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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2007 Signing Day Extravaganza

Small change in plans. I found a window of time and decided to get this up now, before it became old news. The class is full as best I can tell. Latest word has recruiting-slut David Ross to Oregon State. Ugh. Anyway here it is.

Woo! We've got fresh meat! Here is the comprehensive 2007 recruiting class. This is another class that looks great on paper. Unfortunately championships are not won on paper. We can expect that some of these will never make it to Lincoln. I have severe academic concerns about at least two. Another percentage will "fail", if failing means having your education paid for, while you attempt to crack the top of the depth chart at one of the most storied football programs in the country. A few will imagine greener pastures, seeking playing time or just a change of scenery. And still others will unfortunately run afoul of team rules or worse yet - Johnny Law.

But Signing Day is a fresh start. A grocery cart filled with speed and strength and hype. And a hyped recruit can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack and Coke all morning. He can make you feel high, full of the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gait of a hyped recruit. In his smile, in his glare, the way he makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be okay. The hyped recruits, folks? That's all they are. Bottled promise. Scenes from a brand new day. Hope packaged in shoulder pads.

Prince Amukamara ATH 6’1 180 4.5 Glendale (AZ) Apollo H.S. Amukamara was named Arizona's Big School Player of the Year in 2006. He thinks of himself as a Deion Sanders type player who can do it all. Rushed for 2106 yards and 24 TDs as a Senior. Also caught 22 passes for 452 yards and 6 TDs. Amukamura has incredible vision and an uncanny ability to change direction on a dime. He also excels at finding cutback lanes, which produced some amazing runs in high school. Amukamura will need to add size and strength and might have to improve his blocking if he is lined up as a WR. He is a 3-star prospect according to Rivals, and is ranked as the 56th best Athlete prospect in the 2007 class. Amukamara selected Nebraska over offers from Colorado, Oregon State, Fresno State and UTEP.

Larry Asante S 6’1 205 4.4 Coffeyville (KS) Coffeyville C.C. Asante was the only safety targeted by the Nebraska staff, who believe he is the top safety prospect in the country. He led Coffeyville in tackles with 76, had 11 TFL, three blocked kicks and one interception in 2006. Asante has great size and possesses the quick-sudden-violent movements that you look for from the safety position. Asante will need to transfer his physical abilities and instincts to the more intelligent style of football played in the Big 12. Asante signed his LOI in December and is already enrolled for Spring semester. Could push for the starting SS spot if his development in the Spring goes as planned. Considered the 9th best JUCO player in the 2007 class, Asante was 4-star prospect according to Rivals. Chose Nebraska over offers from Clemson, Iowa State, KSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M.

Shukree Barfield DT 6’4 310 4.9 Garden City (KS) Garden City C.C. One of two key JUCO DT signings, which should help buffer the departure of Nebraska’s entire starting D-line. Barfield is a big-bodied and athletic DT. He’s an explosive player known for his motor and tenacity. Barfield seems to have the ability to play both one-tecnique or the three-technique. He finished his sophomore season at Garden City with 54 tackles, five sacks and even one interception in 2006. Barfield is listed 3-star prospect by Rivals. Originally from Camden, NJ he signed with Rutgers out of high school, and picked Nebraska in 2007 over offers from USF, Kentucky, Louisville, and Rutgers.

Anthony Blue CB 5’10 172 4.5 Cedar Hill (TX) Cedar Hill H.S. After suffering from a lack of depth in the defensive backfield in 2006, Nebraska worked hard to solidify this area through recruiting. Blue is an athletic DB from the Lone Star state. He finished his senior campaign with 48 tackles and 1 INT. Blue’s team won the Texas 5A state title and finished the 2006 season with a 16-0 record. He registered six stops in the state finals against Garland. A Rivals 3-star prospect, Blue considered offers from Baylor, Houston, Purdue, Wisconsin, among others before selecting the Huskers. You can checkout some of his highlights below.

