The first signing period for the 2022 recruiting class has came to a close. There’s a lot to like within who signed, as the usual suspects on staff helped clean up to remove us from complete disaster. Travis Fisher did work as he always does to stock his room and create great competition, and a guy like Barrett Ruud solidified some local guys pretty early when things weren’t going our way.
But the reality of the situation is Nebraska finished dead last in the Big Ten rankings for a recruiting class for the first time ever. And quite frankly we’ve never been lower than 5th since joining the conference. We were 53rd in the team recruiting rankings overall, which I believe is the first time that has ever happened in school history as well. According to Brian Munson, Nebraska only had 2 official visitors on campus during the season, which is eye-opening considering everyone says that our gameday atmosphere is what lures everyone here. Many people will tell you “ya, but that’s because we have a small class” which is somewhat correct. But it’s neglecting the fact that Nebraska finished with a bottom 50% average star ranking in the B1G as well, tying for 7th with Northwestern and Wisconsin.
It was a tough go this class, they missed on all 4 kids they went after in Omaha, but corralled a local guy like Hausmann early. They got in a little later than I thought they would with Appleget but that is not a huge problem, and once things really started going south we threw out the playbook and finally offered Stenger from Millard South to get him to flip from Kansas State. Jackson is going to Oregon, Helms to Oklahoma, Riley-Ducker to Auburn, and Woods will probably end up at Independence CC to get to Mizzou eventually. But the bottom line is what happened up in Omaha early, where every kid that was a four star had us outside of their top 5, that happened at a larger scale nationally. And that’s in-state recruiting, where many times recruits will just throw you a bone. Put you in there to not have to feel the wrath of the fanbase over Twitter. And everything I made mention of to show people how bad things were going on the trail were really highlighted with how the final rankings ended up.
Further, if you remember I always made mention about how it’s not good to get kids late and have them sign. Guys you don’t really have a relationship with or are just signing last minute can sometimes be detrimental. I used to reference the 2020 class where we signed 26 kids, where 12 were signed in December (nearly half the class). 4 transferred out before their first were was even done, Cerni will medically retire, Joseph, Butler, and Mauga are waiting to play. But guys like Manning, Brown, and Riley will play or have played for us. And luckily Payne withdrew his name from the portal when there weren’t many suitors.
The bottom line is you get kids making a quick decision and it may not be the right fit. Hopefully this works out. And let’s be honest, with new staff members, there were going to be late additions just like the 2018 class. But remember, you always hear excuses about the misses there being a transition class so it really wasn’t this coaches fault since they had to fill it so quickly.
What I always go back to and I made mention in a different post, is that Nebraska is struggling recruiting right now. They need to hit the transfer portal hard. They aren’t going to get a ton of difference makers out of high school right now, so get the guys looking for a fresh start that have played at the FCS or FBS level. But enough of that, let’s take a look at who we signed:
Quarterback – Richard Torres – San Antonio, TX – Kansas State, Utah, Washington State
The QB was an interesting one, especially with an OC change. Further, Torres tore his knee this year back in September and missed almost his entire senior campaign. On his hudl film there’s a lot to look at to see why the staff likes him. But how he comes back from a major knee injury makes it a big wildcard that he will end up starting for Nebraska.
Runningback – Emmett Johnson – Richfield, MN – Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan
Nebraska had Ashton Hayes committed for a long time out of Reno, NV who was highly ranked and had some decent HUDL film. But he decommitted and went to Cal, so Nebraska scrambled a bit to find a RB for this class. While Johnson does not have a Power 5 offer, there are some things to like about his film. While watching, he can really cut well when moving at full speed. However, it’s tough to tell how he can fit at a Power 5 level as his film is mostly him running through massive holes created by his OLine. With over 2,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns, you take a chance on him when you are kind of looking around. Maybe he can be our 2022 Devine Ozigbo, who was committed to Iowa State but flipped immediately when Nebraska came calling.
