Nebraska Football Recruiting: Ranking the 2012 Class of Future Huskers

Mike WehlingAnalyst IFebruary 2, 2012

Nebraska Football Recruiting: Ranking the 2012 Class of Future Huskers

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    The 2012 recruiting season is over, and Nebraska ends the class with 17 players who want to don the Scarlet and Cream of the Cornhuskers.  The recruiting season was filled with ups and downs for the Huskers, as they lost out on some top recruits, but they did land some top players and put together a top class at No. 25, according to Rivals.

    Now that the recruiting season is over, it's time to reflect on the recruits that Nebraska is getting and who will make the biggest impact for the Huskers.

    This list not only takes into account the ranking of recruits but also who will make the biggest impact for the Huskers next season.

17. LeRoy Alexander

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    Position: Athlete

    Hometown: Toledo, Ohio

    Alexander is a 3-star athlete (Rivals) from Ohio, who the Huskers offered late and received a commitment shortly after he visited Lincoln.

    According to Bo Pelini, Alexander will play on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary, which is somewhat strange considering Alexander played on the offensive side.  Alexander is not a highly-rated recruit, but it seems that the coaching staff sees something in him and hopes to make him into a productive player.  A sort of diamond in the rough.

16. Sam Cotton

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    Position: Tight End

    Sam Cotton is a 3-star tight end (Rivals) from Lincoln, Nebraska.  In case you are completely unfamiliar with the Husker program, Sam is the son of offensive line coach Barney Cotton and brother to current Huskers Ben and Jake Cotton.

    Sam is like his brother, but it seems that Nebraska wants more tight ends like Kyler Reed who provide a great mismatch against linebackers and safeties.  I just question why Sam received a scholarship over other Nebraska in-state recruits when this is a guy who would clearly gray-shirt, but instead the Huskers lost out on one of the top in-state players in Mike Schoff or Drew Ott.

15. Corey Whitaker

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    Position: Offensive line

    Hometown: Murrieta, California

    Corey Whitaker is a 3-star (Rivals) offensive lineman from California.  Like the last two recruits, Corey is not highly ranked and for most of the season was not highly recruited.  Unlike the other two, Corey began picking up interest from top schools like Florida and Oregon.

    This is another player that the coaches hope to prove the recruiting services wrong with.  The interest he was received from other top schools should suggest that he could become a productive player for Nebraska.

14. Aaron Curry

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    Position: Defensive Tackle

    Hometown: Keller, Texas

    Aaron is a 3-star (Rivals) from Texas, which shows that Nebraska's move to the Big Ten did not completely kill off the Texas pipeline.  Curry is a recruit that new defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski wanted once he switched from Iowa.  Not only did the Huskers steal their border rival's defensive line coach but they also stole one of their targeted recruits.

    Coach Kaz obviously knows what he is doing, as he produced several great lineman at Iowa, and he wanted Curry to come to Nebraska.  Unfortunately I do not see him making an impact early as the Huskers are stocked at the defensive line position.

13. Avery Moss

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    Position: Defensive End

    Hometown: Tempe, Arizona

    Avery Moss is a 3-star (Rivals) defensive end from Tempe, Arizona.  Moss is also the cousin of his new teammate Todd Peat Jr,. who will be a redshirt freshman defensive lineman this next season.  Moss is also the cousin of Andrus Peat, who the Huskers unfortunately missed out on.

    Moss, as a defensive end, is pretty fast and a good tackler, but he seems to do better against the run than the pass.  Whether that is a product of the Arizona high school system I do not know.  If he can add some speed, he can become a more dangerous pass rusher. 

    He could definitely step up this season and might get some playing time with the sudden departure of backup defensive end Josh Williams.

12. Vincent Valentine

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    Position: Defensive Tackle

    Hometown: Edwardsville, Illiniois

    Vincent Valentine is a 3-star (Rivals) defensive tackle from Illinois, which figures to be an important state for the Huskers in the Big Ten.  Valentine's recruitment with Nebraska was off and on, but after the Huskers started to target him again, he announced on signing day that he wants to play for Nebraska.