Jaivorio Burkes OL 6’4 311 5.7 Phoenix (AZ) Moon Valley H.S. Burkes is another in a string of recent lineman with great size. Burkes’ biggest asset from a physical standpoint may be his long arms. He is a 4-star prospect and was considered the #7 OG prospect in the 2007 class by rivals. Due to his frame Burkes may play tackle in college. Jaivorio excels in pass protection and improved his run blocking as a senior. He will no doubt benefit from Nebraska’s strength and conditioning program, but also must develop some nastiness and the desire to bring it on every play. Burkes chose the Huskers over Arizona, ASU, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon and Oregon State.

Quentin Castille RB 6’ 235 4.6. La Porte (TX) La Porte H.S. Another recruiting payoff from our efforts in the state of Texas. Castille is the big-bodied back in this year’s class. He has a powerful running style and hits the hole quickly and decidedly. Castille utilizes his leg drive to break a lot tackles and he should at the very least push Cody Glenn for goal line carries. Rushed for over 1700 yards and 20 TDs, while averaging 7.9 yards/carry in 2006. A 4-star prospect by Rivals, Castille was ranked as the 36th best player in Texas. Castille chose Nebraska after considering offers from Louisville, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Indiana, and UTEP.

Jared Crick DE 6’6 254 4.8. Cozad (NE) Cozad H.S. One of two in-state recruits in the 2007 class. Crick finished his senior season with 68 tackles, 6 TFL and 1 sack. He also averaged 18.9 yards/catch as a TE. As a DE he is quick off the ball and plays with a nasty attitude. Bull-rushed people off the line in high school, but will have to work hard on additional techniques if he hopes to excel in the Big 12. His football savvy could help him learn schemes and alignments at Nebraska. Despite coming from a small school, Crick more than held his own at the East Meets West All-American game in Orlando. He’s a 3-star prospect according to Rivals and chose Nebraska over offers from CSU, ISU, Wyoming, Kansas and Ohio.

Demetrious Davis DT 6’4 280 5.2 St. Joseph (MO) Benton H.S. A nice get for the coaches out of the state of Missouri. Davis is extremely strong (420 bench, 575 squat) and explosive off the line. He recorded 70 tackles last season as a junior including six sacks. He put off shoulder surgery to repair cartilage damage in order to play in the East Meets West All-American game, but should be recovered from this in time for Fall camp. Unfortunately it looks like grades may be an issue. At this point he either plays catch up during the Spring or Summer or we won't see him on campus. A Rivals 3-star he was ranked as the #39 DT nationally and the 10th best player from Missouri in 2007. Davis chose Nebraska after considering offers from Kansas State, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado and Iowa.

Kevin Dixon DT 6’3 292 4,8. Garden City (KS) Garden City C.C. Another important DT pick up for the 2007 class. Dixon was a JUCO teammate of Shukree Barfield. May be counted on to step up and play early. A little smaller than his teammate, Dixon relies on his quickness and strength to get up field. Will need to work on adding size and improving his technique. Dixon originally committed to South Florida before changing his mind after a late November visit to Nebraska. Dixon is ranked as the 36th best JUCO player in the 2007 class and is a Rivals 4-star prospect.

Curenski Gilleylen WR 6’0 210 4.5 Leander (TX) Leander H.S. Another Texan and one of several additions to the class that should improve the number of big play threats on the roster. Gilleylan looks like a nice WR prospect with good hands and a great ability to get open. He has a ton of speed and reportedly ran back-to-back 4.3 forties at the Rice camp. Gilleylan finished his senior campaign with 30 receptions for 915 yards and 9 TDs. He also rushed for over 500 yards and 4 TDs. Expected to begin his career at the X-receiver position, he may also return punts and kickoffs and Nebraska. Rivals lists him a 3-star prospect and the 49th best WR in the 2007 class. Gilleylen chose Nebraska after considering offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Purdue. A collection of his high school highlights is offered below.

Eric Hagg WR/DB 4.5 6’2 192 Peoria (AZ) Ironwood H.S. Hagg is another nice looking athlete from the state of Arizona. He has good size and could end up at WR or DB at Nebraska. Hagg has soft hands and the speed to get separation from DBs. He finished his senior year with 49 receptions for 920 yards and 9 TDs. On the defensive side of the ball he also had 33 tackles and 3 INTs as a DB. Will need to work on his route running as a WR in college. If he is looked at as a DB, he will need to improve his toughness, aggressiveness and willingness to make the initial contact. A Rivals 3-star prospect Hagg was listed as the 15th best prospect in the state of Arizona. Hagg selected Nebraska over Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah and Fresno State.

