Nebraska has already received commitments from three of the top five in-state players in the 2019 recruiting class. But there’s more work to be done if Scott Frost wants to stay true to his words and keep Nebraska’s top prospects from playing their college football elsewhere than the state’s flagship university.
Chris Hickman and Nick Henrich are a pair of 4-star teammates at Omaha (Neb.) Burke. Hickman, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, is the top-ranked recruit, with Henrich one spot below him. Together, they are a 1-2 punch any college coach and the country would consider bringing in, although they are not a package deal. But the Huskers are doing everything they can to keep them close to home, Burke coach Paul Limongi said.
“[Nebraska is] going to be as high up as anybody else in terms of where they want to go,” Limongi told Land of 10. “They’ll definitely be one of the top schools for them when it comes down to it.”
Henrich is the No. 10 inside linebacker and No. 308 overall prospect. Hickman is the 10th-ranked tight end and No. 306 overall prospect, but may move to the defensive side of the ball in college.
Limongi can’t remember exactly when, but recalls former coach Mike Riley and his staff made first contact with Burke — focusing on Hickman and Henrich, specifically — sometime in January or February after bowl game in 2016.
Riley was fired in November, ushering in Frost’s tenure. On the first day Frost made the rounds at in-state high schools, Burke was one of the first he, inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud, who takes the mantle on in-state recruiting, and other members of the staff visited.
However, as is the case with a transition class, the Huskers were forced to concentrate on the short term and finish recruiting the 2018 class before diverting their efforts to the future. Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin dropped by most during the open evaluation period in January, Limongi said. Penn State, Kansas State and Notre Dame also visited.
“[Nebraska is] a little bit behind in terms of relationships and getting to know the families and stuff like that,” Limongi said. “But I think when it opens up again and they can start calling kids again and come up and visit, they’ll be able to catch up fairly easily if they decide to do that.
“It’s uncontrollable that they got in the game so late,” he added. “The boys know that and that’s understood. I think, so, far they’ve done a good job of building the relationship.”
But before Nebraska fans become worried, Nebraska has made it clear to both they are priorities. The talk Frost gave Henrich and Hickman about turning Nebraska around on the foundation of in-state talent resonated with them.
“It got everybody in the building pretty much excited,” Limongi said.
Henrich is coming off visits to Iowa and Iowa State. He’ll head to Notre Dame next before Nebraska. Hickman visited the Huskers during a spring practice last week. At this point in their recruitments, Limongi was adamant no school holds an advantage, which is a good sign for Nebraska.
“With both of them, the thing is that there is no lead school right now,” Limongi said. “People have been saying ‘this school’ or ‘that school’. There isn’t, with either of them. They’re all equal right now. They’re not going to put them into a priority-type list until they’re done visiting, probably in the beginning of summer, so there’s no one school that has an advantage for them right now.”
Limongi said that when it comes time to advance the process and make decisions, he trusts both will do what is best for their own selves.
“The more they get to know [Henrich and Hickman] and talk about what the schools have to offer and what the guys can offer the schools,” he said, “I think they’re going to come up with ways to make a good decision.”