Wide Receiver – Victor Jones – Orlando, FL – Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville
It’s funny, at one point we were saying how we needed bigger WRs and the 6’1 guys we used to be recruiting weren’t tall enough. We even said Wan’Dale Robinson was too short and we needed bigger. At 6’2″ Jones is our tallest WR recruit. But he has a ton of things that I like and makes him my favorite WR recruit that was committed to the old staff. His route running is exceptional and he does an unbelievable job of getting the DB turn their hips away from where he’s going. He’s a bit of a “strider” but that can really help when running deep routes or crossing routes. He had 53 receptions for 847 yards on a .500 team. He will get some serious look for early PT here, but it will all depend on what direction we go with the offense and who comes back.
Wide Receiver – Decoldest Crawford – Shreveport, LA – LSU Commit
When you lose coaches things can go a bit crazy, but Joseph solidified Jones and brought with him Crawford from Louisiana. As referenced earlier in this post, getting kids late can sometimes be a gamble. Crawford signed before even taking a visit to Lincoln, but relationship with Joseph can trump all things. It reminds me a bit of what kids would say with former coach Keith Williams. While our former WR recruit Page had torn his ACL and not played his senior year (signed with Colorado), this is a step up from him IMO.
TightEnd – Chase Androff – Lakeville, MN – Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan State
This one I am a little torn on. With no offer from home state Minnesota it leaves you wondering why. He only had 10 receptions and less than 200 yards his senior year. While many people said we didn’t take one of the 2 Omaha TEs because of the amount we took last year, we go out and sign a TE from Minnesota. So on paper, this one is a big reach for me. Could it be we are trying to bulk him up and move him to the line? If so, it smells of Matthew Anderson or Jimmy Fritzsche to me. If it’s for TE, I like guys like Fidone, Carnie, and our 2023 commit a lot better. This is one that i’ll have to see how the kid develops and where we place him.
OffensiveLine – Justin Jenkins – Irvington, NJ – Boston College, Cincy, Duke
This will be an interesting one, not to beat a dead horse, but this was basically our signing day fix for losing Cam Jurgens to the NFL draft. Nebraska needs to look hard into the transfer portal for OL to come help immediately. We don’t have time to just cross our fingers and hope the issues along the OL get figured out, especially with the best player leaving for the draft. In good news, since Jenkins is 6’1″ it appears Nebraska is scrapping the idea of a minimum height requirement for linemen. We missed out on too many guys doing that.
DefensiveLine – Brodie Tagaloa – Concord, CA – Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Tennessee
At 6’4″ and 260 pounds, we have Tagaloa slated to replace Stille who is leaving school in what seems like his dozenth season. There are big shoes to fill along the DL as we lose arguably our 2 best DL in Stille and Daniels. With that said, DE seems in decent hands with Robinson and Rogers to help the young pups move up. We were Tagaloa’s first offer way back in the spring and it appears the relationship built with Tuioti is what put us over the top. What I like even more about him is he is a basketball player as well, a multi-sport kid. His highlight film is tough to tell much of anything as it has a lot of offensive plays on it, but it at least leaves me intrigued enough to like the addition.
Linebacker – Ernest Hausmann – Columbus, NE – Arizona State, Boston College, Iowa
While Hausmann had some pretty good numbers offensively, it was clear his potential for Power 5 is on the defensive side of the ball. A long and athletic kid, he played behind the line of scrimmage many times for Columbus. I’ll be curious where we start him in the LB room. Everything about him screams OLB to me, but we typically like guys his size to start at ILB. We got in early and locked this kid up as our first commit, and a local kid to boot.
Linebacker – Jake Appleget – Lincoln, NE – Minnesota
Things started going a bit south with official visits during the summer, and Nebraska had someone a few miles down the road. Appleget I thought should have received an offer after his junior year, but I have no problem with the staff wanting to wait and see a bit more from him and evaluate in person. Appleget played all over, hauling in passes and running the ball for the Knights. He also played defensively for them, and he reminds me a lot of Luke Gifford. We will see if we can get him to play as well as that comparison.
