Nebraska Football Recruiting: Meet the Huskers' 2014 Class

Erin SorensenContributor IFebruary 5, 2014

Nebraska Football Recruiting: Meet the Huskers' 2014 Class

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    National signing day has finally arrived. With it, the Huskers have completed their 2014 recruiting class.

    With a total of 24 players, Nebraska added a large group of talented players. They come from all over, too. Head coach Bo Pelini was busy traveling during the final weeks of the recruiting season, as he secured commits from 13 different states.

    While the Huskers had hoped to sign 25 recruits, the group Pelini did get is diverse and fills many needs. According to 247Sports, the class finished 35th nationally. It also finished as the sixth best in the Big Ten, as reported by the Omaha World-Herald.

    What should Nebraska fans know about the newest class? Read on to meet the Huskers’ 2014 class.

     

    All rankings and star information via 247Sports.com.

Quarterback Zack Darlington

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    Zack Darlington
    Zack Darlington247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds. 

    Position/ Ranking: 3-star dual-threat QB

    High School: Apopka High School (Apopka, Fla.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 6/14/2013, Early Enrolled

     

    It’s hard to know what the future holds for Zack Darlington. After two concussions in a two-month span, he’ll have to be very careful before getting back on the field.  Regardless, head coach Bo Pelini promised to honor Darlington’s scholarships even if he never suits up, per the Omaha World-Herald.

     

Quarterback A.J. Bush

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    A.J. Bush
    A.J. Bush247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 211 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star dual-threat QB

    High School: Norcross High School (Alpharetta, Ga.)

    Other Finalists: Boston College

    Commit Date: 2/2/2014

     

    Quarterback A.J. Bush was a very late commit for Nebraska, but he's a valuable one, having completed 121 of 235 passes for 1,795 yards in his first season at Nocross High School. Additionally, he has 14 touchdowns as a senior, per the Gwinnett Daily Post. It's hard to tell if he'll remain a quarterback at Nebraska as of now, but regardless, he's a good addition to the 2014 class.

     

Running Back Mikale Wilbon

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    Mikale Wilbon in action
    Mikale Wilbon in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 195 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star RB

    High School: De La Salle Institute (Chicago, Ill.)

    Other Finalists: Vanderbilt

    Commit Date: 1/26/2014

     

    Running back Mikale Wilbon selected Nebraska over other top programs like Vanderbilt, Missouri, Arizona and Iowa. Beyond that, his offer list was pretty impressive.

    Wilbon told Beth Long of FoxSports NEXT (via the Southtown Star) that the Huskers appealed to him because they were interested even when he was committed to Vanderbilt.

    They loved me before when I committed to Vanderbilt. When I visited last weekend, I imagined myself there and I really fit in with the players. Plus, the coaches really get along with each other. Coach Pelini is a nice guy, but he is also going to push me to my potential.

    He's a good get for the Huskers, who have not heavily recruited in the Chicago area in the past.

     

Offensive Lineman Tanner Farmer

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    Tanner Farmer at his official visit to Nebraska
    Tanner Farmer at his official visit to Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’3.5”, 302 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OG

    High School: Highland Park (Highland, Ill.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 6/11/2013

     

    Offensive lineman Tanner Farmer has become even more valuable for Nebraska since committing. After a dominant week of practice at the Under Armour All-America Game, Farmer jumped from outside Rivals' Top 250 to No. 82 in the Rivals 100, per Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald. It seems Farmer could make an immediate impact on Nebraska. It's likely he'll get playing time sooner rather than later.

     

Offensive Lineman D.J. Foster

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    D.J. Foster in action
    D.J. Foster in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 300 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star OG

    High School: Lincoln Southeast (Lincoln, Neb.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 6/15/2013

     

    Offensive Lineman D.J. Foster was a three-year starter for Lincoln Southeast. Additionally, he was a two-time Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska player. Alongside Tanner Farmer, Foster is expected to make an immediate impact on the Huskers' offensive line.

    And a little fun fact on what "D.J." stands for from Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald

    Foster said his given name is actually Jerald Jarrell Foster. Every male in the family has the monogram of JJF. Older brother and current Husker tight end Trey Foster is actually Jesse James Foster III.

    So before he was born, and any name yet decided, family started referring to him as Double-J … thus D.J.

