This week, Nebraska added verbal commitments from two high-school football recruits. Jesse Coffey, an offensive lineman from Guyman Texas, and Emerson Evans, a defensive end from Houston, both verbally pledged to be a part of NU's 2009 recruiting class. With these two pledges coming on the heals of quarterback recruit Cody Green’s commitment, it appears that NU has some recruiting momentum going. There are many reasons to like these two prospects. Some obvious physiological, geographic and personnel trends are also starting to appear in NU's recruiting efforts.
Let's start with this basic evaluation - Coffey is a big kid. He's 6'7'' and about 275 pounds as a 17-year old. Given a little continued growth and the right strength and conditioning program, he can develop in to a mountainous player. I also like that he's a very smart kid. He shouldn't have a problem adjusting to a college setting or to learning an offense. He was wanted by several other programs, including some in the Big 12. That's always nice to see. Rivals.com rates him among the top 100 players in the state of Texas.
Evans doesn't exactly jump off of the page at you when you see his measurables. He's 6'1'' and 250 pounds, which is a bit short for a defensive end. The kid had 16 sacks while playing in the largest classification of Texas high school football (5A). So you can't argue with the production. Evans had offers from Utah and Ole Miss before picking NU. Other schools were also interested.
Interestingly, Evans has nearly identical stature to Cole Pensick and Thaddeus Randle, two recruits slated to play defensive tackle. It's pretty clear Evans follows that same prototype. Just maybe they may want him as a defensive tackle. Or, going the other way, if he is closer to 240 pounds, he could be an outside linebacker prospect. Apparently he is an explosive athlete, but sometimes it is tough for players to transition from putting their hand on the ground to being in a stand up athletic position.
Positions of Need
Another important factor to keep in mind - these are both positions of need. You always want and need to be signing offensive linemen. A bad class of linemen or even a little attrition at the position can really hurt. Husker fans have learned that the hard way. Considering that 2008 recruit David Grant is looking less and less likely to qualify this season, the need becomes even more serious.
And, there is no question that NU is in the market for defensive ends. So, it is good to see them get one "on the hook" with Evens. That's assuming he stays at that position. If he makes a change to defensive tackle, then that position may be filling up for NU's 2009 recruiting class. Though, Pensick may play offense and NU could try to keep a slot open for another highly-rated defensive line prospect.
The Lone Star Source
There is a pretty obvious geographic trend emerging for NU's recruiting this year. The Huskers are going for it in the state of Texas. Of the eight verbal commitments that NU has to date, five are from Texas. No doubt the schools located there and other conference foes (Missouri, Kansas) have feasted on the quality and quantity of players located in Texas. And, it is good to see NU doing the same.
It's also becoming pretty clear who Coach Pelini's 'go to' recruiters are. Tim Beck has the relationships in Texas and a solid track record as a recruiter. He helped Kansas land talent, and now he's doing the same at NU. And, Mike Ekeler's name is connected to seemingly every commitment the Huskers pick up. His energy and rappor with players is paying off.
Fans should be pleased to see NU picking up their recruiting momentum now, with three commitments in pretty quick succession. If the Huskers have one or two more prospects on board before the season starts, they would be on pace for a good class. The next big opportunity to woo recruits comes with five straight home games to open the season.