Nebraska recruiting: Recapping National Signing Day for Huskers
Stay updated with Nebraska Cornhuskers football recruiting in the latest edition of The Harvest, which posts at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Be sure to check out previous editions of The Harvest here.
The wins of National Signing Day
Perhaps Nebraska coach Scott Frost said it best during his news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“You don’t have to get them all,” Frost said while talking about his recruiting philosophy. “You just have to get the right ones.”
And for a transition class that will be adjusting to a new scheme, this is as close to getting all the “right ones” as possible.
The first win of the day was the first announcement involving the Huskers, when 4-star outside linebacker Caleb Tannor announced his signing with Nebraska. He began trending toward the Huskers this week and that came to fruition early Wednesday. In Tannor, Nebraska gains a pass rusher who could make a quick impact.
After his announcement, Tannor cited that potential for early playing time, the ability to be a pass-rushing linebacker, and the coaching staff as the primary reasons for choosing Nebraska.
Five hours later, 4-star running back Maurice Washington announced for Nebraska. Everyone pretty much saw this coming, especially after a strong official visit last weekend. Washington said he believes in Frost and intends on helping Nebraska return to its winning ways.
“Maybe I can be the face of the program and we can go win a [national championship],” Washington said during an interview with ESPN following his announcement.
In between those two pivotal announcements, the Huskers made solid additions at cornerback and tackle. Cam Taylor, a 3-star athlete, signed with Nebraska. The Huskers had been the favorite, but there was fear a late offer from Auburn could make things interesting on Signing Day. Instead, he stuck with his gut and signed the paperwork instead of holding out.
Willie Canty, a 3-star tackle, also signed with Nebraska. He was an official visitor last weekend and the momentum was all Nebraska from there. The Belle Glade, Fla., native selected the Huskers over Louisville.
The day was bookended by good news, with Tannor kicking it off and 3-star wide receiver Andre Hunt ending it. Hunt became the 24th member of the class when he announced on FOX Sports West during the late afternoon.
The Huskers also signed all six of their commits on Wednesday: 4-star safety Cam’ron Jones, 3-star defensive end Casey Rogers, 3-star athlete Miles Jones, 3-star wide receiver Dominick Watt, 3-star cornerback Braxton Clark and 3-star safety C.J. Smith.
Misses on National Signing Day
For each gain, there is a loss. That couldn’t have been more true for Nebraska on Signing Day.
While landing Tannor was huge, it became pivotal when Javontae Jean-Baptiste signed with Ohio State. The Huskers had been in the lead for Jean-Baptiste down the stretch, but that changed early in the week. By Tuesday, the Huskers were out of it, despite last-minute efforts.
The salt in the wound here is that Jean-Baptiste will be with a Big Ten rival. Of course, his signing was filled with drama, as his school was closed due to inclement weather and he signed and faxed in his letter of intent from a Bergen Catholic (N.J.) assistant coach’s home office.
A couple of early misses included 4-star cornerback Ken Montgomery (Maryland) and 3-star defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia (UCLA). The Huskers hosted both for official visits last weekend but couldn’t close with either. Both were going to be tough sells, but they would have been useful additions to the class.
Nebraska missed on another cornerback in 4-star prospect Taiyon Palmer (N.C. State). That was another expected decision. Finally, Jarrett Bell ended his will-he-or-won’t-he dance with Nebraska. The 3-star offensive lineman signed with Arizona State, which he’d been trending toward for some time despite being the Huskers’ top target on the line once recruiting picked up again in January.
It was pretty much what you expected for Nebraska on Signing Day. The Huskers went 5 for 10, which was what was predicted. Of course, pulling out a surprise with someone such as Palmer or Ogbonnia would have been great, but the reality is that the staff probably didn’t have its hopes too high.
The Jean-Baptiste and Tannor situations are intertwined and I find it so interesting. Landing both obviously would have been ideal, but likely too tall of a task. I always thought it was more of an “either or” situation. I didn’t really see a scenario in which neither landed with Nebraska or one in which both signed.
Nebraska not having any question marks with the commitments they had secured before Wednesday was a plus. All six of those commits signed without drama. That was big because it allowed the staff to focus on finishing out the class rather than devoting time to holding commits.
That’s it for now. We’ll have a bunch of post-mortem content about the 2018 class before we completely turn the page to the 2019 class, so stay tuned.
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