Big Red Weekend: Nebraska Gets Back On Track.... For Now

Eric Francis

The Nebraska coaching staff got five commitments over the course of BRW and turned potential disaster into a maximized weekend. But, the question now becomes can they keep the momentum going into the season?

On Friday, I gave my thought on Big Red Weekend and I said this about the guys that were coming into the weekend:

You've heard of it, but it's happening today and tomorrow in Lincoln. There are some kids worthwhile there, but others have also cancelled their trips. Guys like Peyton Newell, DJ Foster and Monte Harrison could pull the trigger and commit this weekend, although I wouldn't read much if they didn't. Newell himself won't announce till the end of August, so don't worry if there isn't a big haul immediately this weekend.

However, guys like Cameron Sims, Zaire Andre, Tony James, Kalen Ballage and Joshua Kalu won't be coming, and that's a lot of firepower lost. It's not the worst thing, but just makes the fact that Nebraska's staff has to get the top targets in much bigger.

Now, was I expecting so many verbals this weekend? Of course I wasn't, and I don't think many others who cover Nebraska recruiting were either.

Even before BRW, two verbals hit the wire as OL Tanner Farmer and QB Zack Darlington announced their pledges to Nebraska football. Darlington is the QB that Nebraska wanted this cycle and is a Florida State champ, as well as one of the top HS kids in the Orlando area and a top 10 dual-threat QB. Farmer is a stud wrestler that has shown a lot of good foot and hand work to play anywhere on the offensive line.

Now, as for Friday and Saturday from BRW itself? Lets go over the synopsis of the commits shall we?

Trai Mosley: This Cornerback from Austin-area Pflugerville kicked off the weekend by putting his commitment on twitter late Friday night. Now, granted, Nebraska was his very first offer, but he had been visited by Michigan State and a few other schools before this. When the verbal came down, Texas State and SMU reported offers. Normally I would be up in arms over this, but considering that Terry Joseph and Bo worked him out before offering and taking his verbal, I feel a little better about this one.

Mick Stotenberg: Listed as the second best player in the State of Nebraska, the DT from Gretna said yes on Saturday morning after mulling the offer from the Huskers. Word is that the staff worked Stoltenberg from DL, OL, and Tight End and plan on starting his college career on the offensive side of the ball. There is a surprise that I'll address later over this, but getting Mick is better than letting him go somewhere else like Kansas State and such.

D.J Foster: The number 1 ranked player in the state of Nebraska, the Offensive Guard from Lincoln Southeast gave his word on Saturday evening. Foster is a fantastic verbal to get this moment for the fact that teams like Alabama, Michigan, Ohio St and so on were going to push hard for him this fall (and may still). In a year that the local talent is fairly good, Nebraska gets a big boost from getting the top 2 players in the state within 24 hours.

Demornay Pierson-El: The RB/WR athlete from Alexandria, Virginia also gave his verbal Saturday night. While not having a lot of offers, Pierson-El was wanted badly by North Carolina, to the point it was nearly a 50/50 split on whether he'd verbal to either Nebraska or UNC. His highlight reel shows a smaller RB that is very shifty and can both make people miss and break tackles. Some say he could be the kick returner of the future in Lincoln, and if he gets quicker, I honestly can't see the size and such be an issue in that regards.

Overall, Nebraska did very well for Big Red Weekend. Were there things that made me wonder though? Of course...

- First off, very surprised that either Missouri WR Freedom Akinmoladun or Monte Harrison didn't commit this weekend. I know a lot of people are high on both of them (me included) and could have made the perfect end to the weekend. Even though Harrison didn't visit, a verbal like the one Darlington gave would have made the momentum into the weekend even greater.

- Very, VERY surprised that Omaha Millard West DE Harrison Phillips didn't get an offer from Nebraska, even after attending and the fact that Mick Stoltenberg, while being a great DE himself, will go on offense. While I wouldn't say there are a lot of great schools on Phillips offer sheet, he's a wanted guy and the transgressions on Nebraska's defensive line makes me wonder if there's something else in store here. Lets say that Phillips is offered and verbals to Nebraska, that would make the top four players in the state Husker commits. When do you know of the last time that happened? I can't even remember that happening.

On June 1st, do you remember when I told you where Nebraska's recruiting numbers stood? They weren't very good, as it was 69th by Rivals and 74th by 247, while being 10th in the conference by both services.

This weekend helped the cause tremendously, as Nebraska went to 32nd in the Rivals rankings and 34th in the 247 rankings, while being 6th in the Big 10 on both lists.

Now, while I will say that Nebraska could (and should) be higher up on either list, there are multiple opportunities in the next few weeks for that to happen. Peyton Newell, the big time DE from Kansas, plans on announcing at the end of August, and Nebraska has been listed as the favorite there. Abu Lamin is still at Fort Scott and will come during the season. There is still an opportunity for Kalen Ballage out there.

Now, granted, a lot of recruiting guys (myself included) think that Jason Hall is going to de-commit from Nebraska to Texas. While it would hurt short term, there are going to be multiple chances to keep on filling this class that will, for better or worse, take 20-21 spots this winter. That is where my second big concern comes in.

There is some fantastic momentum going from North Stadium right now, from BRW to the possibility that Newell gives a big BOOM for the season opener. I would like to hope that, for this year at least, Nebraska will be able to keep this momentum through the summer and even the whole season into January. Not only would a B1G championship and BCS bowl appearance help, but some big steps to make the 2014 cycle a big one would help turn around some of the people down on Bo Pelini and the program right now.

However, if that doesn't happen and Nebraska has another 9-10 win season with no bowl victory and no Big 10 title, who knows how much louder the knocks will be or the divide in the fan base.

We shall see what happens. But this weekend was good. Really good.

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