I'd put him a solid third after the first two. Unless we recruit a some this year or next who's ready to start in 2013, he's an injury away from a blackshirt.


ZAIRE ANDERSON

6'1" 220, 4.6
Outside Linebacker
Riverside CC, CA
Ratings: 87 *** 24/7, **** #13 JC Rivals
Offers:
Akr, Kent, MissSt, TCU, TexTch

Notes: JUCO transfer who has three years to play two. He is the only junior or sophomore on the depth chart, so a redshirt may be a consideration. Film is impressive he makes quick decisions, slices to the ball and lays big hits on people. People are hoping for Levonte 2.0, and, while that is probably asking a little too much, the potential to be something special is there.

Justin test: Not sure about everyone else, but I have a personal rule never to fight anyone named after a country in Africa (I'll make an exception for punks named Chad). I'm positive this guy would beat my ass. He is a JUCO guy expected to step right in and replace Lavonte David. I sure as hell hope he is half the player David was.

Projection: Granted, I'm going off junior college film, but I think he starts before this season is over. Can Whaley finally step in and consistently hold down a starting job? Also, I won't be sold that Fisher is back at full speed or has grown the strength to be effective at the position until it actually happens - I still see him getting punched to the turf in the end zone by Montee Ball. I really hope it does, I'm a huge fan and he deserves one big injury-free season. However, I don't think both things will happen - that opens the door for Anderson.


TOMMY ARMSTRONG

6'2" 210, 4.5, 250
Quarterback
Steele HS, Cibolo, TX
Ratings: 86 *** 24/7, *** #9 Dual-thr QB #49 in Texas Rivals
Offers:
GaTech, KU, MissSt, Misery, Ore, SoMiss, TCU, TexSt, UTSA, UCLA

Notes: Is he the future starter or a good looking insurance policy? Outside of Oregon, the offer sheet isn't eye-popping. Also, the 59% completion rate is so-so. OK, that's my negatives. On the positive side, the kid flat out wins. There's something to be said for that. And while the completion rate isn't the greatest a 29/2 TD/Int ratio is. Also, I say we live in a space-time continuum where his 4.5 forty is 1/10 of second faster than Alexander's 4.42.

Justin Test: Saw a picture online from the Texas High School Title game and I immediately thought of Steamin' Willie Beaman flipping into the end zone in Any Given Sunday. I think I read that he has taken his team to the State Championship the last 2 years in Texas' toughest division 5A, so that says a lot about his skill and toughness. Heard lots of good things about him, I wouldn't mess with this guy.

Projection: He'll redshirt and then start after waiting his place in line after Carnes, barring injuries. That should give hime two years running the show. I don't see a lot of post-season accolades, just him leading us to a couple of 10+ win seasons and possibly a BCS bowl. There will be no grumblings about his leadership.


THOMAS BROWN

6'2" 212
Inside Linebacker
Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA
Ratings: 88 *** 24/7, *** #31 ILB #73 California Rivals
Offers:
ASU, CU, SJSU, SMU, Utah

Notes: Is getting some pub for his physique - which always makes me think ofDonald Sutherland in The Dirty Dozen when he asked Colonel Breed, "They're very pretty. Can they fight?" He lined up on both sides of the ball for Junipero Serra HS and his offensive skillset appeared to be taking a direct snap and running up the middle for a touchdown on every play. I love highlight reels. He showed good closing speed and several big side-angle, decleating types of hits. And if he falls back to pick one off, he can run with it.

Justin Test: Seems like the unsung hero of this class, I literally forgot that he committed and don't recall any kind of hype when he did commit. Haven't seen any film on him and don't know anything about him, but I probably wouldn't fare well in a scrap with a MLB from California who's cut like Wesley Snipes but 50 lbs. heavier and 8 inches taller.

Projection: He appears to have all of the physical skills. Can he crack the lineup at a talent-heavy position? I say by his junior year, yes.


SAM COTTON

6'4" 240, 4.83, 260
Tight End
Lincoln, NE Southeast HS
Ratings: 81 *** 24/7, *** #3 Nebraska Rivals
Offers:
Ohio, Tulsa

Notes: The last of the Cottons to receive a scholarship until Sam and his brothers start knocking out calves. As Justin mentions below, I had a bit of a problem that he pulled a disappearing act in the title game. After next year, someone has to stand in at TE (unless we just eliminate the position..and given Martinez' inability to find them consistently so far, maybe that's a plan? OK, I kid.) The good news - he does show a knack for getting open and is sneaky fast for a 240 pounder. No idea if he can block.

