On this Christmas Day, there are many things Mike Riley has to be thankful for.
He turned around Nebraska in 2016 from a five-win team in the regular season to a nine-win team. He beat Oregon for the first time in years. He’s on the cusp of being able to run an offense behind one of two pro-style quarterbacks, Tanner Lee or Patrick O’Brien.
But what would be the cherry on top? What’s the best piece of recruiting news that Riley could receive as a Christmas present?
How about the commitment of 5-star cornerback Darnay Holmes.
A lot is talked about 5-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis, and for good reason. If Nebraska does land the No. 3 wide receiver in the 2017 class, the Huskers could put him into the offense immediately.
But if Nebraska could snag Holmes, he could be Nebraska’s do-it-all guy for years.
Holmes, who played with 4-star QB commit Tristan Gebbia and 3-star WR commit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. at Calabasas High School, is the No. 2 corner in the 2017 class and No. 12 overall player, according to 247sports composite.
As well as being a lockdown corner, Holmes caught 69 balls for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns from Gebbia his senior year.
He also had 22 solo tackles, a fumble recovery that turned into a touchdown and two punt returns for touchdowns.
The Holmes-to-Nebraska train slowed after the player cancelled all visits during his season to focus on football. But in the past few weeks, it’s picked back up a little.
It’s still a longshot to snag Holmes. He seems to be leaning toward Ohio State, Stanford or USC. But with wide receivers coach Keith Williams and new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams, Nebraska’s two best recruiters, there’s no doubt Nebraska still has a chance.
Holmes will announce his commitment on Jan. 7 after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game, which would be a little late for Christmas present, but I’m sure Riley wouldn’t mind.