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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Tunnel Walk: 2009 Recruiting Round-Up...and onward to 2010.

Less than a week ago, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers tackle football team, led by a man called Bo Pelini accepted signed facsimiles of letters of intent from 20 young men. To TW, that's old news. Tunnel Walk is moving on because there are less than 360 days to signing day 2010. Join us as we take a look into the future.



Colleges can officially offer written scholarships beginning on September 1st of a prospect's junior year of high school. Being the first to offer a recruit can be very beneficial (see Steinkuhler, Baker). It can also backfire if the recruit accepts and does not pan out (see Bodtmann, Shawn). It all boils down to the evaluation of talent, which can be extremely difficult with grainy tape of 16 and 17 year old kids. But the evaluations continue regardlessly and according to Rivals and Scout, here are some of the top prospects of the 2010 recruiting class that Nebraska is competing for.



Quarterback



Blake Bell, 6-6/215, Wichita, KS (Bishop Carroll Catholic HS). Bell is listed on Rivals' 250 To Watch for 2010 and Scout has already awarded him 4 stars. He is being mentored/advised by a man named Brian Butler. This is the same man who mentored Albert and Bryce Brown, both top 5 national recruits in the past two years. This will give him a leg up in handling the recruiting pressure, but may also lead to a high profile recruitment--the kind with multiple press clippings and possible decommitments. Who knows. Just speculation. What is not speculation at this point is his infatuation with Nebraska. Following this weekend's NU Junior Day, Bell was quoted as saying that Nebraska was definitely at the top of his list. Landing a big time recruit like Bell from a neighboring Big XII state would do wonders for the 2010 recruiting class.



Robert Bolden, 6-4/196, Orchard Lake, MI (St. Mary's Prepatory School). Dual-threat quarterback that Rivals has on their 250 of 2010 list and Scout has given 1 star (obviously none of these prospects have been fully evaluated, but at this juncture, 1 star is better than a NR and puts a recruit firmly on the national map). With a grip of Big 10 offers in hand, it is not likely that Nebraska has a shot.



Terrance Broadway, 6-1/200, Baton Rouge, LA (Capitol HS). Another highly rated dual-threat quarterback. Bo Pelini's legacy in Baton Rouge is still fresh, so the Cornhuskers may just have a fighting chance at landing Broadway. In January, Broadway listed Nebraska in his Top 5. He also has an offer from Alabama.



A.J. Derby, 6-4/215, Iowa City, IA. Like the best athlete at your high school, A.J. Derby plays quarterback. Despite his strong arm (Rivals raved about him during the Army All-American combine), he could end up at tight end like his brother (who currently plays for Iowa) or linebacker or even safety on the other side of the ball. Derby attended the NU Junior Day, at which he received an offer. His dad also played for Iowa and the hometown team has to be considered the favorite.



Devin Gardner, 6-4/195, Inkster, MI. Another dual-threat from Michigan with a ton of Big 10 offers. Says that he is open to all offers, but grew up a Buckeye fan. Nebraska's offer is surely just a courtesy because there is no chance of getting this guy.



Austin Hinder, 6-5/180, Steamboat Springs, CO. Hinder, despite having the misfortune of sharing a surname with a shitty cockrock band, has a bright future. NU offered early, but is battling against offers from Cal, Stanford (don't laugh), Colorado and K-State (go ahead and laugh). His grandpa played at Cal and Boulder isn't far from his home.



Connor Wood, 6-4/210, Houston, TX (Second Baptist HS). Landing this recruit would be like the French marching on Berlin in 1942. NU is up against Mizzou, OU, Texas, TCU, Stanford, and Arizona. If this kid wants to stay close to home, he basically has his pick. However, NU has some good news on its side. Texas just got a commit from Colt McCoy's younger brother and NU is sending Shawn Watson back on the recruiting trail this year with an emphasis on the Houston area.



Running Back



James McConico, 6-0/188, Compton, CA. Through six games last year, the dude averaged 32.2 yards per carry. He had 15 touchdowns on 26 carries. Pretty much the definition of home run threat. McConico has a plethora of Pac-10 offers, so distance from home may become a factor in luring him out of California.



Lache Seastrunk, 5-10/184, Temple, TX. Arguably the top junior in the world. Has offers from everyone, including Mid-Plains. A complete and utter wish.



Wide Receiver



Markeith Ambles, 6-1/185, McDonough, GA (Henry County). Ambles holds offers from nearly every SEC school plus USC. Georgia is far from a Nebraska pipeline. Stealing this top WR would be a task, but with the Big XII's offensive prowess through the air lately, it's not completely ridiculous.



Ross Apo, 6-3/190, Arlington, TX (The Oakridge School). Nebraska was extremely fortunate to have Apo attend their Junior Day, establishing a foundation with the coaching staff that could pay dividends later on. Apo has been receiving attention from all of the usual Big XII suspects, but Tunnel Walk has a good feeling about NU's chances.

Offensive Line

Luke Joeckel, 6-6/280, Arlington, TX. Luke has a twin brother, Matt, who is regarded as a decent prospect as a QB. While Luke has a dozen offers, Matt has yet to get an offer, but don't be surprised if some school offers both in hopes of a combo package.

Chad Lindsay, 6-3/320, The Woodlands, TX. A guard prospect, Lindsay has offers from a ton of schools including most of the SEC and Big XII. Nebraska did a good job of recruiting the Houston area and that should only increase as the connections in the area solidify.

Andrew Rodriguez, 6-6/298, Aurora, NE. Originally from the slums of Shaolin, Rodriguez moved to Nebraska a couple of years back to live with his brother. After making a name for himself at last summer's Nebraska Football camp and this fall's high school playoffs, Rodriguez earned an offer from Nebraska and became the first commit of the 2010 class. He's been recognized by Rivals as one of their 250 recruits to watch for 2010.

Defensive Ends

Jordan Allen, 6-6/248, West Monroe, LA. Nebraska may benefit from Pelini's time in Louisiana with this prospect. LSU is the early leader and a strong favorite to land Allen.

J.R. "Ego" Ferguson, 6-4, 260, Frederick, MD (St. John's Catholic Prep). Normally landing a huge recruit from the East Coast has not been the easiest thing for NU. The signing of 4 star DE Jason Ankrah (also from Maryland) may change that. Ferguson is being recruited by John Papuchis, who is from the East Coast himself. If NU can score an official visit with Ferguson and pair him up with Ankrah (assuming he qualifies academically), there is a decent chance of gaining some recruiting momentum in this region.

Jackson Jeffcoat, 6-5/230, Plano, TX (West). Forget about it. 0.3% chance of getting him. Jeffcoat is the son of ex-NFLer Jim Jeffcoat and is a legitimate man already. If you're not a Top 25 program, you need not apply. Hopefully, Jeffcoat feels that NU is in that category. This guy is a gamechanger and will make some defensive coordinator very happy next February when he signs his LOI.

Linebacker

Justin McKay, 6-3/197, Shawnee, KS (Bishop Miege HS). The fact that Rivals has him listed as an OLB and Scout has him listed as a 5 star WR, hints at the athletic ability McKay has. Like many of the recruits NU is after at this point, McKay has offers from every top program. McKay's high school coach is Notre Dame alum and former K.C. Chief Tim Grunhard. That should give ND the early lead. However, Carl Pelini was also a high school coach in the KC area who still has some current connections.

That's it for now. If Nebraska can land 2-3 more of these recruits, a spot in the mythical Top 25 team recruiting ranking would be assured.

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