Double Extra Point has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Signing Day Extravaganza - Part II

Collins Okafor, 6-1, 210. Growing up I assumed you had to be from Omaha to play running back for Nebraska. The string of talent the Big O produced was just that impressive. It’s been a while, however, as Okafor will now look to make a name for himself in the near future. Okafor’s film shows some quickness and strength, but I’m not yet convinced he has the breakaway speed to evade Big 12 defenders. He’ll also need to improve his pass protection skills and his receiving ability before he contributes heavily. If I had to make a quick comparison to former Huskers, I'd say Dahrran Diedrick. Okafor made a late flirtation with Iowa, but stuck with the Huskers throughout the coaching change. I still have a feeling Okafor could wind up at another position, but he’s now joining a growing number of guys recruited as “athletes”.

Courtney Osborne, 6-2, 170. The more impressive of the Osborne brothers in my opinion. Courtney looks like a future star at safety if he can continue to add size. He’s another reward for our efforts in Texas, especially those of new assistant Tim Beck. These are the kind of guys that helped turnaround KU under Beck’s watch. Osborne is a nice hitter on film who shows a knack for taking the right angle on ball carriers. Courtney could also end up as a WR with his brother, but seriously how many do we need? Even if June Jones winds up as our offensive coordinator, there’s still only one ball to go around.

Steven Osborne, 6-4, 185. Steven will almost certainly play WR for the Huskers, but again, something has to give. Steven’s film shows that he has soft hands and an obvious ability to get open against shorter defenders. I’d like to see him attack the ball more when it’s in the air, but that can be taught. He’ll also need to improve his blocking and his ability to get off bumps at the LOS, to rise to the top of a crowded depth chart. Overall, I’m happy to have the athleticism of both Osbornes, but just hope they can be put to use.

Kyler Reed, 6-3, 204. Yet another guy who fits in the “athlete” category. I’m hoping Reed ends up as an OLB, but Shawn Watson likes him as an “H Back”. I do like the idea of having his athleticism motioning and creating mismatches, but his frame just screams linebacker to me. Kyler was one of the top players in Kansas this year, and I like the idea of us grabbing him despite KU’s record-breaking year. That will need to continue if we are planning on gaining on the rest of the Big 12 North. Reed sounds like a great kid and could be a real sleeper given his versatility.

Justin Rogers, 5-11, 180. It sounds like Rogers may start at CB, but RB remains a definite possibility for the talented Alabaman. He has a great head on his shoulders, however, as he indicated that his NFL future probably lies as a DB and that RB’s take too many hits on their way to the next level. This is another guy who we got in on late and managed to close on. This is a great sign of things to come for this staff on the recruiting front. Rogers rushed for 2,100 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior and followed that up with 2,110 yards and 28 scores this past fall. Rogers chose NU over LSU, Clemson, and Auburn among others.

P.J. Smith, 6-3, 205. Smith is another guy I’m uber-excited about despite not having an overly impressive offer list. For one, I like that Pelini got him out of Louisiana. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m big on us getting some guys out of not only Texas, but also the rest of the South. Smith just looks the part of a safety and his film bears that out. He’s not afraid of contact and does a nice job of getting low on tackles. That doesn’t always come natural to taller, lankier guys. I’d like to see him be a bit more aggressive in attacking ballcarriers rather than allowing them to come to him, but the most important thing for a safety is making the play, which Smith seems to do.

Kody Spano, 6-2, 202. Spano’s signing means we’ve brought in midterm QBs from Texas in two straight recruiting classes. That’s a trend I wouldn’t mind continuing. Spano looks to be a dual-threat QB who can make some plays with his legs. To be honest, he looks a lot like a taller Joe Ganz on film. In a normal year I think fans would be ecstatic to get Spano. Because he essentially filled the spot vacated by Blain Gabbert, he’s probably not getting the respect he deserves. Spano will have some extra time to learn the offense and depending upon Watson’s preference for QB type could leapfrog a guy like Witt in say a year from now. Overall, Spano’s film shows a guy that does a lot of things well, but he’s not really spectacular in any particular area.