     

Athlete Luke Gifford

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    Luke Gifford
    Luke Gifford247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star ATH

    High School: Lincoln Southeast (Lincoln, Neb.)

    Other Finalists: Iowa State

    Commit Date: 3/11/2013

     

    Luke Gifford was the first commit of Nebraska's 2014 class. It likely kept him from getting a few more offers, but he was set on the Huskers from the beginning.

    Gifford is currently listed as an athlete, but he will likely play safety for Nebraska. He played quarterback for Lincoln Southeast but his size provides a lot to be excited about at safety. It seems likely he will step in at corner and nickel to start.

     

Defensive End Sedrick King

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    Sedrick King in action
    Sedrick King in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3.5", 250 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star DE

    High School: Plant City (Plant City, Fla.)

    Other Finalists: Central Florida

    Commit Date: 1/27/2014

     

    Sedrick King's verbal commitment came as a surprise to many. In fact, not many knew the defensive end visited Lincoln until his commitment was announced.

    King will add some depth at defensive end, a position Nebraska was left scrambling to add to after the departure of Avery Moss. The Plant City native was initially a Central Florida commit before flipping his decision to Nebraska.

     

Defensive Back Josh Kalu

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    Josh Kalu
    Josh Kalu247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 171 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star S

    High School: Alief Taylor (Houston, Texas)

    Other Finalists: Colorado

    Commit Date: 10/14/2013

     

    Josh Kalu will likely not see playing time immediately at safety for Nebraska. To start, the Texas native needs to put on a bit more weight. However, he's shown in his highlights (via Hudl) that he's quick and has good hands.

    He adds good depth to the safety position and could see time on the field in a year or two.

     

Defensive Back Chris Jones

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    Chris Jones
    Chris Jones247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 175 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star CB

    High School: Sandalwood (Jacksonville, Fla.)

    Other Finalists: Purdue

    Commit Date: 1/20/2014

     

    Chris Jones was originally committed to Purdue after visiting in December. However, the safety was quick to change his mind after a trip to Nebraska. He also held offers from Indiana, South Florida, FIU and more.

    It won't be easy to get time on the field in his first year, but Jones will add depth. He's a physical player that also returned punts and took snaps at wide receiver for Sandalwood. That gives good insight into his athleticism, proving he could work his way on to the field quicker than other safety recruits.

     

Running Back Larenzo Stewart

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    Larenzo Stewart in action
    Larenzo Stewart in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5’6”, 170 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star APB

    High School: Klein Oak High School (Spring, Texas)

    Other Finalists: Baylor

    Commit Date: 7/5/2013

     

    Larenzo Stewart has had a lot of interest from Texas schools during the recruiting process. From Baylor to Houston, programs from Stewart's home state wanted to keep him close. The running back didn't seem to share the same idea, as he made one visit last July. That was a trip to Nebraska.

    Stewart is expected to redshirt in 2014, allowing him plenty of time to learn from those ahead of him on the roster. He's got speed on his side, which will be valuable to Nebraska in the future.

     

Offensive Lineman Mick Stoltenberg

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    Mick Stoltenberg in action
    Mick Stoltenberg in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 250 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star OT

    High School: Gretna High School (Gretna, Neb.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 6/15/2013

     

    Mick Stoltenberg missed all but the first two weeks of his senior season due to an ankle injury. It didn't stop interest from Iowa, Iowa State and other programs. However, he settled on Nebraska last summer and stuck with that decision.

    He's a big man that could be used well on Nebraska's offensive line. Despite his injury, he's now active. It'll be interesting to see how he develops and if the offensive line is truly where the Huskers place him.

     

Cornerback Trai Mosley

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    Trai Mosley in action
    Trai Mosley in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 171 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star CB

    High School: Hendrickson (Pflugerville, Texas)

    Other Finalists: Baylor, Oklahoma

    Commit Date: 6/14/2013

     

    Trai Mosley is a player to be excited about. To start, he's ranked among the nation's top 100 cornerbacks according to 247Sports.

    Beyond that, Brandon Vogel of HailVarsity.com uncovered some interesting information on Mosley. Ryan Broyles, a former two-time All-American wide receiver for Oklahoma, had some great things to say about the cornerback on Football Brainiacs:

    Special athlete all around. He is a very elusive player in the return game. His athleticism is top notch. He has smooth hips and runs well. I think he could contribute right when he walks on campus. He plays with a lot of confidence and, based on how he plays, he has every right to. He’s not afraid to make physical tackles in the flat and in the run game in general. His bump and run coverage technique can be improved but he shows he can stick to a man down the field and high point balls resulting in deflections or interceptions. Again, Trai is a special athlete and if he was a little taller I would have given him an even higher grade because he appears to have league level athleticism and fluidity.