Justin Test: Very mixed feelings on the latest Cotton recruit to receive a questionable scholly offer. 75% of Husker fans think it was ridiculous that Sam and Jake Cotton were given a free ride, arguing that if they weren't Barney's kids than they wouldn't have any business playing here. But I don't know--I think Ben has proven to be pretty reliable at TE, Jake seemed to be coming along well on Oline before blowing out his ACL, so maybe the youngest Cotton will produce. But I watched him play in the State Title game, and he didn't stand out one bit, and that's frightening considering the lack of talent in Nebraska. I would not think twice to put hands on this kid and I know I could take Cotton as long as his older brothers didn't jump in.

Projection: He may redshirt and start the next year by default. That's probably not a good thing.


IMANI CROSS

6'1" 220
Running Back
North Hall HS, Gainesville, GA
Ratings: 87 *** 24/7, *** #25 RB Rivals
Offers:
ECU, GaTech, Kent, Mary, SoCar, Tenn, UCF, Vandy, UVA

Notes: It ain't pretty, but it sure looks effective. He's big, he's strong and he's built to play right away. Absorbs hits and keeps his feet moving. Probably more like Burkhead than anyone else on the roster, except will be bigger and stronger without being as shifty, as opposed to Abdullah (small and quick) and Marrow (strictly a big bruiser). Think Dontray Robinson with more upside.

Justin Test: This kid already looks like a grown ass man. We definitely need a big back for short yardage situations. With Cross being a RB, I would not be able to outrun him. But I would take my beating like a man.

Projection: They would probably like to learn from the mistakes of trying to give too many kids carries last year & let Imani redshirt while Burkhead, Abdullah and Marrow shoulder the load. He probably won't be feature back material, but he'll see the rock plenty with the occasional black and blue 100 yard effort.


AARON CURRY

6'3" 298, 4.9, 305
Defensive Tackle
Fossil Ridge HS, Keller, TX
Ratings: 86 *** 24/7, *** #43 DT Rivals
Offers:
Ariz, Bay, BSU, BC, Ind, Iowa, ISU, KU, KSU, Minn, Miss, Misery, NewMex, NoTex, Purd, Syr, TCU, aTm

Notes: Late commit from Texas where a lot of high school football has become....well, soft is probably a strong word, but spread offenses and year round 7-on-7 certainly have taken some of the smash-mouth out the equation. Curry looks like a throwback. He's got some quick feet from running down little hillbilly Booger Daniel clones, but at 6'3" 300 is more the compact DT that is needed to shore up the middle against Big 10 offenses.

Justin Test: I don't know a lot about Curry, haven't seen any film. But I know you have to be damn strong to play DT and suck up double teams in our two-gap defense. And on this guy's bio he weighs 300 lbs and benches 305. That is not going to cut it, hell I weighed 205 in high school and benched 245. Curry doesn't scare me, definitely needs to Redshirt. (Ed note: Dude, all he has to do is fall on you. It'll impact like Superfly Snuka hitting one off the top rope.)

Projection: Probably not an All-American or anything but should find himself rotating on the field plenty by his junior season.


GREG MCMULLEN

6'5" 255
Defensive End
Hoban HS, Akron, OH
Ratings: 95 **** 24/7, **** #192 Rivals250 #12 DE #11 Ohio Rivals
Offers:
Cincy, MSU, NCSU, NW, ND, OhioSt, Purd

Notes: This is one big, strong dude. Teams running inside near him were punished. I was reminded of Koba picking up Brendan Conlan and repeatedly slamming him back-first in the Octagon. I mean, he didn't do that to anyone, but you got the feeling he could in high school. But I have one concern, and it may be a sacrilege since he's arguably the cherry of this class, but the word I like popping in my head when I see high school DE's rush the passer is "explosive". The one that pops in my head when McMullen does it is "lumbering". He reminds of Adam Carriker in that regard - the times he would bullrush a QB like Mongo, only to stomp 5 yards by them as they neatly sidestepped him again & again. I hope I'm wrong.

Justin Test: McMullen looks like a pretty bad dude and I'm glad we locked him up early. Looks like he has a lot of room to fill out and get bigger. Been a long time since we had a threat coming off the edge and getting to the QB, probably moreso a product of Bo's defense, but I hope this guy can rack up some sacks. McMullen is a tough guy, I wouldn't pick a fight with him.

Projection: I'm going to assume that it was just the film or his height that was the problem. I don't think NU, the Domers and the Buckeyes all offer a DE who's doesn't get it done on the rush. McMullen kicks ass & takes name and is all B1G by his junior season.

PART TWO TO COME......ON THURSDAY!

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