Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class may have its national ranking (No. 22, according to the 247Sports composite), but it does not yet have its grades.
That’s where Land of 10 comes in. We break down the Huskers’ incoming offensive class, defensive class, and class as a whole below before dishing out grades for the 24-member class, which became official Wednesday during National Signing Day.
Since this a transition class — and Nebraska’s new coaches had about three weeks on the job before the early signing period and two months before Signing Day — it would be fair to grade on a curve, although this class also could be looked at as a curve wrecker.
Grading Nebraska’s 2018 offensive signing class
We’ll start with the bad news. Well, “bad” is a tad harsh. Maybe “not as good as the rest” news is more accurate. Nebraska had only two offensive line commits, but that’s because there’s about 15 scholarship linemen already on the roster. The two signees are 3-star prospects Will Farniok (early enrollee) and Willie Canty, both of whom will need time to develop.
The class has two tight ends, which might be classified as H-backs in Scott Frost’s offense, in Katerian Legrone and Cameron Jurgens, Nebraska’s top in-state prospect. Legrone flipped his commitment from UCF to Nebraska when the staff transitioned, so the coaches clearly think highly of him.
The staff knew it needed an influx of wide receivers, so the coaches went hard after the position group, getting Jaron Woodyard and Mike Williams from the JUCO ranks with the hope they can contribute quickly. The Huskers also signed vertical threats in Dominick Watt and Andre Hunt. Miles Jones is a guy with whom the staff will be creative.
The key here is that the staff was sure to recruit guys who fit the system. They made it clear they will not wait or deal with the roster they inherited in Lincoln. There were a couple of guys the staff missed on during the early signing period, but the rebound in January was spearheaded by prospects who may even be better than the Plan A prospects.
Greg Bell can come in and make an immediate contribution at running back. And perhaps the two most elite members of the class — 4-star quarterback Adrian Martinez and 4-star running back Maurice Washington — are the biggest coups for Frost. The staff flipped Martinez before the early signing period and Washington signed with the Huskers on Wednesday. Both project to be big-time playmakers.
Grading Nebraska’s 2018 defensive signing class
Like with the offense, we’ll start with the bad news. Nebraska could not bring in one defensive tackle in this class. That’s somewhat mitigated by the 3-4 defense and the need for only one nose tackle, but I’m sure the staff would have liked to add someone they’re comfortable with at that key position. Nebraska could have had Masry Mapieu if it were willing to risk the academic side of it. The staff missed on Otito Ogbonnia, but he was a long shot. Other than those two, there was no real option at the position.
The Huskers could have used one more true cornerback, but ended up missing on 4-star prospects Taiyon Palmer and Ken Montgomery. Again, it wasn’t a huge deal, since signees Braxton Clark and Cam Taylor play the position. Deontai Williams also can play nickel corner.
The linebackers are a solid group. Will Honas, a JUCO transfer, has the potential to be a starter from Day 1. Caleb Tannor is an immediate pass-rushing threat. David Alston projects to be a solid edge rusher.
But the two position groups I’m most excited about in the class on defense are end and safety. On the back end, Cam’ron Jones and C.J. Smith can be a tandem that makes plays against the pass and run. On the line, Tate Wildeman and Casey Rogers can be ends who can get after the quarterback and do just about everything. The athleticism of all four is extremely encouraging. There’s serious potential in those duos.
Defensive grade: A-
Grading Nebraska’s overall signing class
If this is what Nebraska’s staff can do in nine weeks, the rest of the Big Ten should be on notice for what they can do in an entire recruiting cycle. Accounting for the predicament the coaches found themselves in when they inherited a paltry recruiting class in early December, to turn it into a shining product is extremely impressive.
For that, there’s only one final grade that is acceptable.
Final grade: A