The end of the college football season ushers in the Nebraska football recruiting season, bringing with it a wave of hope and optimism as the Children of the Corn watch grainy videos of high school players and dream of future gridiron glory.
As Matt Hinton from Yahoo! Sports definitively demonstrated, recruiting matters if you want to win in college football. How Nebraska does in recruiting season makes a big difference in how likely it is NU will have success on the field in the next few years.
So let’s take a look at how Nebraska has done recently in terms of recruits committed and recruits still on NU’s target list.
All statistics and other information, unless otherwise cited, is from ESPN.com’s RecruitingNation.
Terrell Newby – RB, 5’9”, 185 pounds, Chaminade (CA) College Prep School
Newby’s commitment was expected, but it doesn’t diminish the impact Newby has on Nebraska’s 2013 recruiting class. A small and speedy back, Newby looks capable of being a threat on the perimeter and as a receiver. He joins running back Adam Taylor, a 6’1”, 200-pound back who projects more as a between-the-tackles bruiser, in NU's class of 2013. The combination of Newby and Taylor makes running back a huge position of strength for Nebraska—if both commits remain solid.
Randy Gregory – DE, 6’5”, 235 pounds, Arizona Western College
Gregory isn’t all that new of a commit—he announced his intention to play for Nebraska in November of 2012—but he might be the most important one for the 2013 season. Gregory is a pass rusher, an area where Nebraska needs desperately to improve. While Nebraska is better at defensive end than defensive tackle, the entire defensive line is an area of concern next season. Gregory will come in and compete for playing time immediately.
Maliek Collins – DT, 6”2”, 285 pounds, Center (MO) High School
Nebraska’s depth at defensive tackle was so bad in 2012 that NU was forced to move defensive end Cameron Meredith inside to play tackle in the B1G title game and the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska has some young talent that the coaches are pinning their hopes on in players like Vincent Valentine, Aaron Curry and Kevin Williams. There are also more experienced tackles like Chase Rome and Thaddeus Randle who Nebraska coaches hope will be able to fill the breach.
But little doubt remains that defensive tackle is one of the biggest question marks for Nebraska in 2013. The addition of Collins helps to strengthen depth at that critical position.
Priest Willis – S, 6’2”, 199 pounds, Marcos De Niza (AZ) High School
If Terrell Newby and Johnny Stanton were Nebraska’s home-runs on offense, Willis would definitely be considered one on defense. Willis has the size and speed to play the type of press-man coverage Bo Pelini favors. RecruitingNation lists him at safety, but its scouting report projects him as a cornerback, meaning he would have the flexibility to fit in throughout a Nebraska secondary that will be almost entirely rebuilt in 2013.
Cethan Carter – TE, 6’4”, 240 pounds, Metiarie (LA)
With the graduation of Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed, Nebraska is left with only senior Jake Long as a tight end on the roster with any playing experience. Nebraska did sign Greg Hart as a tight end prospect, and most recruiting services had NU in the mix for junior college prospect Brandon Vandenberg to come in and compete for playing time right away.
Which made for a very strange story when Vandenberg posted Tuesday on his Twitter feed, three days before he was scheduled to visit Nebraska:
Nebraska coach calls me today and says "we were so busy and we didn't realize that we forgot to tell you we aren't taking a JC TE this year"
Given Nebraska’s depth and lack of experience at the position, that’s a pretty amazing stance for NU to take. But if that’s the case, the coaches must feel relatively comfortable with the talent on the roster. Nevertheless, adding another top-notch tight end prospect like Carter would certainly be a big boost for depth at the position.
(Information on Carter from Sam McEwon’s Omaha World-Herald recruiting roundup)
Tre'Vell Dixon – ATH, 6’0”, 185 pounds, West Saint Mary (LA) High School
Dixon was Nebraska’s first commit for the 2013 class—and the first decommit. But now Dixon has Nebraska in the running once again and has the potential to be an intriguing playmaker. Although he plays quarterback in high school, Dixon would likely be a Jamal Turner-like receiver and return specialist if he comes to Lincoln. He has enough speed and elusiveness to be another offensive weapon in Nebraska’s already-impressive arsenal.
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