Huskers were finalists, but get shut out for four Army All-America recruits

Huskers were finalists, but get shut out for four Army All-America recruits
World-Herald News Service

Nebraska’s 2017 recruiting class had a shutout Saturday on national TV.

NU failed to land any of the four prospects at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl who had the Huskers among their final teams.

Recruiting analysts had expected at least one four-star recruit — Los Angeles Cathedral receiver Jamire Calvin — to pick Nebraska. But Calvin, announcing on NBC during the game, chose Oregon State, which finished 4-8 this season. Calvin joined another wideout Nebraska coveted, Isaiah Hodgins, who picked the Beavers over the Huskers.

Calvin’s voice quavered as he explained why he picked Oregon State — the former school of NU coach Mike Riley, who made a living out of turning smaller receivers like the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Calvin into stars.

“Originally, I had my mind set on another school, and then, in the past few days — just talking with everybody, to my dad, talking to God — I just had a heart change,” said Calvin, who added he wanted to play with his best friend, Arex Flemings, a Cathedral wideout who’s also committed to Oregon State.

In a separate interview, Calvin told 247Sports that Oregon State “has a tradition of what they use with smaller receivers” — a tradition established under Riley. OSU was 110th and 116th nationally in passing offense the last two seasons after coach Gary Andersen took over for Riley. NU was 87th and 33rd.

Three other top-100 national prospects — five-stars Foster Sarell and Darnay Holmes and four-star Chuck Filiaga — all picked schools other than Nebraska, as well.

Holmes, the Calabasas (Calif.) star who was teammates with NU signees Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Tristan Gebbia, picked UCLA. He had taken several visits to Nebraska over the last 18 months, but he ultimately stayed close to home. On NBC, Holmes said it was a “family decision.”

“College coaches may tell you things that may not be true or may be true, but you’ve always got to stay close to the family and always keep God first,” Holmes said.

Added Holmes’ dad, Darick: “We wanted to make sure he put it on for his city, Pasadena, and make his mark, so that’s what happened.”

Sarell, the nation’s consensus top offensive tackle, committed to Stanford. The Graham-Kapowsin (Wash.) native had praised Nebraska and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh throughout the process, but the Huskers missed out.

Stanford, Sarell said, was his dream school since he was in the seventh grade.

Filiaga, another offensive tackle who spent his senior year at Aledo, Texas, picked Michigan. He joined Sarell as one of NU’s top targets at offensive tackle.

Their decisions may be connected to Nebraska extending an offer to Lincoln East offensive lineman Chris Walker on Friday night. Walker was an All-Nebraska lineman who played both ways for the Spartans. He helped lead Lincoln East to the Class A playoff semifinals.

The news was first reported Friday by Husker Online, which noted Walker will take an official visit to NU on Jan. 20.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Walker is currently committed to Wyoming. East coach John Gingery said Wyoming has recruited Walker for two years.

“He’s the top guy on their board,” Gingery said.

Walker took in several Husker games this season. Gingery said NU coaches have had little to no contact with him over the last two years, so he’s not sure how much interest Nebraska had in Walker, who attended one of NU’s Friday Night Lights camps.

Gingery said Walker was the best lineman in the state.

“He never came off the field for us,” Gingery said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m fine, I don’t need the rest.’ He’s tough. Blue-collar. Hard worker.”

Nebraska was able to land Norfolk Catholic’s David Englehaupt just days before signing day last year, pulling him away from Wyoming.

The Cowboys currently have four commits from Nebraska — Walker, Omaha North defender Davon Wells-Ross, Gretna center Patrick Arnold and Kearney offensive tackle Rudy Stofer. Wyoming watched Walker and Stofer square off against each other when Lincoln East played at Kearney last season.

Walker has a two-star rating from the 247Sports composite and Scout, but is currently unrated by Rivals.

Earlier this week, Nebraska landed a commit from Bellevue West running back Jaylin Bradley, who is rated a two-star prospect by the 247Sports composite.

That’s a far cry from the players NU was trying to land Saturday. Nebraska had hoped to add to its “Calibraska” haul with Calvin, who long had Nebraska as the favorite. As it stands, the Huskers continue to have just two commits from the state where they have dedicated a lot of time and resources to recruiting. Nebraska even hired a defensive backs coach, Donte Williams, with specific Los Angeles ties to help close out this recruiting class and get a head start on 2018.

Now, with 15 commits in the class, Nebraska will have three official visit weekends — Jan. 14, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28 — to finish strong before the Feb. 1 signing day. The top remaining targets include three California prospects — five-star wideout Joseph Lewis and four-star defensive backs Greg Johnson and Deommodore Lenoir.

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