Roy Helu RB 5’11 210 Danville (CA) San Ramon Valley H.S. Helu typifies one of the supposed second-tier California prospects that Nebraska initially discovers and then eventually receives numerous other offers. Helu looks to be an extremely versatile back who has a special mix of size and speed. He also has great hands and excels as a receiver out of the backfield. Finished his senior year with 1085 yards rushing and 11 TDs. He also caught 20 passes for 280 yards and a TD. Due to the late decommitment of Travis Lewis he might get a look as a LB once he arrives on campus, but we’ve all seen why depth at RB is also important. Helu is a Rivals 3-star prospect who was ranked as the 55th best RB in the 2007 class. He selected Nebraska over Cal, BYU, and Oregon.

Ryan Hill TE 6’3 230 4.7 Arvada (CO) Arvada West H.S. Another incredible athlete who played QB, FS, TE, was the all-Colorado punter for two years and was also the kicker. Will be counted on to add depth to the TE position, which did not play much of a role for the 2006 Huskers. Hill finished his senior season with 42 receptions for 924 yards and 7 TDs. Had over 800 receiving yards and 15 TDs as a junior. He will need to get bigger, and stronger and also improve his blocking before he can be expected to contribute at Nebraska. Hill flew below the radar and had very few offers prior to Nebraska. Much of this is due to work of Shawn Watson who got in on Hill early. Once he committed to NU other teams seemingly backed off.

Marcel Jones T 6’7 310 5.3 Phoenix (AZ) Trevor Browne H.S. Marcel has to be one of Nebraska’s biggest recruits ever. Possesses the prototypical body of a tackle. Has the long arms, large hands and good feet that Dennis Wagner covets in his linemen. Jones is exceptionally athletic for his size also plays basketball. He was named all-region for his efforts on the hardwood as a junior and is averaging 12 points and 8 rebounds per game as a senior. Jones will need to increase his strength, develop more tenacity and go hard on every play to be successful at NU. A Rivals 3-star he is considered the 13th best prospect from the state of Arizona. Jones chose Nebraska over scholarship offers from Arizona State and Oregon State.

Adi Kunalic K 6’0 175 Fort Worth (TX) North Crowley H.S. Adi could turn out to be the most important member of this recruiting class following the departure of Jordan Congdon. Kunalic had a fantastic junior season in which he connected on FGs of 57 and 53 yards that put him on the map. When his team faltered his senior year, his FG opportunities all but disappeared. He was able to connect, however, on 2/4 FGs, was 29-31 on extra points and averaged over 40 yards per punt as a senior. Kunalic displayed a powerful leg in high school and the majority of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. Like all high school kickers, he will have to adjust to the one inch tee for kickoffs and using no tee on FGAs. Kunalic turned down offers from Miami, Kansas, Utah, and Washington State to sign with the Huskers.

Blake Lawrence OLB 6’2 200 4.65 Overland Park (KS) Shawnee Mission West H.S. Played a lot of safety in high school, but will likely line up at the SAM spot at Nebraska. Had strong senior year that included 90 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 INTs. He also rushed for 476 yards and 16 TDs. He has quick feet and moves pretty well laterally. Also displayed a nose for the ball and is a solid tackler. Blake will need to improve his pass coverage skills as well as work on shedding blocks before he will earn a Blackshirt. Received 4-star rating and listed as the top prospect in the state of Kansas, and the 18th best OLB by Rivals. Lawrence’s brother Tyler was a member of the 2006 recruiting class at Kansas. Blake spurned offers from Kansas, Arizona State, Colorado, Kansas State, Michigan State and Texas Tech to sign with Nebraska. You can see some of Blake's work below.

