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Nebraska Recruiting: The 2017 Report Card

The Huskers had the best class in the Big Ten West, but there are places to get better at.

David McGee/Corn Nation

When you’re under the gun in a recruiting class and have to hit on what you sign, there’s no room for too many projects unless it’s a calculated risk. However, you have to be able to hit on some of your top targets.

Nebraska has improved many facets of their recruiting process. They have gotten out to better (not necessarily more) targets, they’ve gone wherever they need to go, and they’ve gotten more kids to visit Lincoln, especially on their own dime.

One can argue that it kind of paid off this cycle while saying that the implied payoffs will come in ‘18 and beyond. However, we’re going to talk about this cycle and places Nebraska did well at, and flat out failed.

Quarterback: A

Hits - Tristan Gebbia
Misses - None

Pretty easy move here on this position. Nebraska was looking at a couple different guys like Shon Mitchell and such before they zeroed on on Gebbia. Once they got Tristan on board, there’s nothing much else you need.

Running Back: D

Hits - Jaylin Bradley, Ben Miles
Misses - Stephen Carr, Nathan Tilford, CJ Verdell, Jamari Peacock, Kylin Hill

Without a shadow of a doubt, running back was a complete disappointment in this cycle. It honestly seemed like Reggie Davis struck out before the season, then was so damn dependent on flipping someone as the cycle went on. Nebraska got lucky that Bradley qualified, or else this would be a flat out F. Yes, getting Ben Miles is good, but the Huskers need depth at RB. The staff MUST improve here next year. Coaches have been let go from Lincoln for recruiting badly, and if you’re looking for a spot that has to improve or else, here you go.

Wide Receiver: B-

Hits: Tyjon Lindsey, Keyshawn Johnson, Jaevon McQuitty
Misses: Joseph Lewis, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jeremiah Holloman, Greg Johnson, Jamire Calvin, Isaiah Hodgins, Taariq Johnson, Bryan Thompson, Nick Robinson, Gavin Holmes

Man, where to start here? I think Keith Williams aimed high here, and that’s fine. He didn’t get as many as he wanted to in the class, and I think that’s due to both having so many kids he was waiting on at the end of the cycle, along with flipping Lindsey. Tyjon’s flip was probably the main reason Calvin didn’t come to Lincoln and got wishy-washy about things. Lewis, Johnson or Hodgins would have been the perfect cap. Nebraska did all right at WR, but it’s obvious the finish of the class could have been better.

Tight end: B

Hits: Kurt Rafdal, Austin Allen
Misses: Josh Falo, Reese Leitao

Nebraska kind of got lucky when Rafdal became available after the Indiana coaching change, but sometimes you need that luck. He and Allen will be serviceable. Plus, Rafdal and Leitao were interchangeable as far as rankings when things went down. Falo would have been great, but it didn’t seem that he was too interested in things in Lincoln. This will be a more solid group in recruiting if and when Tavita Thompson gets named as the 10th assistant.

Offensive Line: B

Hits: Matt Sichterman, Brenden Jaimes, Chris Walker, Broc Bando
Misses: Foster Sarell, Chuck Filaga, Aaron Banks

It seems like Nebraska folks want the best OL recruiting every year and why aren’t they taking more OL. However, remembering last year when Nebraska signed Matt Farniok, Bryan Brokop, Boe Wilson and John Raridon makes you a little choosy when it comes to players this cycle. Nebraska aimed high with Sarell, and gave Banks and Filaga everything they had. I do wonder if they had the chance back, they offer Brett Kitrell. He originally committed to Minnesota before heading to Ohio, but was never offered by the Huskers even after camping twice this past summer. Plus, Kitrell was a higher-ranked player than Walker and there’s whispers that Walker may be a better defensive line player.

