The Nebraska recruiting machine churns all week. Join us Sunday through Thursday nights when we recap recruiting news, and offer analysis and context.
In a way, Talanoa Hufanga already met Mike Riley before he shook his hand.
Hufanga, the No. 2 athlete in the 2018 class, is from Corvallis, Ore., where Riley grew up and coached at Oregon State for 14 years. So when the two spoke on the field at the Nebraska spring game on April 15, it was like they’d known each other awhile, Hufanga said.
“Being from the same place, it gave me a sense of what they were all already going to be like,” Hufanga told Land of 10. “It wasn’t like I was going in blind.”
Riley personally introduced Hufanga to University of Nebraska president Hank Bounds and Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green. Hufanga hung out with more than 40 other top recruits on the sideline during the game, and sophomore safety Aaron Williams afterward. The entire visit, he said, was “unbelievable.”
“It made me speechless,” Hufanga said. “Just kind of being [with the players] was awesome. They know how to present themselves and they’re not trying to sell you or lie to you, and being around that was really cool.”
The 4-star athlete currently holds 22 offers and is ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Oregon. The recruitment of Hufanga has picked up since his visit to Lincoln less than a month ago. He most recently was offered by Alabama, and visited Oregon and Alabama for their spring games.
The Alabama visit, he said, was eye opening.
“When you hear Alabama you just think about national championships and going there and winning them,” Hufanga said. “And watching the spring game and watching them just dominate, that’s the caliber of play you have to have to go get that national championship.”
The Alabama spring game, and everything about the Crimson Tide, is “run like a business,” Hufanga said. That appealed to him.
“Coach (Nick) Saban, knows what he’s doing and they’re using all their tools to the best of their ability and not hesitating to work hard,” Hufanga said.
One week after the Alabama visit, Hufanga visited Oregon, which is a 45-minute drive from his home in Corvallis.
Hufanga was offered by Oregon’s former staff, who was let go with the firing of Mark Helfrich at the end of last season. But the current staff is recruiting the in-state talent hard.
“They’re definitely a school that has been recruiting me hard and trying to keep kids local,” Hufanga said. “The new coaching staff has a little more energy. They have a great vision of getting back to where they were when they were competing for national titles.”
Other schools recruiting Hufanga include Oregon State, Tennessee, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA and Utah.
And where does Nebraska rank?
“To be honest, I’m not committing anywhere for a while, probably until January,” Hufanga said. “So I’m not making a top list until probably August. It’ll be eight-to-10 schools probably, possibly five. I really don’t know right now.
“But Nebraska, they’re doing pretty well recruiting me right now.”
Nebraska coaches on recruiting trail
Nebraska’s coaches are on the move this week. A quick update on their travels:
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh were in Florida on Monday checking out IMG Academy.
— Danny Langsdorf (@CoachLangsdorf) May 2, 2017
Nebraska has several targets at the Florida boarding school, including 4-star WR Joshua Moore, 3-star DT Josh Walker and 4-star CB Houston Griffin — not to mention 4-star CB commit Brendan Radley-Hiles.
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and defensive line coach John Parrella were in the Kansas City area on Monday night.
— Coach Matt Perry (@Matthew_D_Perry) May 2, 2017
Running backs coach Reggie Davis was in Indianapolis.
— Reggie Davis (@BigRedRBCoach) May 2, 2017
Wide receivers coach Keith Williams was en route Tuesday from IMG in Florida to Texas.
— Keith Williams (@wideouts) May 2, 2017
Nebraska made the top eight schools of 4-star WR Isaah Crocker.
— Isaah Crocker (@zaayc) May 2, 2017
Crocker is the No. 33 wide receiver in the 2018 class and holds 11 offers. Nebraska offered the 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver on March 22.