Zach Lee QB 6’2 200 4.6 San Francisco (CA) City College of San Francisco. Nebraska once again dipped into the JUCO ranks to provide some much needed depth to the QB position. Hopefully this Zach will be as successful as the last one. Completed 64% of his passes for 3,471 yards and 31 TD with just 5 INTs in 2006. He signed his LOI in December and is already enrolled for Spring semester. Unfortunately he suffered a knee injury toward the end of his season, which has kept him out of winter conditioning. Recent reports indicate he may be cleared to run soon. Having an extra spring to pick up the offense could be crucial to his future development. Lee was listed as the 10th best JUCO player in the 2007 class and was a 4-star prospect according to Rivals. Chose the Huskers over Cal, Mississippi State, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Marcus Mendoza RB/WR 5’10 175 4.4 Houston (TX) Spring Woods H.S. An intriguing talent that was too good to pass up. Possesses track star speed, great agility and balance, terrific hands and surprising strength (260 bench, 485 squat). Finished his senior season with 700 yards rushing and 6 TDs as well as 259 yards receiving and 4 TDs. It will be interesting to see where Mendoza lines up for the Huskers, but it was obviously his playmaking abilities that we coveted. Could be effective as slot receiver, scat type RB and dangerous return man. Will go through spring practices having already signed his LOI and is currently enrolled in Spring semester classes. Mendoza chose the Huskers over Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU.

Terrence Moore DT 6’3 267 New Orleans (LA) McDonogh 35 H.S. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Moore spent his junior year in Spring, TX. Returned back to Louisiana for his senior season. An extremely strong prospect, Moore is quick off the ball and sheds blocks well. Should fill out in college and has the frame to carry up to 30 additional pounds. Moore closed out his high school career with 81 tackles, an incredible 31 TFL, 14 sacks and also recovered 2 fumbles. Moore was listed as the 22nd ranked player from the state of Louisiana. A 3-star Rivals prospect, Moore picked Nebraska over Tulane, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, and Rice.

Armando Murillo CB 6’0 195 4.4 Thatcher (AZ) Eastern Arizona C.C. The signing of Murillo marks the third straight year in which Nebraska has picked up a highly-ranked JUCO CB. He has good size and excellent speed. It will be interesting to again see how these physical traits mesh with his ability to pick up Nebraska’s schemes and techniques. Murillo signed his LOI in December and is already enrolled for Spring semester. While Zack Bowman and Andre Jones took most of the regular season to become comfortable at CB it is hoped that Murillo will benefit from going through winter conditioning and Spring ball. 4-star prospect by Rivals. Had 30 tackles and 3 INTs in 2006. Selected Nebraska after considering offers from WVU, Arizona State, Louisville, Kansas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Hawaii.

Niles Paul WR 6’2 210 4.4 Omaha (NE) North H.S. A home-state player who also happens to be one of the most decorated members of the 2007 class. Paul is a dynamic receiver, who could push for early playing time if he improves his route running. Named a Parade All-American, he also played in the U.S. Army All-American Game and more than held his own against the elite competition. Finished senior season with 46 catches for 813 yards and 13 TDs. Niles has great body control, terrific hands and solid concentration. These attributes mean that he can catch in traffic in addition to providing Nebraska with a much-needed deep threat. A Rivals 4-star, Paul was listed as the top player from the state of Nebraska, the 73rd ranked player in the country and the 10th best WR prospect in the U.S. Paul is the nephew of Ahman Green and his spent two summers in Green Bay working out with Green and his teammates. Committed to Nebraska shortly after its Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan. Paul also had offers from Michigan and Iowa State among others. You can see Paul in action below.

Austin Stafford LB 6’2 200 4.5 Hayward (CA) Hayward H.S. Another California prospect that Nebraska was in on early. Stafford played some DE in high school, but will likely line up as a LB in college. His senior statistics are unavailable, but Stafford had 83 tackles, 12 TFL and 10 sacks as a junior in 2005. Has extremely quick feet and great lateral movement that allows him to roam from sideline to sideline. His athleticism should be a great addition to the linebacking corps. Will need to add size and strength as well as improve his pass coverage skills in order to contribute at Nebraska. Stafford is listed as the 26th best OLB prospect in the country and the 45 best player in California. He committed after his mid-December visit and selected the Huskers over offers from San Diego State and Utah.

