National Signing Day 2011: Nebraska Football Completes Recruiting Class in Style
During the week following up to national signing day, a big question swirling around was "Can Bo Pelini close this class strongly?"
A resounding "YES" was heard around Husker Nation this morning when coveted defensive tackle Todd Peat Jr. of Tempe, Arizona chose Nebraska over Arizona State and Oregon State.
Lincoln Southeast tight end David Sutton rounded out a class of 20 just a few hours after Peat.
After gaining the commitment of running back Ameer Abdullah of Alabama, Peat, JUCO defensive end Joe Carter of California and linebacker Keeon Virgile of Florida were the three focus points of the Husker coaching staff. Carter announced his commitment just days ago.
While Virgile opted for North Carolina, Peat's decision to become a Husker was a huge victory. Peat detailed a dramatic event leading up to his commitment:
"I left Mountain Pointe [High School] thinking I'm going to go to ASU. I'm driving down the street and I pull up to the stoplight. I'm totally spacing out, not paying attention to anything. Something catches my eye, and it's the license plate of the car in front of me. It's a Nebraska license plate. I've never seen a Nebraska license plate in Arizona in my life. I'm just like, 'This is a sign, and I've got to go to Nebraska.' After a lot of praying about it, and asking God to send me a sign, that's what happened. I decided that's 100 percent where I need to be." [source: Rivals.com]
Who's the best recruit of the 2011 class?
Seldom do you see a player commit to a team for such a reason, but I'll buy it. God works in strange ways sometimes, right?
At 6'3", 300 pounds, Peat is immediately ready to compete in college football. On film, Peat showcases his ability to bust through a wall of offensive linemen, somewhat reminiscent of Ndamukong Suh.
At times he even uses Suh's trademark "twirl and chuck."
Outside of Peat, the Huskers already have an impressive haul. Ranked 15th in the nation by Rivals.com, Nebraska's class boasts 11 4-star players, seven 3-star players and two 2-star players.
Along with Peat, the headliners of this class are running back Aaron Green, quarterback Bubba Starling, offensive tackle Tyler Moore, and cornerback Charles Jackson. All five played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Green was arguably the biggest priority for the staff, and gaining his commitment was a huge victory over the likes of Texas and USC. Rivals.com tabs Green's elusiveness "as good as it gets." We'll take that.
Starling might be the most impressive physical specimen of the whole class, but being a two-sport star, he may opt for MLB if he is a high draft pick, which is very likely.
If Starling does go pro in baseball, quarterback/athlete Jamal Turner will be a phenomenal consolation prize. Turner is an athletic freak who can play a number of positions and thrives in competition. Simply put, the kid's a baller.
Tyler Moore was one of the class's first commitments, and his 6'6", 290-pound frame is NFL material. He may be the best of a very impressive offensive line class.
Charles Jackson was a surprising get out of Klein, Texas, where he starred at corner. His athleticism is outstanding and his physicality is reminiscent of Husker stud Alfonzo Dennard.
Jackson's teammate, linebacker David Santos, may be the steal of the class.
On film, Santos looks to have unbelievable instincts. His 6'0", 212-pound frame is similar to Blackshirt star Lavonte David, and his speed, toughness and motor (as well as those instincts) also compare to Nebraska's single-season tackles leader.
Santos' dive over an opposing fullback to stone the ball carrier in the backfield is likely his most talked-about highlight, but one that was arguably as impressive was his diagnosis and disruption of a screen pass before it had a chance to develop. His instincts were on full display during those few seconds.
Another possible sleeper is Ameer Abdullah, who Samuel McKewon of the Nebraska State Paper thinks might be better than Aaron Green.
Abdullah is a 5'9", 177-pound speedster who has good vision and agility. He also displays soft hands and great overall athleticism.
Nebraska's two most underrated prospects could be another pair of teammates, Joe Carter and safety Daimion Stafford of Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga, California.
Carter, a 6'5", 250-pound defensive end, already has the size to compete for a starting position.
Stafford, at 6'1", 210 pounds, also has the size to make an immediate impact. While first pursued by Nebraska, Stafford's senior highlights were impressive enough to get the attention of USC and Florida, who came calling later in the process.
Stafford not only stuck with Nebraska, he also helped the coaches persuade Carter to join him as a Husker.
Given Pelini's recent track record with JUCO prospects, especially defensively (see David, Lavonte and Gomes, Dejon), don't be surprised if both of these players occupy starting positions come September.
Another year in the Bo Pelini era, another strong defensive recruiting class, and Pelini has proven his ability to close with a bang.
Now, if he can just figure out what to do with the offense, he has a lot of valuable recruits to build an identity upon.
Is this Nebraska's best recruiting haul since 2005, the year of the House of Spears?
While there's no way to truly know yet, the current answer would be "YES."
A victorious, resounding "YES."
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