Nebraska picked up their fourth commitment last night for the class of 2013 and it was a big one. A.J. Natter, a four-star rated defensive end from Milton (Wisc.), is the No. 13 rated defensive end in the nation and the No. 1 player in the state of Wisconsin this year. Natter chose Nebraska over offer from Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Boston College and others.
The commitment itself is big. The defensive end position is one of need in this year’s class. Fox Sports National recruiting analyst Allen Trieu says what makes Natter special are the intangibles. He admits that he will have to work on pad level, but he has the size to play on the strong side in college.
“I think A.J. is exactly what you look for in a high school defensive line prospect,” Trieu said. “He has the frame to add a lot of weight still, and adding that bulk and strength is the easy part. What's harder is teaching kids to play hard and giving them the athleticism to run down running backs at 6-foot-6.
“A.J. brings all of that to the table. He's a high intensity, high motor guy and a very good athlete as evidenced by what he does in space on his film and his ability to play from a two-point despite his size. I think he'll end up growing into a 275-280-lb strong-side defensive end. He'll have to work on playing lower to play the run at that spot, but I don't see that being a problem.”
The Natter commitment is big, but what makes it more significant is where Natter is from. Natter is from the heart of Big Ten country. The commitment to Trieu caught him off-guard to some extent because he wouldn’t have guessed Natter would leave Wisconsin and even said that he wouldn’t have put Nebraska in the top two or three for Natter before the commitment.
“If I had to handicap this from the start, it really looked like a tough battle for the Huskers. Wisconsin usually has a fence up and they offered Natter, and Michigan State has done particularly well in Wisconsin the last few years and they offered and had him down for a visit recently.
“Then there was Iowa, a school he really seemed to like, so they faced stiff competition. An excellent recruiting job by the Husker staff when you consider some of the built in advantages their competitors had in this one.”
The class is coming together for Nebraska. What’s interesting is that all of the commitments to this point are all on the defensive side of the ball. There was an emphasis on defense in last year’s class and while it’s expected to a little more balanced this year you can’t overlook this core of defensive talent that Nebraska is putting together.
“If defense wins championships holds true, then the Cornhuskers should be contenders based on this class so far. It's defensive heavy and that's what I think of when I think of traditional Nebraska football. Good running game and a strong defense.
“Just looking at the two Midwest kids, Natter and Marcus McWilson, those guys had impressive offer lists and could have gone a lot of other places. For the Huskers to get those guys sewn up early is a great work. I've seen both on film and think they're both likely to be impact guys at the next level.”