Shawn Sullivan DB 5’9 180 4.4 Brenham (TX) Brenham H.S. Another prospect that will be counted on to eventually provide depth in the secondary. Possesses good quickness and solid strength (325 bench, 435 squat). Doesn’t have the height that Nebraska typically looks for in its CBs, but appears to be a bit more physical than Grixby. A 3-star according to Rivals, Sullivan is considered the 43rd best CB prospect and the 89th ranked player from the state of Texas. One of the first members of the 2006 class, Sullivan chose Nebraska after considering offers from TCU, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Houston and Oklahoma State.

Joseph Townsend DE 6’4 295 4.8 Los Altos Hills (CA) Foothill College. Another JUCO added to help fill the void along the defensive line. Has the body of a DT, but the quickness of DE. Although he played DT in junior college, he is expected to line up as a DE at Nebraska and will perhaps be counted on to replace Adam Carriker. Townsend managed to add 30 pounds to his frame while in JUCO to put him at his current playing weight. A rivals 4-star Townsend was listed as the 30th ranked JUCO prospect in the 2007 class. He will have four years to play three for the Huskers. His brother Larry played DT for Nebraska in the mid-90s. Townsend selected Nebraska over Arizona State, Mississippi State and Washington State.

LaTravis Washington LB/S 6’3 210 4.5 Bradenton (FL) Bayshore H.S. Another Husker legacy in the class, LaTravis is the cousin of Fabian Washington. LaTravis was a dual-threat QB in high school, who will likely play safety or linebacker at NU. Defensively LaTravis played safety and DE in high school and recorded 5 sacks from his DE spot. A Rivals 3-star he was ranked as the #39 ranked safety in the country and the 65th best player in Florida. Washington chose Nebraska over Ohio State, WVU, Louisville, and North Carolina State. Ohio State was the only school among his finalists that was recruiting Washington as a QB. Another with grade issues, he will need to raise his GPA or test scores to become eligible. Greyshirting and arriving in the Spring of 2008 could be an option so it might be best to see how this plays out.

Patrick Witt QB 6’4 215 4.7 Wylie (TX) Wylie H.S. With Witt, Nebraska picked up a commitment from its first high school QB since Harrison Beck. Witt is a big, strong-armed QB from Texas. He shows pretty good pocket awareness and gets the ball out quick. Although they clearly whiffed on some of the higher profile QB recruits, the Nebraska coaches feel Witt possesses all the skills to run their offense. Witt finished his senior campaign by completing 57% of his passes for 1846 yards and 17 TDs. He was rated as a 3-star prospect by Rivals and was listed as the #18 pro-style QB and the 84th best player in the state of Texas. Witt graduated high school early, is already enrolled in classes and will take part in Spring practice. He picked Nebraska over scholarship offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, Baylor, Indiana, and Purdue. Witt’s brother is currently a QB at Harvard.

William Yancy DE 6’4 225 4.7 Glendale (AZ) Ironwood H.S. Another member of Coach Busch’s amazing recruiting haul from Arizona. He is very athletic and displays great quickness off the line of scrimmage. He could wind up as a tremendous pass rusher in the mold of Barry Turner. Has good height, but will need to pack on pounds and increase his strength to become an every down DE in the Big 12. Was extremely disruptive during his senior season collecting 80 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 TFL, 2 FF, and 1 FR. Probably has the athleticism to play TE in college if necessary. Yancy earned 4-stars from Rivals and is the #18 DE nationally and the #4 rated player from the state of Arizona. He selected the Huskers over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State and Purdue.

OL Aaron Schulte (Norfolk)

C/LS Mike Caputo (Millard North)
OL Mike Masin (Lincoln Southeast)
FB Kevin Thomsen (Elkhorn)
FB/ATH Michael Hays (Papillion)
WR Matt Donahue (Fremont)
WR Keith Graham (Charleston, S.C.)
DE Luke Lingenfelter (Plainview)
DL Taylor Escamilla (Fremont Bergan)
LB Thomas Grove (Arlington)
ILB Jeff Sayre (Barrington, Ill.)
S Matt May (Imperial Chase County)
S Austin Cassidy (Lincoln Southwest)