     

Wide Receiver Monte Harrison

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    Monte Harrison
    Monte Harrison247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-star WR

    High School: Lee’s Summit West (Lee's Summit, Mo.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 7/4/2013

     

    Wide receiver Monte Harrison may have committed to Nebraska, but that doesn't guarantee he'll ever be a Husker. The Lee's Summit native has to make a decision between playing professional baseball or playing both football and baseball for Nebraska. Much like former signee Bubba Starling, Nebraska will now have to wait until this summer to see what Harrison decides.

    He will be drafted to play professional baseball, so it could make for an interesting several months leading up to the 2014 season. If he chooses to leave, the Huskers will be set at wide receiver with other commits. If he stays, he'll definitely add a level of athleticism to the position which Nebraska could use.

     

Kicker Drew Brown

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    Drew Brown at his official visit to Nebraska
    Drew Brown at his official visit to Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 160 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star K

    High School: Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 6/6/2013

     

    Does Drew Brown's name seem familiar? It definitely might. He's the younger brother of former Nebraska Husker and All-Pro kicker Kris Brown.

    The Texas native had plenty of interest. Programs like LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and more were all interested at one point. However, Brown committed in June 2013, making it a foregone conclusion, along with his family ties, that he'd be a Husker.

    With Nebraska being known as "Kicker U," Brown will fit in just fine.

     

Wide Receiver Glenn Irons

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    Glenn Irons
    Glenn Irons247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5’10”, 170 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 2-star WR

    High School: Edna Karr High School (New Orleans, La.)

    Other Finalists: Northwestern State

    Commit Date: 1/25/2014

     

    Wide receiver Glenn Irons was definitely under the radar when he committed to Nebraska. Before committing, he told The Times-Picayune that he was between the Huskers and Northwestern State. That's quite the difference between the two.

    It's not clear what type of impact Irons will have, as he's one of many wide receivers in the 2014 class. However, Monte Harrison may choose a professional baseball career over playing for Nebraska, which would make Irons much more valuable. Irons is known to be fast, which will help the Huskers down the road.

     

Defensive End Peyton Newell

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    Peyton Newell selected Nebraska
    Peyton Newell selected Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 290 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star DE

    High School: Hiawatha Sr (Hiawatha, Kan.)

    Other Finalists: Kansas State

    Commit Date: 8/30/2013

     

    Defensive end Peyton Newell was in high demand. In fact, he had 34 total suitors, including Wisconsin, UCLA, Clemson, South Carolina, Penn State, Oklahoma and Michigan State.

    It's no surprise, either. He was a four-year starter for Hiawatha, setting career highs in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. Additionally, he blocked a total of 12 kicks in his high school career.

    With Nebraska needing help at defensive end, Newell will make an immediate impact for the Huskers.

     

Defensive End Joe Keels

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    Joe Keels in action
    Joe Keels in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 275 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star DE

    High School: Highland Community College (Highland, Kan.)

    Other Finalists: Wisconsin

    Commit Date: 12/10/2013, Early Enrollee

     

    Joe Keels was originally committed to Wisconsin. Not long after making that decision, he flipped to Nebraska. It was a big commit for the Huskers, too.

    The defensive end ranks among the best junior college prospects in the class if 2014, per HailVarsity.com. He enrolled early at Nebraska and is already on campus.

    Since he's already enrolled, Keels will make a strong case to see playing time in the 2014 season. He's also a great addition in the absence of Avery Moss.

     

Defensive Back Byerson Cockrell

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    Byerson Cockrell at this official visit to Nebraska
    Byerson Cockrell at this official visit to Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star S

    High School: East Mississippi Community College (Scooba, Miss.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 12/6/2013, Early Enrolled

     

    Byerson Cockrell is one of former Nebraska coach Terry Joseph's last commitments for the program. While the coach headed to Texas A&M, Cockrell remained committed to the Huskers and even enrolled in January.

    He fits Nebraska's needs well, as the Huskers look to replace both Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste. It'll be a competitive spring to see who fills those shoes, but Cockrell will have a shot. It helps that he will have all spring to prepare.

