For Nebraska football recruiting, the rubber hits the road on February 6, national signing day. As Bo Pelini and his staff work toward finalizing the class of 2013, there are a number of goals in mind. But which one should be Pelini’s top priority?
With Baker Steinkuhler and Cameron Meredith (a defensive end pressed into service at tackle) graduating, Nebraska is left with no starting experience and a whole bunch of young and unproven talent.
However, at least the cupboard is not completely bare.
Chase Rome—who briefly left the team in 2012—is Nebraska’s most experienced defensive tackle. Thaddeus Randle will attempt to return from injury to claim playing time, and youngsters Aaron Curry, Kevin Williams and Vincent Valentine will be in the mix as well. Jay Guy and Tobi Okuyemi, 2013 juniors who have never quite fulfilled their promise, are also on the roster and could be late bloomers who find their niche and force their way onto the field.
Nebraska was far from settled at cornerback last year, with a number of players rotating through starting positions without really seizing the job. Andrew Green was the closest to consistent at the position, beginning the year as a starter, losing the job, then winning it back by the end of the year.
And it doesn’t appear that there’s much cavalry that is riding to the rescue. With the de-commitment of defensive back Marcus McWilson, a 3-star prospect according to ESPN’s RecruitingNation.com, Nebraska is left with no legitimate cornerback targets on its board.
However, Nebraska does have Auburn transfer Jonathan Rose, who looks likely to win one of the starting cornerback positions. And Nebraska has a number of other candidates who at least have experience at corner (Corey Cooper, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Ciante Evans, among others) to give Pelini some options.
So Nebraska’s Top Recruiting Priority Is?
So, what is Nebraska's top priority for National Signing Day?
Offensive tackle. Here’s why.
Brent Qvale. Jeremiah Sirles. Andrew Rodriguez.
In terms of returning offensive tackles with in-game experience, as Mr. Tony would say, that’s it, that’s the list. While the Nebraska roster is lousy with guards, there are precious few players ready to step in and play tackle.
Nebraska has taken some steps to address its depth at tackle, however. Junior college transfer Matt Finnin, the sixth-rated junior college offensive tackle according to 247Sports.com, has committed to Nebraska. Given his experience and the lack of depth at the position, Finnin looks to contribute right away.
Nebraska has also signed David Knevel, the 32nd-rated offensive tackle according to 247Sports.com. However, Knevel will be more of a project and does not look to see the field much in 2013.
So even with Finnin and Knevel in the fold, Nebraska’s depth at tackle is questionable. And Nebraska is in on two offensive tackle recruits (information on both from 247Sports.com). Dwayne Johnson is a 3-star prospect and the 77th-rated offensive tackle, and Chongo Kondolo is a 3-star prospect and the 17th-rated junior college offensive tackle. Landing both would be a tremendous boon to Nebraska’s offensive tackle depth, with Kondolo having the prospect of playing time right away.
Also, signing two players Nebraska had been recruiting for some time would help reverse some of the negative momentum from the de-commitments from McWilson, wide receiver Dominic Walker and offensive lineman Dan Samuelson.
So, sure, there’s a number of priorities for Nebraska between now and Signing Day. But if you’re looking to pick one, look to defensive tackle.
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