    Valentine is a big defensive tackle who fits in a little more with the Big Ten style of play.  He seems to be able to disrupt the opposing offensive line with his size and is surprisingly quick for his size.  Obviously there is always room for improvement, but he seems like he could be the next great defensive tackle for the Huskers.

11. Imani Cross

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    Position: Running Back

    Hometown: Gainesville, Georgia

    Imani Cross is a 3-star (Rivals) running back from Georgia.  Cross is also one of four Husker recruits who are ranked as a 4-star recruit by ESPN.  Cross is ranked as one of the top running backs across the major recruiting services.

    Cross reminds me of current Husker running back Rex Burkhead.  He is big but fast.  He is one of the backs who can be used for downhill running and to bulldoze over the defense.  Coming in, he is probably fourth on the depth chart with Braylon Heard moving to cornerback.  That puts him behind senior Burkhead and sophomores Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green.  He will have to fight for playing time, but he is a great player for the Huskers.

10. Thomas Brown

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    Position: Linebacker

    Hometown: Gardena, California

    Thomas Brown is a 3-star (Rivals) linebacker from California.  Brown ranks as one of the better inside linebackers in the country, according to Rivals.

    Brown is the lowest ranked of all of the Huskers' linebacker recruits, and he might be a little small for an inside linebacker, but there are two things to like about this kid.  First is his speed; he played running back in high school and that obviously helped him with penetrating the offense and making plays.  Second, he commands leadership on the field, which something you want from players but especially linebackers who the coaches usually rely on for play-calling.

9. Alonzo Moore

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    Position: Athlete

    Hometown: Winnfield, Louisiana

    Alonzo Moore is a 4-star athlete (Rivals) from Louisiana and is one of the top recruits from the state.  Moore mostly played on the offensive side of the ball during his career, but he also played defense and could become a playmaker on that side of the ball.

    Unfortunately for anyone hoping that Moore could use his talents to help the offense, that isn't happening.  At least that's what Bo Pelini is currently saying.  Moore is fast and has the body type of a receiver that can help him match up against the opposing receivers. 

    Moore might also be able to field kicks for Nebraska.  On kickoff returns, Nebraska has a threat with Ameer Abdullah, but teams stopped kicking to him.  With Moore and Abdullah both back there, Nebraska can get great field position on kickoff returns.

8. Jared Afalava

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    Position: Linebacker

    Hometown: South Jordan, Utah

    Jared Afalava is a 3-star linebacker according to Rivals but ranks as a 4-star according to ESPN.  Afalava is one of four linebacker recruits for the Huskers.  While he ranks as No. 8 on this list, he ranks first in terms of coolest last names amongst the recruits, in my opinion.

    Afalava has a lot of ferocity, which the coaches would be wise to put to use immediately.  The current linebackers for Nebraska have a tendency to try to stay in position rather than make plays.  However, with ferocity comes a price of being out of position on passes.  Only Lavonte David seemed to be able to pull off keeping his assignment and making big plays.  Hopefully Afalava can do the same.

7. Paul Thuston

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    Position: Offensive Line

    Hometown: Arvada, Colorado

    Thurston is ranked on both Rivals and ESPN as a 4-star offensive lineman.  He is one of only three Nebraska recruits to be ranked as a 4-star by both.

    Thurston wants to become a part of the Nebraska tradition of the pipeline, which is why he decided to come to Nebraska.  Thurston plays left tackle, a position that Nebraska needs right now, especially since starter Yoshi Hardrick has graduated.  Whether Thurston can actually beat out the others in the depth chart remains to be seen, but he will have a shot.

6. Greg McMullen

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    Position: Defensive End

    Hometown: Akron, Ohio

    Greg McMullen from Ohio is a 4-star defensive end (Rivals), and is one of the best recruits to come out of the state of Ohio.  It is good that Nebraska landed him, as it shows that the Huskers can go into Ohio and pull out recruits.

