Huskers winning the recruiting game

By Kyle Simonsen  |   Tuesday, December 19, 2006  |  Comments( 6 )

Nebraska Cornhuskers
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While Bill Callahan's kids are making the most of the month of practice between their lackluster effort in the Big XII championship game and their upcoming bowl bout with the Auburn Tigers, his coaches are camped out in living rooms from Sonoma to Amarillo, taking teas and talking with concerned parents about the prospects for their progeny. And if the results are any indication, there's many a Nebraska assistant with the gift for gab.

Fans can only hope that the practices are half as efficient, because if so, the Cotton Bowl is going to be a lot of fun.

Their last game may have been a loss, but there has been a series of victories for the Huskers on the recruiting trail in the weeks since. Many were worried when recruiting guru John Blake bolted for Butch Davis' side in North Carolina, but it's becoming apparent that there is more than one member of the Nebraska coaching staff good at persuading possible recruits.

Since replacing Blake with former Alabama assistant Buddy Wyatt last week, the Blackshirts have doubled their commitments on the defensive line, a crucial move considering that the squad loses four senior starters following the fracas in Dallas on Jan. 1.

The biggest addition was Joseph Townsend, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior-college transfer at defensive tackle who has a high probability of starting next season alongside current contributor Ndamukong Suh. William Yancy, a high school teammate of current commit Eric Hagg, could contribute some next year at rush end, but will likely redshirt along with the third acquisition, New Orleans native Terrence Moore.

Nebraska also gained much-needed linebacker depth, adding Austin Stafford, a high school kid from Hayward, Calif. Former Husker recruit Wallace Franklin, who has been playing wide receiver in the junior college ranks, also joined the current class.

In total, Nebraska has added seven commitments this month alone, bumping its total to 24. recruiting experts currently have Nebraska's 2007 class ranked as the nation's ninth best, and Scout has the Huskers 10th.

As other teams solidify their classes, however, the Huskers can be expected to slide slightly. The class can't get much fuller, but look for Callahan and Co. to add a few more before signing day in February.

The most likely candidates to finish up this recruiting season are expected to announce their intentions shortly. One obvious area of concern in the current class is on the offensive line, where NU has yet to get a single recruit, heresy for a team whose storied tradition includes eight Outland Trophy winners and four Lombardi recipients.

Jaivorio Burkes, a highly touted lineman from Arizona, is currently deciding between Nebraska and Oklahoma. If recent history is any indicator, Burkes is probable to be wearing scarlet and cream instead of Sooner crimson come next year. It doesn't hurt that Bill Busch and Dennis Wagner, the Husker staff's most prolific recruiters, have been the young man's contacts with the university.

Hopes are also high of picking up junior college talent Larry Asante to bolster a suspect safety tandem. If Asante chooses Nebraska over Clemson (he's expected to announce this week), there's a good chance he will fill the role vacated by senior Andrew Shanle. A third recruit is a bit more uncertain, but signs point to perhaps Moses Jenkins or Prince Amukamara, two athletes who would both be likely to join Asante in the defensive backfield.

Recruiting has become a full-time operation in Lincoln, and although efforts are likely to subside a bit following the signing period, the coaches already have an eye toward the 2008 class, which already has two offensive tackles and a running back -- all of whom have yet to play their senior season of high school ball.
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