Mike Riley and his staff identified a priority target at the quarterback position early in the 2019 class. Just an hour up I-80 from Lincoln, Neb., on the other side of the Missouri River and the Nebraska-Iowa border, is Council Bluffs, Iowa, the hometown of 4-star quarterback recruit Max Duggan.
Nebraska took the early lead for Duggan, who attends Lewis Central High School. Since then, the Huskers fired Riley and hired Scott Frost. Even with the staff turnover, Duggan remains a coveted quarterback for Nebraska. Now, Duggan is nearing a decision, with several schools in contention for the No. 7-ranked dual-threat quarterback and No. 295 overall prospect in the class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Duggan told Land of 10 he intends to announce his commitment sometime in April.
“I don’t have a specific date, but I’ve been planning on hopefully [deciding] this April,” he said. “If I’m not ready, I’m not going to.”
But Duggan’s internal goal is to be prepared to make that decision soon.
“I think it’s good as a quarterback to be one of the first couple people in a class, just to help build around,” Duggan said. “Another thing is, I’ve had great relationships with a lot of people. I’ve gone on a lot of visits. It’s just kind of where I’m feeling. I feel like I’m close to making a decision and all that. It’s just kind of the right time.
“Coaches have talked to me about how it helps a lot when a quarterback is committed because it helps with then getting receiver commits, knowing who’s going to be in their class. It helps a lot knowing who’s going to be the leader, the kid who starts the class. You’ve seen that with other schools.”
It’s true that Duggan has had quite the recruitment. Twenty-four offers. Top programs from every major conference clamoring to have him on their team. Injuries that cost him a good chunk of his junior season.
This month, Duggan has taken unofficial visits to Ohio State, Notre Dame and TCU.
“They were great,” Duggan said of the visits. “They were awesome. They were kind of the places I hadn’t seen yet.”
Duggan is scheduled to visit Minnesota this weekend.
“I’ve had a good relationship with Coach [P.J.] Fleck and Coach Kirk Ciarrocca, the QB coach,” Duggan said. “I’ve stayed in touch with them. And we’ve been communicating back and forth, building that relationship.”
Minnesota has hosted Duggan a couple of times already. This time around, Duggan wants to take a good look at the newly opened football facility.
But beyond Minnesota, he does not have any more visits planned. Nebraska is hosting junior days the next two weekends. The spring game on April 21 will be a recruiting weekend, too.
“I’ve talked with Coach Frost about it,” Duggan said. “I haven’t put out a schedule [of visits] yet, but Nebraska is so close to me I can schedule that for the next day. I don’t know if I’ll make it down there just because I have been there. It was with the old staff. It would be an easy visit for us.”
With Duggan planning to commit within 30 days, it could be important for Duggan to see how the coaches have settled in on campus. A visit before his announcement could bode well for the Huskers.
Nebraska’s new staff has kept momentum with Max Duggan
Nebraska held the early momentum on Duggan’s 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction. Then, the Gophers picked up some steam and now hold 40 percent of the predictions. Notre Dame figures to be the wild card here, but certainly a potential option for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound recruit.
Quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and Frost have taken the lead in Duggan’s recruitment for Nebraska. Things are off to a good start, he said.
“They’re really working hard,” Duggan said. “They’re going to build something special at Nebraska. They’re doing the right things. They’re bringing in the right people so I’ve really enjoyed building my relationship with them.”
The whole staff coming from UCF plays well with Duggan. He said they reached out quickly and stayed in touch, making for a smooth transition.
Riley and former offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf — Nebraska fans will have to send them thank you cards if Duggan indeed goes with Nebraska — put Nebraska in good shape. But Frost and his staff will have to be the ones to finish the job.
Duggan knew to be patient with the new Nebraska regime. The coaches had to quickly construct a foundation for the 2018 class and spent nearly all of January filling out the cycle.
“I wasn’t really worried about it,” Duggan said. “I knew if they were interested, they would come around.”
The coaches offered him at UCF, so there was some familiarity.
As for whether Duggan fits in Frost’s offense, that won’t be a problem. Duggan said he liked the way UCF used starting quarterback McKenzie Milton, riding the offense to a 13-0 record and Peach Bowl victory.
“Scheme-wise, I think I fit very well,” he said. “I enjoy a lot of the things they’re doing offensively. We do a lot of stuff here at my high school in our offense.”
Duggan remembers being around the quarterback room during his previous visits. He also said the campus is “awesome” and the facilities are “amazing.”
“When I was there, I got to interact with the players and all that,” Duggan said. “They seemed very open. I could get along with them. They’d be very good teammates. That’s what I enjoyed.”
Being close to home isn’t that big of a deal, Duggan said. He holds offers ranging from Oregon to Georgia.
“It probably wouldn’t hurt [Nebraska being close], but it wouldn’t help it,” Duggan said. “I’m not trying to stay home or go far away or anything like that. I’m just trying to find the right place. My right place might be in my backyard or it might be 500 miles away. I’m just trying to figure that out.”
As the recruiting process has progressed, Duggan has realized the weight of it all. Duggan is now facing the reality that awaits the end of a journey.
He must pick a school.