2014 National Signing Day logo2014 National Signing Day

Nebraska National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis

Patrick RungeCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2014

Nebraska National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis

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    Dave Weaver/Associated Press

    Nebraska fans have now seen national signing day for 2014 go in the books, with the Cornhuskers bringing in 24 scholarship players. According to 247Sports, Nebraska’s class is ranked No. 35 nationally and No. 6 in the Big Ten.

    Bleacher Report’s Erin Sorensen has already given you a breakdown of the class and has explained why head coach Bo Pelini’s 2014 class is better than you think. So let’s take things in a different direction, and look at the class from a position-by-position basis.

    Here, we’ll give you the recruits signed at each position, a letter grade based on the overall talent of the class at that position (in other words, how good are these players in comparison to other recruits around the country?) and a separate letter grade for how Nebraska addressed team needs at the position with the 2014 class.

    All measurables and rankings are from 247Sports.

Quarterback

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Zack Darlington (6’2”, 207 pounds, 3-star, 89 composite, No. 10 dual-threat QB)

    AJ Bush (6’3”, 211 pounds, 2-star, 79 composite, No. 41 dual-threat QB)

     

    Grade, overall talent: B

    Grade, addressing team needs: A-

     

    Analysis

    The early commit of Darlington was good news for Nebraska’s 2014 class, which addressed the quarterback need right away. But his concussion history raised questions as to whether he would play a snap for Nebraska, which gave rise to the need for a second quarterback in Bush to be added.

    If Darlington is able to play, the overall talent grade would be an A, as his skills look to be at least in the ballpark with current scholarship quarterbacks Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Johnny Stanton. Bush looks to be a little more of a project, and if Darlington is unable to play, then Nebraska’s depth at quarterback would take a hit.

Running Back

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Mikale Wilbon (5’9”, 195 pounds, 4-star, 90 composite, No. 18 RB)

    Larenzo Stewart (5’6”, 170 pounds, 3-star, 87 composite, No. 13 APB)

     

    Grade, overall talent: A

    Grade, addressing team needs: B+

     

    Analysis

    Well, so much for worrying about running talented recruits off. Even with the cupboard fairly well stocked at running backs, Nebraska signed two exciting prospects. Wilbon looks like he is ready to take snaps as a freshman—and he may very well do so, depending on how spring and fall practice progress.

    Stewart might be a bit more of a long-term project, particularly given his size, but his speed makes his addition to the class very exciting.

Receivers

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Monte Harrison (6’3”, 200 pounds, 4-star, 90 composite, No. 52 WR)

    Freedom Akinmoladun (6’5”, 238 pounds, 3-star, 86 composite, No. 32 TE)

    Demornay Pierson-El (5’9”, 171 pounds, 3-star, 82 composite, No. 124 ATH)

    Jariah Tolbert (6’3”, 185 pounds, 3-star, 81 composite, No. 197 WR)

    Glenn Irons (5’10”, 170 pounds, 2-star, 79 composite, No. 210 WR)

    Junior college wide receiver commit Robert Lockhart (6’1, 185 pounds, 3-star, 89 composite), has not yet signed with Nebraska and is therefore not included in this analysis.

     

    Grade, overall talent: B+

    Grade, addressing team needs: B

     

    Analysis

    The headline of this group—and perhaps the 2014 class as a whole—is Harrison, whose athletic skills have the potential to be game-breaking for Nebraska. But he is on the radar screens of a number of major league baseball clubs, and he will likely have to turn down a lot of money to wear scarlet and cream this fall. If he ends up taking the Bubba Starling route and not arriving, the class grade would drop precipitously.

Offensive Line

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Tanner Farmer (6’3.5”, 302 pounds, 4-star, 92 composite, No. 15 OG)

    Nick Gates (6’5”, 270 pounds, 4-star, 92 composite, No. 21 OT)

    D.J. Foster (6’1”, 300 pounds, 3-star, 87 composite, No. 39 OG)

     

    Grade, overall talent: A

    Grade, addressing team needs: A-

     

    Analysis

    The offensive line is probably Nebraska’s biggest success in the class of 2014, with two 4-star prospects who could see the field as soon as this season. Adding in Foster, a local kid who is a high 3-star prospect, adds additional depth in an area that was a struggle for Nebraska last season.

Defensive Line

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Joe Keels (6’4”, 275 pounds, 4-star, 93 composite, No. 5 JUCO DT)

    Peyton Newell (6’2”, 290 pounds, 4-star, 90 composite, No. 21 DT)

    Mick Stoltenberg (6’6”, 250 pounds, 3-star, 84 composite, No. 52 SDE)

    Sedrick King (6’3.5”, 250 pounds, 3-star, 82 composite, No. 66 WDE)

    DeAndre Wills (6’3”, 262 pounds, 2-star, 79 composite, No. 85 WDE)

     

    Grade, overall talent: B

    Grade, addressing team needs: B-

     

    Analysis

    Grading Nebraska’s performance on the defensive line is awfully tough when you have to separate what actually is—two 4-star prospects including one who will likely play immediately—from what could have been if the Cornhuskers could have held onto Darius Slade, Blake McClain or Terrell Clinkscales.

    While the two tackle additions are welcome and vitally necessary, it is legitimate to question whether Nebraska was able to bring in a difference-maker at defensive end to put opposite Randy Gregory. The likelihood of Stoltenberg moving to the offensive line makes the defensive end haul for 2014 look even more questionable.

Linebacker

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Recruit

    Jaevon Walton (6’0”, 230 pounds, 3-star, 84 composite, No. 44 ILB)

     

    Grade, overall talent: C

    Grade, addressing team needs: B

     

    Analysis

    Given Nebraska’s embarrassment of riches with young linebacker talent, the position was the one of least need coming into 2014. Walton is a decent enough prospect and will provide depth, but he is unlikely to make any huge waves for Nebraska in the next year or so.

Defensive Backs

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Recruits

    Byerson Cockrell (6’2”, 185 pounds, 3-star, 86 composite, No. 10 JUCO S)

    Luke Gifford (6’3”, 195 pounds, 3-star, 82 composite, No. 120 ATH)

    Joshua Kalu (6’0”, 230 pounds, 3-star, 83 composite, No. 104 S)

    Trai Mosley (5’10”, 171 pounds, 3-star, 86 composite, No. 70 CB)

    Chris Jones (6’0”, 175 pounds, 4-star, 87 composite, No. 54 ATH)

     

    Grade, overall talent: B

    Grade, addressing team needs: B

     

    Analysis

    Nebraska brings in a lot of high 3-star bodies into the secondary to compete for positions, so on one hand refilling depth at the back is a good thing. However, no one in the 2014 class looks to be a standout difference-maker, so it’s hard to get terribly excited about any of the secondary recruits this season.

    Development will be key in this area to see if Nebraska has located players who will perform above their scouting level in years to come.

Special Teams

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Recruit

    Drew Brown (5’10”, 160 pounds, 2-star, 78 composite, No. 11 K)

     

    Grade, overall talent: C

    Grade, addressing team needs: B

     

    Analysis

    Last year, Nebraska was in a position of needing to replace a starting placekicker, a starting punter, a starting long snapper and a starting holder on special teams. That’s not a good place to be, so the signing of any special teams player is wise in this class.

    The fact that Brown is a legacy player (he's the younger brother of NFL kicker Kris Brown) certainly helps, and it ultimately made a lot of sense to bring him in as depth and planning for the future.

     

    If you'd like to contact Patrick, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.comOr, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.

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