The first stretch of pavement on Nebraska’s long road back to respectability might have been laid Wednesday.
The Cornhuskers landed five of the top 300 recruits in the country, according to 247Sports analysts, on Day 1 of the NCAA’s Early Signing Period. Last year they landed four of the top 300 in Scott Frost’s first year as coach and that included the February signing period.
That Big Red is off to such a strong start with the Class of 2019 bodes well for the future of the program. Nebraska still has holes to fill but the staff got off on the right foot with its roster of 23 new signings. Again, the task is not done because there are two more days in the Early Signing Period plus the traditional Signing Day in February.
Here are 5 takeaways from the first day of Early Signing Period.
Keeping the big man home
The top-rated Nebraskan according to the recruiting rankings stayed home to play for the Cornhuskers. Nick Henrich, a 4-star ILB out of Omaha Burke, signed Wednesday with Big Red. Not only was he the top recruit in the state, he’s also atop the Cornhuskers’ overall list of signees. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Henrich is rated the nation’s No. 8 inside linebacker.
More success close by
The top 5 recruits in Nebraska all signed with the Cornhuskers. Chris Hickman, Henrich’s teammate at Burke High, chose to stay in state; he is a 4-star tight end. The other top state natives headed to Lincoln are 3-star DE Garrett Nelson (Scottsbluff High), 3-star ATH Garrett Snodgrass (York) and 3-star DT Ethan Piper (Norfolk Catholic).
Nebraska was still awaiting the signature of two junior college recruits as of early Wednesday evening. OG Desmond Bland (Arizona Western) is rated as a 3-star recruit, as is RB Dedrick Mills (Garden City CC). Bland committed to the Cornhuskers in June, Mills in September. But Bland isn’t going to graduate until May, according to recent reports, so he can’t sign yet.
As much as coach Scott Frost and his staff like to keep Nebraska natives home, the reality is that this program has to have a wide recruiting base to win. To that end, 15 states are already represented in this this signing class, from Arizona to New Jersey and points in between. The Cornhuskers landed the No. 2 rated player in Kentucky (RB Wandale Robinson); the second-ranked prospect in Minnesota (OT Bryce Benhart); and the top recruit in Colorado (ATH Luke McCaffrey).
Not ready yet
Nebraska is still in the running for what would be one of its biggest coups in the signing season. But 4-star S Noa Pola-Gates is delaying his decision until February’s signing period; in between he will play in the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 19 in Honolulu. Poa-Gates has made official visits to — in chronological order — Penn State, Nebraska, Arizona State, Alabama and Southern California.