Defensive Line: B+

Hits: Deontre Thomas, Deiontae Watts, Damion Daniels, Guy Thomas
Misses: Andrew Van Ginkel, Robert Porcher, Noah Elliss

Who would have figured that John Parrella would be the best closer yesterday? Keeping Thomas in the fold along with getting Daniels gives Parrella bragging rights to next year’s Signing Day. With the way that Nebraska is going to be shifting theories in the 3-4, getting 3 kids who can play the 0-1 technique and help fill that role is big. Granted, it’s not Tyler Shelvin, but there’s something to work with.

As far as defensive ends go, I think the unclear picture on who will put their hand in the ground on the outside of the front 3 and who becomes stand-up guys that are theoretically linebackers makes this one incomplete for now. Thomas is a guy who will be a stand-up rusher, but until Nebraska finds out what they have there for this year, we won’t know what to think. I do think Nebraska wishes they found and talked to Van Ginkel more, especially since Wisconsin plucked him from right up the road.

Linebackers: A

Hits: Avery Roberts, Willie Hampton, Andrew Ward
Misses: Issac Slade-Matautia,

It’s another spot that Nebraska is really young at, so you can take players that either can come in and play right away, or get kids in and redshirt them. Trent Bray proved that he is a great recruiter that can close kids in tough areas and get it done early. Roberts can play right away, and Hampton and Ward you can stash away and develop.

Secondary: B+

Hits: Elijah Blades
Misses: Darnay Holmes, Michael Onyemaobi, Deommodore Lenoir, Jaylon Johnson, Jaylon Redd, Trajon Cotton, Jaylen Kelly-Powell

Yes, it’s odd that a place that has one recruit has a B. But, when you’re Donte’ Williams and coming into a situation where you have 2 months to finish a cycle and have the guy recruiting these kids split less than a month into the job, you are going to be handcuffed. I do wonder if Nebraska told Onyemaobi no thanks after his visit, and I would buy that if you think you have better underclassemen on your roster, you don’t take the kid. The Cobcast guys are still sobbing over no Darnay, and a guy like Lenoir or Johnson would have been the cherry, but getting a multi tool like Blades is alright.

Class Of 2017 Stats:

Number of Official Visits: 49
Visits used on non-committed players at the time: 33

Total offers put out: 281

Decommitments: 3 (Jamire Calvin, Reese Leitao, Robert Porcher)

I know that I have sat there and bitched and moaned about using the OV, and Nebraska stepped up and did a fantastic job in not only using the OV, but also getting kids to visiting Lincoln on their own dime. It was the sole reason they were in it with Lewis and Darnay. For those still wondering about getting kids to Lincoln, go sing another song somewhere.

Nebraska did have decommitments, but every school does in the end, and it wasn’t that many. I do think Nebraska’s offer number sounds all right, and will probably get even smaller next year when the spots available is around the same, and may even be smaller.

Overall Grade: B

It feels like deja vu with the grade, but this was a good class that could have been so much better had Nebraska won one of those end races yesterday. But don’t let that take away from the kids that showed up and signed. Yes, we’ll remember how Calvin used the staff (even though they still, in the end, would have taken him) or how Nebraska finished 2nd a lot with Sarell, Lewis, Greg Johnson and Lenoir to name a few. However, you can’t win if you don’t play, and Nebraska wants better and is willing to play the game to get the payoff.

They want a higher ranking, they want better talent (even with less spots open next year) and want to win those races on Signing Day. Mike Riley sees improvement to be made, even after a good class. He didn’t want to deal with some headaches, but did because in the end it’s worth it.

This class is the best in the Big Ten West for sure. It was thisdamnclose to being a Top 20 class, and it should have it’s fair share of stars and contributors, but Nebraska must get better to get past the hump it’s had to deal with for a long time now.

I normally say you have to wait at least 2 years to figure out what a recruiting class gives you, but I think the payoff level with this class will be known quicker than that. So many young kids can play, especially all 3 WR’s and the DT’s who can become nose guards and such.

No matter what, we finally put a close on the ‘17 cycle.