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Friday, February 08, 2008

Signing Day Extravaganza - Part III

Ok, so I've given you a short take on each of this year's signees. Now it's time to look at the class a bit more closely.

Breakdown by State:

Texas (9): Grant (Killeen); Courtney Osborne (Garland); Steven Osborne (Garland); Spano (Stephenville); Thompson (The Woodlands); Ward (Brenham); Whaley (Madisonville); Whitmore (Port Arthur); Williams (Denton)

Nebraska (6): Fisher (Omaha); Henry (Omaha); Kreikemeier (West Point); Leverson (Crete); Okafor (Omaha); Steinkuhler (Lincoln)

California (3): Hetzer (Glendora); Meredith (Santa Ana); Toailoa (Highland)

Louisiana (2): Cooper (Shreveport); Smith (River Ridge)

Alabama (2): Rogers (Birmingham); Wald ()

Florida (1): Bell (Daytona Beach)

Georgia (1): Dennard (Rochelle)

Iowa (1): Cotton (Ames)

Kansas (1): Reed (Shawnee)

Missouri (1): Compton (Bonne Terre)

Ohio (1): Marlowe (Youngstown)

Breakdown and Grades by Position (as listed on

Offense (14):

QB -Spano

B - Given the time Pelini had to get somebody into the fold, we could have done a lot worse than Spano. Think Beau Davis or Jordan Adams - it's not easy to find quality QBs late in the game who aren't already committed elsewhere. We can also thank Mike Gundy for this one as he clearly botched Spano's recruitment, gift wrapping him for Pelini.

RB -Okafor, Ward

B- - We've all seen how important it is to create depth at the running back position. A year ago I was excited about a guy like Castille, this year, I'm less excited, but still believe we came away with some talent. Out of the two, I look for more from Lester Ward, but Okafor will certainly get a shot.

WR -Bell, Cooper, Marlowe, S. Osborne

A- - A nice haul of WRs, but I'm not sure this was an area with THIS much need. I think Cooper could be a real gem if he doesn't go Carl Crawford on us and choose professional baseball. Somewhere I saw he could be a second round pick in this year's MLB draft. You've read my take on Marlowe and I guess we don't mind having receivers wait in line for pass catching drills.

H-Back – Reed and TE -Cotton, Hetzer

A - I'll grade these together for simplicity. TE was a big need in this class and we really lucked out with Cotton. He'll be a pass catching upgrade from J.B. Phillips as soon as he steps on campus. Hetzer will be a project, but seems athletic. The major factor in the grade for this group is Kyler Reed. The more I think about him going into motion and catching balls in the flat, the more excited I get. Watson is going to LOOOOVE this kid.

OL -Grant, Henry, Steinkuhler, Thompson

A- - Steinkuhler pushes this group up more than it probably deserves. I like Thompson a lot as well, however. Without looking I think we lost about four guys from the OL so this group essentially replaces them and given the presence of Steinkuhler we're at least a push on that deal.

Defense (12):

DL -Meredith, Toailoa, Williams

B+ - This is a hard group to judge simply because it's so thin at the DT spot. That was a huge need this year and somehow we walked away with just one. The good news is that our first 2009 committment is from a DT from Lincoln Northeast (Suck My Rocket! - too obscure?) Cole Pensick who is believed to be a good one. I also think we hit the jackpot with Meredith and Williams and I really expect to see them contribute sooner rather than later.

LB- Compton, Fisher, Kreikemeier, Whaley

B+ - Another area of need and a decent group here. Compton was obviously huge, but I thought we'd score another big name to put beside him. Fisher could be a nice surprise as could Whaley. I'm just not convinced we made a huge upgrade here this offseason.

DB -Dennard, Levorson, Smith, Rogers, Whitmore

A - You can never have too many guys in the secondary and I think we wound up with a nice group here. Whitmore, Rogers and Dennard are all great athletes who should thrive in a more aggressive system. Our safety play can't get any worse than what we've seen in recent years and I think P.J. Smith is they type of guy who makes us forget a lot of the awful stuff we've suffered through.

Athlete (1): C. Osborne

I included Osborne in the assessment above. He doesn't have a safety build just yet, but I bet he winds up there soon.

National Rankings: #21 #30

These sound about right, if you're into that sort of thing. And I am to some extent, although ranking recruiting classes now rather than four years from now seems a bit disingenuous.

Walk-on Class

Name...Pos...Ht...Wt...Hometown...High School
Kenny Anderson...DE...6-2...235...Omaha, Neb...Millard West HS
Damon Bechtold...TE...6-4...215...Omaha, Neb...Westside HS
Jase Dean...FS...6-0...180...Bridgeport, Neb...Bridgeport HS
Taylor Dixon...DB...5-11...170...Wauneta, Neb...Wauneta-Palisade HS
Justin Jackson...DL...6-3...255...Roca, Neb...Norris HS
Jordan Makovicka...RB...5-10...170...Ulysses, Neb...East Butler HS
Matt Manninger...LB...6-1...225...Omaha, Neb...Creighton Prep HS
Mychael McClure...LB...6-5...210...Wisner, Neb...Wisner-Pilger HS
Colin McDermott...LB...6-2...225...Omaha, Neb...Creighton Prep HS
Conor McDermott...DE...6-2...230...Omaha, Neb....Creighton Prep HS
Sam Meginnis...LB...6-2...210...Lincoln, Neb...Lincoln East HS
Josh Molek...DE...6-3...235...Omaha, Neb...Skutt HS
Brent Moravec...FB/LB...6-0...180...Grand Island, Neb...Central Catholic HS
David Pillen...FB/LB...5-11...230...Sugar Land, Texas...Stephen F. Austin HS
Zach Ruiz...QB/ATH...6-3...210...Beatrice, Neb...Beatrice HS
Steve Spratte...WR...5-11...180...Waukesha, Wis...Waukesha West HS
Graham Stoddard...LB...6-2...215...Lincoln, Neb...Lincoln Southwest HS
Jeremy Wallace...RB...6-1...220...Omaha, Neb...Bryan HS

We have to be the only team that lists it's walk-ons on Signing Day, which is a good way. This list is missing a big one in Ronnnell Grixby who has also agreed to walk-on. In total I think we are expecting 30 walk-ons to join the team in the fall. Good for them. As I've said before I expect no walk-on to rectify all that ails the Big Red, but they will get a shot to contribute so bully for them.

My Take:

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the way Pelini and his staff finished out this recruiting cycle. Closing on guys like Rogers, Cooper and P.J. Smith who didn't seem to really be on Nebraska's radar prior to his arrival is big and sets the tone for the coming years.

My biggest concern centers on how many guys we brought in that are in that 6-0, 185 pound athlete range. We have a ton of those. That's just the way I used to recruit in the NCAA Football series on Playstation. Load up on athletes and then move them around as necessary. Unfortunately we don't have a reset button when our dynasty becomes overloaded at the skill positions and wafer thin at the big-ugly spots. Is this a first-time head coach "mistake" or is it better to fill up on talent where you can rather than reaching to fill a need? I don't have that answer, but I think we've got some insight into Pelini's philosophy on this. My hope is that next year we load up on interior guys and continue to milk the state of Texas for all it is worth.