Nebraska football fans have been following with interest NU’s pursuit of J.W. Ketchum III, a dual-threat quarterback prospect from Lamar, Texas. Ketchum is a 3-star prospect, according to 247Sports, although with a composite rating of 89, he’s right on the cusp of being a 4-star prospect.
Ketchum is currently thought to be most likely to stay home and sign with Texas. So why should Nebraska fans hold out hope of seeing Ketchum in scarlet and cream?
Nebraska will let him compete as a quarterback
This might be the biggest reason Nebraska is still in on Ketchum. A Texas native, most believe the Longhorns would be Ketchum’s first choice. However, according to Horns247 (subscription required), he might not be in the Longhorns’ plans at quarterback.
“Well, I see myself playing quarterback in college and the UT coaches weren’t really talking much about it,” he told Horns247. “The new coaching staff was basically talking about how they were planning on making the program better. Making them more successful basically. Making them better overall.”
If Ketchum is set on playing quarterback, and if front-runner Texas is iffy on Ketchum as a signal-caller, that boosts Nebraska’s chances to get his signature. (OK, in fairness, it also boosts the chances of the other seven schools, including Alabama and LSU, who are interested in Ketchum, per 247Sports. But still, a boost is a boost).
There’s room on Nebraska’s depth chart
If Nebraska lands Ketchum, he will be in the 2015 class. Assuming a redshirt year, here’s what the quarterback depth chart will look like for Ketchum in 2016:
- Tommy Armstrong—Senior
- Johnny Stanton—Junior
- Zack Darlington—Sophomore (assuming redshirt)
- AJ Bush—Sophomore (assuming redshirt)
- Kevin Dillman—Freshman (assuming redshirt)
I’ve italicized Bush because—protestations to the contrary, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star—I don’t think it’s likely he stays at quarterback. Assuming Armstrong and Stanton will be the contenders for playing time in 2016 and 2017, that leaves Darlington and Dillman as Ketchum’s competition at quarterback.
While Darlington does look like the complete package, whether he will be able to play at all due to concussion concerns is still an open question. If that’s the case—and Ketchum has to be taking that into consideration in deciding his college home—then it would be a straight-up fight between him and Dillman.
Someone of Ketchum’s skill and confidence level would have to like his chances in that scenario.
So, will Ketchum sign with Nebraska?
Nebraska’s biggest selling point to recruits is, well, Nebraska. Getting kids to Lincoln to see the campus, see the facilities and see the game-day experience in Memorial Stadium is a huge factor in convincing those kids to sign. Without the benefit of beaches or mountains, Nebraska has to use the passion of the fanbase along with state-of-the-art facilities to get top-flight recruits to Lincoln.
Ketchum hasn’t come to Lincoln to see what Nebraska has to offer. If he does, Nebraska’s chances to land Ketchum improve dramatically.
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