Recruiting Round Table Wrap Up
The BRN writing staff offers their overall impressions of the 2012 class
Now that the initial excitement of Signing Day 2012 has ended and most of the over-reactions (both good and bad) have been expressed, it seems like the right time to revisit the Huskers' results with fresh eyes. Thankfully, here at BRN we have a variety of contributors and perspectives. So, a round table discussion seemed in order. Here are our thoughts on the class. Take time to share your ideas in the comments if you like.
- What is your overall impression of this class? What jumps out at you when you consider the whole group?
Darren - It's impressive considering the small number of kids in it. People get caught up in the national rankings. That's for good reason, because there is some correlation to winning there. But, the quantity of players matters in those rankings. For NU to be in the top 25-30 range with just 17 players tells you a lot about the caliber of the players. Imagine if they had been able to take 23. No 5-star? Not a big problem. The class has lots of players that were ranked as 4-star caliber by at least one of the services. And, there isn't a lot of chaff (lightly regarded players) filling the bottom. What good is a 25+ class if 8 of them are busts?
Brandon -The class as a whole is in line with Pelini's past classes and the "quality," as measured by Rivals average star rating, is the second-best under Pelini. Not bad for his smallest class in five years at the helm. Nebraska very obviously put its emphasis on LB and DB and adding a Juco player at each spot -- guys who could and probably will come in and contribute immediately -- was a trend I was happy to see continue
Tom - I think the negative implications on offense and the concerns in the defensive backs are overstressed. Nebraska does not need 6 and 7 DB's on the field anymore, and the speed and skill on the offensive side is explosive. What this class shows is that Bo Pelini wants to get to the quarterback and stop the run. The front seven on D may be looking deadly for offenses going up against the Huskers.
Steve - I like the front seven players that they got on defense. That seems critical moving forward in the Big Ten. Not a sexy class, but a solid meat and potatoes class.
- Which individual player are you most excited about seeing on the field? Why?
Darren - The gut reaction is to point to a skill player, because they are so visible and because there is a lot to like about both Tommy Armstrong and Jordan Westerkamp. And the question is about excitement. Right? But, ultimately, football games are won by the big people along the line of scrimmage. So, I'll go with Paul Thurston. This kid could have played anywhere. He doesn't get talked about because he only visited NU. I think he is the overall most talented kid in the class. It's not a sexy answer. But this is the kind of player that can help NU win.
Brandon - I like shiny things so I'll take the bait. WR Jordan Westerkamp will play right away next year and that's saying something when you consider Nebraska's depth at receiver. Westerkamp holds almost every career receiving record in Illinois -- catches (235), yards (4,618), TDs (68) -- and he's the son of a coach and former Illinois wide receiver. Lot to like there including this: He didn't end up at Michigan, Illinois or Notre Dame. Those are new recruiting rivals.
Tom - Michael Rose. He was one of those guys that has the "want to" to play at Nebraska. Never wavered. I heard about him from the father of one of his classmates last year and his ethic sounds Burkhead-like.
Steve - I'll say Zaire Anderson. Given the success the Pelini had with Demorrio Williams and Lavonte David, I'm expecting big things from the juco linebacker.
- On the flip side, what disappointed you about this class?
Darren - Sorry Tom, but I think Nebraska needed more cornerbacks, and they didn't get them. Mo Seisay will play right away and could be a tremendous addition to the team. But, NU really needed at least one if not two more cornerbacks and didn't get them. Coach Pelini pointed out that Alonzo Moore and LeRoy Alexander will start out as corners to start their career, and that NU really recruits "defensive backs" more than corners and safeties. But, I'm not buying all of that. If they didn't need corners, why did they visit or host dozens of defensive backs this cycle, and why did they keep recruiting Ford and Shelton until the very end? The Huskers needed one more true corner in the group.
Brandon - I agree. The inability to add DB depth was the big "miss" of this class. Nebraska was in on a lot of intriguing prospects late and all 50 of them went to UCLA. At least that's how I remember it. ATHs LeRoy Alexander and Alonzo Moore will start out in the secondary but last year's experience with creating DBs out of anyone who was willing to try was less than savory.
Tom - Bo Pelini can say what he wants about adding stars, I like five-star players. I'm not just talking about Peat, the Huskers need to be gunning for more. Even the number of four star guys seems low. If guys come in who are very skillful, it makes coaches jobs easier dealing with less development. Projects are for walk-ons.
Steve - The obvious answer here would be missing out on Peat. And really, the Solich years made me nervous anytime a class has fewer than four offensive linemen in it. It didn't have to be Peat, but one or two more quality offensive linemen would have been nice. But that's me looking for something to be down on. Really, I wasn't particularly disappointed about any part of the class. I'm not quite as down on the secondary in large part because I don't think the pass rush was that good a year ago. Watch the defensive line improve this year and the defensive backs will start looking better as well. The same is true for the future with the front seven foundation that they bolstered.
Who are the "sleepers" in this bunch? What player do you think is being under-discussed or underrated?
Darren - There is a lot to like about Jared Afalava. He's being overshadowed because there is a big and talented total group of linebackers in this class. And, Michael Rose is the headliner in that group. But, when I watch film of Afalava, I see a very explosive player, a great tackler and a player who can do a lot of things. He played in the middle, was able to rush off the edge, and appears to be excellent at dropping in to pass coverage. This is a player who can fit very well with what NU asks its middle linebackers to do. I think he is a real steal for the Huskers.
Brandon - I continue to think that walk-on QB Ryker Fyfe will be a bigger factor than people think in the quarterback battle a few years down the road but as far as scholarship guys I like RB Imani Cross quite a bit. He had a handful of SEC offers -- South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky -- as well as one from Georgia Tech, where his brother, Izaan, has started at DE the past two years. Cosmically, I think severing the Cross brother's connection at Tech led directly to Andrus Peat's decision to head west so Imani better be good.
Tom – I'm torn between Imani Cross and Sam Cotton. It looks like Bo wants to stack up the blocking up front while still having offensive weapons. Offensive players who are versatile are like getting two for the price of one. If you bring in the "blocking" tight end or "change of pace" back, defenses can plan around it. If you bring in a guy who can play multiple roles, defenses have to account for that.
Steve - I agree on Cotton. If he doesn't become a good blocker and regular contributor, I'll be surprised. Likewise, I think Cross can steal the starting job at I-back after Burkhead graduates. Corey Whitaker just needs to add some good weight and I think he can be a very good offensive lineman.