It’s a big week for Nebraska and for Husker fans following what is going on in Lincoln. Camps leading up to Big Red Weekend and the ball got rolling with the fourth commitment in the 2014 class.
It didn’t take long for Nebraska to cash in on having a high profile player come to camp. In fact, it was immediately following the morning session of day one when Tanner Farmer from Highland (Ill.) decided Nebraska was the right place for him.
Farmer is a Husker
“He told me ‘this is where I need to be,’” said Brian Farmer, Tanner’s father told Big Red Report's Josh Harvey. “He then said, ‘I’m going to commit dad.’
“I told him to slow down, that I needed to call his mother. But he was persistent, ‘this feels like home dad. It’s where I need to be.’”
The fact of the matter is, Nebraska has as solid of a group of lineman coming in to the 2014 season as there has ever been in Lincoln under Bo Pelini as the head coach. There is reason for optimism the “Pipe Line” is returning to Lincoln.
Farmer is what the class needs to when it comes to an offensive lineman. He's a player that is really just scratching the surface of his ability, whose best days of football are still ahead. He's also highly intelligent, carrying a 4.37 cumulative GPA with a 27 ACT.
Have patience, the process works
Harrison Phillips from Omaha (Nebr.) Millard West was in camp the same day as Tanner Farmer. Phillips worked out at five different positions for the Nebraska coaches, mainly due in large part to his underestimated athleticism and what would seem to be a strong desire by the Nebraska coaches to fully evaluate Phillips for a possible spot in the class.
Phillips left camp beat and without an offer, but optimistic. The soon to be senior knows he improved things as much as he possibly could to get the Nebraska offer that he strongly desires. Phillips is being patient with the process which he understands.
The process works.
Phillips has other offers to consider if Nebraska doesn’t come through with an offer for him. Good offers too. There may be a feeling left of “only if” years down the road. Most of those questions will be by Husker fans, not by Phillips. He left it on the field trying to get that offer from Nebraska.
Big Red Report's Josh Harvey reported at times there were four coaches evaluating him at one time, with no less than two the whole camp. With numbers like that, it seems like Nebraska was trying to find a spot for him.
D.J. Foster can attest that doing good things at Nebraska’s summer camp leads to better things after he picked up an offer following summer camp his junior year. It’s an important message for the in-state players to remember because too many of them are thinking that it’s too difficult to get a Nebraska offer if you are an in-state recruit.
It’s a recurring theme. In-state player picks up offers that range in quality from FBS to FCS schools. Nebraska comes in to see them in the spring, sends a message about seeing them at camp, and the recruit gets discouraged when an offer doesn’t follow.
The recruits can point to the past years under Bo Pelini and see only six players from the state of Nebraska have picked up offers and subsequently signed with the Huskers. Four of the six were in the 2011 class and there has been just one each year after.
Many people point to the 2012 class and ask why a player like Drew Ott was allowed to leave the state after supposedly having a good camp at Nebraska? In fact, Ott was just leaving the camp in Lincoln when he was on the phone with Iowa and picked up an offer from the Hawkeyes.
Ott went on to become Parade All-American and was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state. The problem was that the top two players from the state of Nebraska that year were both tight ends.
The other was Sam Cotton (Cotton was ranked higher than Ott by both FOX Sports NEXT and Big Red Report) and Nebraska had a chance to evaluate Cotton right next to Ott as the two competed side by side in camp. Cotton came away with the offer and has a chance this season to be the starting tight end for Nebraska.
But, there is a wrinkle now to this. Nebraska has a need for tight ends and there might have been some sense in gobbling up both Cotton and Ott. The coaching staff got what they needed that summer though. Make the two compete, allow the two to push one another to see the field, and maybe one moves to another position.
Ott has made the move to defensive end after going to Iowa and adding some weight to his frame. As a true sophomore, he’s around 270-pounds and will likely be the starting defensive end for the Hawkeyes after appearing in five games last year.
You have to understand Nebraska’s approach here though. Nebraska got a chance to evaluate both of the in-state players, at the same summer camp session, side-by-side. They decided to offer only one, a Nebraska legacy to boot, based on their own criteria. The process works for Nebraska.
Players like Cotton and Foster would probably encourage the in-state players who are looking for a Nebraska offer this year to get to camp. Not only come to camp, but come ready. Be ready to compete and know that it is possible to come away with an offer.
I will say it again, the process works.
Big Expectations for Big Red Weekend
Sometimes a class just needs that spark. Coming into Big Red Weekend last year Nebraska already had a number of commitments in the class. The weekend itself allowed for just as many future teammates to get together one more time as there were uncommitted players in to check out the Huskers.
That is a vastly different scenario this year. Luke Gifford is there to help out the coaches when it comes to hosting and being that recruiting coordinator from inside the class. It’s tough, to duplicate how much Josh Banderas meant to the recruits and their families in last year’s class, and recreating how that affected the visitors for Big Red Weekend.
Meaning, Nebraska ended up grabbing commitments from four players who were uncommitted at the start of that weekend either on that weekend or later in the year. Nathan Gerry and Gabriel Miller were the first two to fall on that weekend while both Marcus Newby and Zach Hannon subsequently committed later in the process.
The idea of Big Red Weekend, or let’s be honest another weekend to get visitors to visit Nebraska, concocted by Pelini, Ross Els and the rest of the staff is ingenious. It paid monster dividends last year and it/s likely to do the same again this year.
Looking at the group that is publicly known will be in attendance this weekend there are some reasons for Nebraska fans to feel optimistic about getting additional commitments this weekend and in the coming weeks and months. Here are Bryan’s best bets:
Freedom Akinmoladun, TE/DE, Grandview (Mo.)
Demornay Pierson-El, WR, West Potomac (Va.)
The months that follow:
D.J. Foster, OL, Lincoln (Nebr.) Southeast
Peyton Newell, DL, Hiawatha (Kans.)