Baker Steinkuhler, 6-6, 290. A five-star lineman prospect from our own backyards, what could be better? Steinkuhler began his senior year as part of what looked like it could be the best offensive line class in the country. But following a flurry of decommits, Baker really stands alone to help fill some immediate needs. The only question that remains is which side of the ball will he play? I go back and forth on this one. I could see him becoming a dominant OL like his dad, or a fine DT in a 4-3 scheme. Right now my gut says OT that we can really build around. Baker is extremely strong and physical and honestly might get some snaps as a true freshman. He looks twice as good on film as Burkes did in high school and Burkes impressed the hell out of me a year ago.

Brandon Thompson, 6-6, 280. Thompson is another lineman that excites me. He wound up as a 3-star according to Rivals, but held offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas Tech and Virginia. Plays for a great program in the Woodlands outside of Houston, so he will come in well-versed and tested against tremendous competition. Once again, think about Anthony Blue and how mature he looked as a true freshman last fall. Texas high school football really is a different animal, especially at top-tier programs. Thompson is extremely strong and also athletic. He throws the shot and discus and also boasts a 30+ inch vertical jump at his size, which is quite impressive.

Quentin Toailoa, 6-5, 275. My dear lord, we finally got a high school DT recruit! Toailoa could be the gem of the class based solely on that. We will need him to contribute early and often if Pelini’s defense is going to have any success. All defenses struggle when the front four get winded and given our lack of depth up front we could be in trouble. I like Toailoa’s frame and think it can successfully carry another 25 pounds or so. He’ll need to if the coaches really do plan on running him at the three-technique. Toailoa will need to get stronger, but could be a good one down the road. And here's to hoping he brings the Haka with him to Lincoln.

Mason Wald, 5-11, 195. Somebody is wrong, wrong, wrong about Wald. This guy flew so far under the radar his middle name might be “stealth”. An unknown in recruiting circles despite a hit parade on film, Wald has Husker fans drooling. So somebody is definitely wrong. Either our coaching staff or the recruiting services have missed. If it’s the recruiting services then we just scored a living, breathing Bobby Boucher. If our coaches missed we get the second coming of Brandon Rigoni. I’ll glad take either, but guess is the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Lester Ward, 6-3, 185. Ward decommitted from Baylor to sign with the Huskers, which should probably scare Husker fans at least a little. Baylor? I guess since his dad played there we can overlook the implied crappiness of having to out-duel Baylor. Anyway, Ward does have some talent and actually reminds me a little of Leon Jackson. Ward wants to play RB and that’s apparently where Nebraska wants him to start. Most impressive to me, are some notes in his Scout profile which indicate he saw time with the Brenham varsity team as a freshman and also indicate he had a 6’2” high jump and 42’ triple jump as an eighth grader(!). Ward’s offer list suffered as he missed most of his senior season with a hamstring injury. Again Ward’s athleticism excites me, and I’ll be curious to see how the coaching staff decides to utilize him.

Alonzo Whaley, 6-0, 213. Whaley is a nice looking LB prospect from the Lone Star state. He was a playmaker in high school and finished his senior year with 162 total tackles, eight forced fumbles, five fumbles recovered and an interception which he took back for a TD. You can clearly see that Pelini is looking for athletes to line up all over the field, but particularly at linebacker. Whaley is the kind of guy that harkens back to guys like Jamel Williams from days gone by. Whaley turned down offers from Big 12 schools, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas A&M to sign with the Huskers.

David Whitmore, 6-2, 190. Whitmore holds the honor of being the sole signee that I saw play in person. I came away impressed with his athleticism, a little worried about his size (he’s skinny), and thinking he would benefit from a year or two of quality coaching. I stand by those claims today despite the fact that he recently received his fourth-star from Rivals. Whitmore’s highlights show a guy that runs well and is serviceable against the run. I noted in my original take that he didn’t play even one snap on offense, and I’m still not sure what that really says about him. I’m definitely sold on his height and I love that he’ll be coached by anyone not named Elmassian or Cosgrove. Given that fact alone, the sky is the limit for Whitmore.

Josh Williams, 6-4, 220. Williams is the second DE recruit that I’m really pumped about. Of all the guys that were on the verge of decommitting, Williams was really the one I wanted to keep on board. As his film shows, he will be a tremendous pass rusher as he readily sheds blocks and uses his hands well for a guy his age. He also has the kind of motor we are used to seeing at rush end. Given Williams ability to get to the passer, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get some time in nickel and 3rd down packages early in his career, much like Barry Turner was able to do as a true freshman. With time I think Williams and Meredith could wind up an extremely productive duo of pass rushers.