     

Tight End Freedom Akinmoladun

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    Freedom Akinmoladun
    Freedom Akinmoladun247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 238 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star TE

    High School: Grandview High School (Grandview, Mo.)

    Other Finalists: None

    Commit Date: 7/4/2013

     

    Being from the Kansas City area, Freedom Akinmoladun has a lot of interest from the surrounding programs. Kansas State, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Northern Illinois all tried to recruit the tight end. However, Akinmoladun was pretty set on Nebraska since last summer.

    Akinmoladun is a good runner and blocker, so he'll fit nicely with the other Husker tight ends. He'll have some competition for playing time but could easily see some snaps early in his career.

     

Wide Receiver Demornay Pierson-El

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    Demornay Pierson-El in action
    Demornay Pierson-El in action247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 171 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star WR/ATH

    High School: West Potomac (Alexandria, Va.)

    Other Finalists: North Carolina

    Commit Date: 6/15/2013

     

    Demornay Pierson-El played just a little bit of everything for West Potomac. He's listed as an athlete by 247Sports, which is good for Nebraska. Having experience at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and safety, he provides a lot of options for the Huskers.

    He'll likely see the field early on in his career on special teams. That seems to be the best place for him to use his athleticism right off the bat.

     

Wide Receiver Jariah Tolbert

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    Jariah Tolber
    Jariah Tolber247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star WR

    High School: Edna Karr High School (New Orleans, La.)

    Other Finalists: Utah

    Commit Date: 1/9/2014

     

    Wide receiver Jariah Tolbert had offers from Kent State, Tulane, Utah and Northern Colorado. However, once the Huskers made him an offer, his decision was easy.

    The 2014 receiver class is deep for Nebraska, but Tolbert is big. He looks to replace Quincy Enunwa in size. Plus, with Monte Harrison not guaranteed to ever play for Nebraska, Tolbert will have opportunities to step up early in his career.

     

Offensive Tackle Nick Gates

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    Nick Gates at this official visit to Nebraska
    Nick Gates at this official visit to Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 270 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OT

    High School: Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)

    Other Finalists: Texas A&M, Oregon

    Commit Date: 1/24/2014

     

    Nick Gates was a target of Nebraska's for a long time before committing. After he visited for Big Red Weekend last June, the Huskers heavily recruiting Gates. He finally committed on Jan. 24 after visiting Texas A&M, Oregon and Arizona.

    Gates is quick for an offensive lineman, which will prove valuable to Nebraska. With the focus on recruiting plenty of offensive linemen, Gates may redshirt. If he does or doesn't, he should grow nicely as a player at Nebraska.

     

Linebacker Jaevon Walton

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    Jaevon Walton (left) at his official visit to Nebraska
    Jaevon Walton (left) at his official visit to Nebraska247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 230 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star LB

    High School: Edna Karr (New Orleans, La.)

    Other Finalists: LSU

    Commit Date: 11/16/2013

     

    Jaevon Walton was originally a Louisiana-Lafayette commit when he visited Nebraska. However, the visit went well and it wasn't long before he switched his commitment to the Huskers.

    He's the only linebacker in the 2014 class and he'll likely redshirt his first season. He'll learn from players like Courtney Love and Marcus Newby, which is a benefit as he'll gain experience before becoming the leader of the next group of linebackers in the future.

     

National Signing Day Heat Map

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    The 2014 recruiting class is stacked with elite talent from across the country. Find out where the top 200 recruits are headed all season long with Bleacher Report's interactive recruiting map.

Defensive End/Tight End DeAndre Willis

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    DeAndre Willis
    DeAndre Willis247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 262 pounds

    Position/Ranking: 3-star DE/TE

    High School: Clay Central (Lineville, Ala.)

    Other Finalists: Ole Miss

    Commit Date: 2/2/2014

     

    DeAndre Willis flew mostly under the radar during recruiting season. Despite only being a 3-star, his offer list told a different story. He had offers from Ole Miss, Clemson and Vanderbilt, with some interest from Alabama, LSU and Auburn.

    Nebraska was in need of some extra help on the defensive line in the 2014 class and Willis filled that need. He seems to be undervalued, which makes him a big signee for the Huskers. While he was brought in to add depth up front, Willis could find himself on offense as a tight end.

    His highlights are definitely worth watching.

     

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