    McMullen can play end and also move to the inside to play defensive tackle.  He is explosive off the line, good against the run and a good pass rusher who can follow the QB as he scrambles.  McMullen comes into a situation in which the starters for d-end are a senior and junior, so he might be able to get into a backup spot and become the starter in 2013.

5. Tommy Armstrong

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    Position: Quarterback

    Hometown: Cibolo, Texas

    Tommy Armstrong is a 3-star (Rivals), but it is worth noting that he is the No. 5 overall quarterback according to  Tommy is one of two players from the state of Texas in the 2012 class.

    Here is what Bo Pelini said about Tommy Armstrong, according to the Omaha World-Herald:

    Really excited about the type of leader he is, the type of command he has in the huddle, the type of person that we’re getting…We thought he was good obviously when we offered him, but we grew to like him even more.” 

    This seems to be the QB that Pelini and Nebraska's offensive coordinator want.  He is a great dual-threat QB who can throw the ball very well.  My bet is that Armstrong will be the QB of the future for the Huskers.

4. Jordan Westerkamp

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    Position: Wide Receiver

    Hometown: Lombard, Illinois

    Jordan Westerkamp is a 4-star (Rivals) receiver who comes in as one of the most decorated receivers to come to Nebraska in a long time.  Like Valentine, Westerkamp is from Illinois, which figures to be a state where Nebraska will continue to recruit well. Westerkamp was committed to Nebraska for a long time, but in December Notre Dame offered and after a month of debating Westerkamp stuck with the Huskers.

    Westerkamp is a great receiver who could start from day one and would complement the Huskers' other receivers.  With him and Kenny Bell on the field, Nebraska has two true deep threats.  Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner are developing into good receivers as well.  With Westerkamp, Nebraska's receiving corps is greatly improved and could be one of the best in the Big Ten.

3. Zaire Anderson

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    Position: JUCO Linebacker

    Hometown: Riverside, California

    Anderson is a 4-star (Rivals) JUCO linebacker from California.  Nebraska hopes to continue its recent strong of success with JUCO players being immediate impact players.

    Anderson hopes to put in the same type of performance and make as much of an impact as Lavonte David did.  Anderson has big shoes to fill and will most likely see immediate playing time as a starter.  Anderson has the skills necessary for a linebacker, and hopefully he can make as big as an impact as David did for the past two years.

2. Michael Rose

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    Position: Linebacker

    Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

    Michael Rose is a 4-star on both Rivals and ESPN.  He is also the highest-ranked player for Nebraska according to ESPN and the only member of the ESPNU 150 class that committed to the Huskers.  Rose has been committed to Nebraska for over a year and has been its most fervent commit by calling and texting other recruits to convince them to come to Nebraska.

    Rose has possibly the best chance to start as a freshman of any of the recruits.  As Bo Pelini puts it in the Omaha World Herald, "At the end of the day, we want to be able to win a national championship. We want to be able to beat anybody. Michael Rose, he can play for anybody". 

    As an inside linebacker, Rose could step in and take the spot currently occupied by Will Compton if Compton moves, or Rose could move to the outside and take the spot held by Sean Fisher and Alonzo Whaley.

1. Mohammed Seisay

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    Position: JUCO Cornerback

    Hometown: Thatcher, Arizona

    Mohammed Seisay is a 4-star (Rivals) JUCO cornerback.  Of all the positions that Nebraska needed, it needed linebackers and cornerbacks.  It landed both and got a home run with Seisay.  Seisay was down to Nebraska and Arkansas, and Husker fans were probably flashing back to Tevin Mitchel, who left after committing to the Huskers to go to Arkansas.  But Siesay stayed with the Huskers and looks to make the biggest impact.

    Seisay provides a shutdown cornerback for the Huskers, which Nebraska needs for Bo Pelini's rather complex system.  Alfonzo Dennard was the only corner who provided shutdown for the Huskers last year but was injured for most of the season.  Seisay is a guy who can immediately step in and take over Dennard's spot and is arguably Nebraska's top recruit.