With the best of bowl games ramping up and Ohio State making the case that maybe, just maybe, they should’ve been included in this year’s College Football Playoff, Nebraska fans are turning their attention to UCF’s matchup in the Peach Bowl. However, thanks to Scott Frost, eyes don’t dare dart too far away from the Big Red’s transitional recruiting scene.
With the first early signing period ever to grace Division I completed, it’s time to find the best fits out of those still weighing their options. With that in mind, here are five recruits who could easily bring a special brand of rampage to the Huskers’ roster.
In no particular order:
1.) RB Ta’Zhawn Henry – When I was gifted Henry’s tape, I was told that I was in for a treat and how right they were! His breakaway speed, elusiveness and downright freakish athleticism (See: leaping over two defenders with a single bound) would be an amazing compliment to a Nebraska offense that will now be predicated on players who are fleet of foot.
Something else that sticks out about Henry is that he’s coveted by both Texas Tech and Oregon State. The Beavers have a history of using smaller backs to do damage, but if there’s any indication that Henry’s seen as someone who can thrive in an offensive system powered by jet fuel, it’s that Red Raider offer.
Tech does have a commitment from running back Devin Brumfield. However, he didn’t sign during his first opportunity, opting instead to wait until February.
Meanwhile, Nebraska wrapped up one back in JUCO transfer Greg Bell, but the addition of Henry would give the Huskers something different. Bell has his own talents, but just like getting Adrian Martinez in the fold should remind Nebraska fans of McKenzie Milton’s role in UCF’s offense, the Houston native could easily serve as Adrian Killins 2.0.
2.) OG Jarrett Bell – The Big Red looks to likely only take one more offensive lineman in this class, so there’s obviously a need to make it a good one. At one point committed to Alabama before leaving Nick Saban’s watchful gaze due to location, Bell already has a visit to Lincoln scheduled for January 12. It looks like he may be on the fast track to being Nebraska’s next (and probably final) offensive lineman in this class.
A two-way player for Norco High School, Bell’s work ethic has been praised by his coaches which no doubt gets him brownie points with a guy who clearly favors that trait in Frost. He’s played at both tackle and guard on the offensive line and has very quick footwork. That said, he’d probably be due for a redshirt year considering the amount of talent in front of him.
3.) DE Dorian Gerald – If you were a fan of former Blackshirt Carlos Polk’s hard hits and enthusiasm, you’ll be a major fan of Gerald.
The No. 1 JUCO strongside defensive end in the nation flies around the field like he’s got a rocket shoved up his backside and takes clear delight in stripping quarterbacks of their wits. Considering the Huskers’ severe lack of a pass rush in 2017, getting playmakers straight away is a must and Gerald would immediately infuse the Blackshirts with much-needed push up front.
That’s good news, too, because while Gerald has acknowledged the need for him to pay his dues, he does want to start. Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander can easily offer him that opportunity.
With three years to play two, Gerald’s recruitment may be one that Husker fans should buckle in for if the Big Red gets a visit and the chances for that are looking pretty good right now.
He’s scheduled to visit Ole Miss on January 26 and Florida on February 2. He’s already visited Louisville leaving two more spots. One has to wonder if he’ll be another visitor for a January 12 date that is turning into a major recruiting weekend.
4.) OLB Javontae Jean-Baptiste – Speaking of the need for speed on the outside, Jean-Baptiste can provide that for the linebacker position.
The rangy athlete from Spring Valley, N.Y. provides excellent run support and pass rush off the edge, forcing opposing offensive coordinators to account for him. If Nebraska can secure a talent like Dorian Gerald, having to make sure where both are at any given time is a must considering they could both either swallow up a ballcarrier or swarm a quarterback trying to work with a broken pocket.
He’s seen Boston College and Virginia Tech, but he is scheduled to attend the aforementioned January 12 weekend in Lincoln.
5.) S Cam’ron Jones – As the Huskers work to replenish their secondary, Jones sticks out as a must-get especially since four-star commitment C.J. Smith decided against signing with Nebraska during the early signing period. Smith’s future may be in limbo, but it’s no secret that the Huskers want Jones badly.
Before the early signing period began, he decided on a couple of options: either ink his NLI with Nebraska, Ole Miss or SMU or abstain and visit Tennessee before making his decision in February. Since he decided to wait, SMU has been removed from consideration and been replaced by Baylor.
He already visited Nebraska officially on December 15 and it appears that the trip couldn’t have gone much better. In fact, there’s talk of setting up another visit next month to match his official trip to see Ole Miss. Fans of other teams have tweeted about wintertime temperatures in Nebraska to other recruits including Jones. Husker fans had to love his response:
If weather effects where u wanna play you'll never make it at any college it's a dawg eat dawg world the pups worry about the weather https://t.co/vkjqv9ZbtN
— CAM JONES (@camgonework15) December 24, 2017
It should be noted that Jones does have some incentive for coming to Lincoln. Teammate Corbin Frederick has a preferred walk-on offer waiting for him. Despite offers from Navy and San Diego, it sounds like that may be too tempting to pass up, especially if Frederick and Jones could continue their role as teammates.