Linebacker – Gage Stenger – Omaha, NE – Kansas State commit
Much like with Appleget, when things started going south just go back to your roots. Stenger was committed to the Wildcats and once we offered he flipped. When he committed is when people really started worrying, because it went Appleget in June then nothing at all til Stenger in October. We were getting basically no traction with official visits at all. But I loved this pickup. Stenger played QB for Millard South and is an unbelievable athlete, but he will be on the defensive side of the ball for Nebraska. If I had to guess he starts in maybe the Isaac Gifford/Javin Wright mold but possibly moves to ILB with Ruud. The problem becomes we are stockpiling ILB talent, we need to develop OLBs and the role behind Gifford who is replacing Domann.
Defensiveback – Jaden Gould – Oradell, NJ – Arizona State, Boston College, Penn State
This is our guy of the class. A stud. Per Rivals, our only 4 star. But give Mike Dawson and former Bergen Catholic coach Jonathan Germano the assist with Fisher here. If Fisher gets help from a pipeline area, he’s lights out. He can play pretty much anywhere in the secondary for us, and I think Fisher will try to work him in wherever he can see the field the quickest. We lost our starting two safeties, but he may fit best at corner where we’ve lost CTB. I have zero idea how to figure out where our DB recruits play, so I’ll just speak in generalities.
Defensiveback – Jalil Martin – Chicago, IL – Boston College, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Mizzou
I absolutely love this pickup from Fisher as well. My friend who coaches for BOOM football (basically Warren Academy on steroids) out of Chicago said this kid is a bit of a freak. He is really long and also plays offense. At 6’3″ I think we are going to start him at safety or the Domann role, then see if we can develop him into a bit of an OLB. he has great athletic ability and gives a ton of flexibility for what we want to do with him or where we need him.
Defensiveback – Malcolm Hartzog – Bassfield, MS – Ole Miss
This is one I’ll have to keep an eye on, as he committed on the spot during his official to us. He helped lead his team to a state title, but at 5’10 and minimal offers i’m curious where he can fit for us as Fisher likes the longer players. With that said, he also played offense and returned kicks, so could he help us in special teams as well?
Defensiveback – Deshon Singleton – Hutchinson CC – Kansas, Kansas State
Here is one of the guys we brought in for immediate help to replace our starting safeties Dismuke and Williams leaving. With 2 starting safeties gone as well as CTB, you can’t sit idle and just bring in high school guys to replace them. We are going to need immediate help from a starter that wasn’t on the roster in 2021 in my opinion, and I would expect a portal addition as well in the defensive backfield. With 3 out of the 4 DB starting spots up for grabs, Nebraska is an attractive spot. Singleton helped his JUCO win a conference title and also played offense in high school. He was a full qualifier out of high school so we actually can have 4 years with him which is a huge bonus.
There’s no doubt that we struggled this year. From a small class, to not getting traction with official visits, to not getting the star power we normally do, it was tough sledding. But there’s a lot to like. I think the in-state LB crew we got can really help out down the line. Fisher continues to do work in his room.
But we got a QB that was out all year with a leg injury, a RB that we scrambled for, a TE the home state school didn’t offer, and a linemen we were able to snag in 24 hours. If not for Mickey Joseph we would have been in a lot of trouble on offense.
The reality of the situation is that if this staff wants to be here for a few more years, the portal is where we are going to need to do work anyway. The 2022 class had some good players come on board like Crawford, Gould, Martin, and Jones, but the reality is we need immediate help that probably wasn’t going to commit to us in a make or break year. Not to go Pelini with this statement, but we weren’t going to get too many “ready-mades” to come in and help immediately. I will be curious how we navigate JUCO moving forward with the loss of Held. He did an unreal job making us look decent when things went south on the recruiting trail.
I’d rate this class a ‘C’ if I had to, but truly what is going to matter is how we do in 2022 otherwise we won’t get to see the development and vision of this staff anyway.