It’s that awkward time of the year where there is no more football until next fall. Rumors and buzz sporadically weave their way into the kool-aid of college football fans. Movements of new coaches and players are now the main focus of the sport until the game resumes.
On Feb. 1, the biggest event of the off season happened as National Signing Day popped up on our ESPN phone notifications. In a day where hundreds of high school students’ lives were changed, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln scored big with a highly-sought out and extremely talented 2017 class that ranks as the 21st best in the country by ESPN. After land-ing 20 prime candidates, here are the five most impactful new Huskers.
5. Keyshawn Johnson Jr. (WR)
Ignore his name and go look at this kid’s senior highlights. His hands are engulfed in glue and if the ball is ever thrown in his reach, the California native will come up with it. Mix in the fact that his thick body makes him a go-to option on third down.
Now, back to his name. Keyshawn Johnson Jr. Son of the former 20-year NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson senior. His name carries along fame, whether he’d like to admit it or not. His early commitment jump-started many other fellow four-star players to make the move to Nebraska. Though he may redshirt next year, his influence (and his father’s) on other recruits is what ranks him at number five.
4. Avery Roberts (LB)
With the recent hire of new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Nebraska will shift its defensive scheme to a 3-4 defense, meaning three defensive linemen and four linebackers. The Blackshirts sought Roberts out early considering that he is ranked as the seventh best linebacker in the country.
His big frame allows him to plow right through blockers. The Delaware native brings an intimidating swagger in his play– something that has been absent in Lincoln since the late 90s. In Diaco’s new defense, this could be the guy that comes up with a sack on a third and long blitz.
3. Elijah Blades (CB)
After decommitting from Florida, the California native found a home in Lincoln late on National Signing Day. Blades’ best attributes include his speed and size– the essentials of a great cornerback. The 33rd best cornerback in the country towers over most receivers he covers, which is a rarity but a huge advantage.
His former high school coach Antyone Sims told the World-Herald how Blades fills a leadership role.
“He’s a prototype size for his position,” Sims said. “He’s a laid back kind of guy, but on game days he gets fired up. He leads by example.”
2. Damion Daniels (DT)
Daniels is perhaps the most underrated player in this 2017 class and should make a quick impact in this 3-4 defense. The Texas native made an emotional decision to come to Nebraska due to the fact that the Huskers continued recruiting him when he wasn’t interested, and that Lincoln is the best place for him to grow.
“My family and I personally feel that the best place for me to grow as a man to God, grow into a better athlete and to provide a better future for me would be the University of Nebraska,” Daniels said.
He is a big steal for this class, and his 6-foot-3, 320-pound body has him as one of the biggest guys on the roster as a teenager. Expect Daniels to see a lot of snaps next year as a nose tackle with the ability to swallow any run within his radius.
1. Tyjon Lindsey (WR)
Lyndsey was a late addition to the recruiting class after he left Ohio State due to an injury. The Huskers quickly swooped in and added the No. 8 wide receiver in the country.
Lindsey’s play is different than normal wide receivers. His speed is his best asset, and having a small 5-foot-8, 165-pound body allows him to be crafty. The Las Vegas native is projected to be a starter as a true freshman.
Lindsey will compete with De’Mornay Pierson-El in returning punts due to his big-play caliber. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley praised Lindsey in his press conference following National Signing Day.
“I’m just glad we got him,” Riley said. “I like the guy. You’ll like his demeanor. He’s confident, not cocky. He’s really good. He’s dynamic. He loves football.”
Though football season seems like years away, it will approach us sooner than later. With a nationally ranked recruiting class, Nebraska is making all the right steps towards success for next year. Though maybe not all five will play every game, the fact that Nebraska even has this level of talent makes this past National Signing Day a win.