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Nebraska Football: Superlatives, grades for Huskers’ 2023 recruiting class



Now that the 2023 Nebraska football recruiting class is in the books, here are the final grades and superlatives.

Nebraska football wrapped up its 2023 recruiting class earlier this week and the Huskers have the 24th-ranked class according to the 247 sports composite rankings.

The Huskers signed 28 total and four of them are four-star prospects — Malachi Coleman, Cameron Lenhardt, Riley Van Poppel, and Princewill Umanmielen.

Matt Rhule signed a top-5 class and it includes the most in-state signees in a couple of decades. With seven additions since the early signing period, including five in the last week or so leading up to signing day.

The class still doesn’t have a quarterback and it’s not perfect. But, it’s a solid haul based on the situation, and here is a final grade, as well as superlatives for Nebraska football’s 2023 recruiting class.

Nebraska football 2023 recruiting class grade: A-

Rhule did a stellar job and signed six of the top 10 players in the state of Nebraska. Losing Benjamin Brahmer to Iowa State hurt but there is only so much you can do in what was a small recruiting window.

Nebraska football still added three of the top five players in the state. Getting a top-100 prospect in Malachi Coleman is huge and he’s a guy with legit first-round potential.

Rhule got six players total from the state of Texas and that’s something you can expect to continue going forward. The Huskers took chances on a lot of athletes and guys with a chance to significantly outplay their ranking. There will be misses but those misses will be on speed, as Rhule has talked about.

One miss in this class came at quarterback. By the time Rhule took over, the board was pretty diminished, so there isn’t much that could have been done. If Dylan Raiola commits to Nebraska, it won’t be a concern, but the Huskers need a quality quarterback in 2024 and maybe even two.

In normal years, nothing outside the top 15 would get the grade of an A, especially without a quarterback and just one running back in Kwinten Ives. It’s a good haul in the trenches, although there needs to be some four-star offensive lineman. Grading on a curve due to the Rhule hire, an A- seems fair all things considered.

Here are the superlatives.

Instant impact: Malachi Coleman 

The top-ranked player in the state of Nebraska didn’t enroll early but he showed plenty at the Polynesian Bowl. He sure looked ready to contribute right away next season. Not only is he physically ready for the Big Ten, but Nebraska also has an opening on the outside and I could easily see him starting next season from day one.

Biggest sleeper: Ismael Smith-Flores

This was a tough one because there are so many guys with huge upside in this class — Brice Turner, Jaylen Lloyd, Eric Fields, Mason Goldman, and others. However, Smith Flores is one of my favorites. He’s 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, and has just one year of high school football under his belt. He played some wide receiver in high school and if he can learn how to block too, he’s got a really bright future.

Best NFL future: Malachi Coleman

Princewill Umanmielen is another guy that has a really bright future. The truth is Nebraska has a bunch of guys with the raw talent to be NFL players if they can be developed. But Coleman has that and as we saw in the Polynesian Bowl, he’s pretty polished too. Matt Rhule has made a career of developing freak athletes into really good football players. Coleman is already a good football player and with his raw athleticism, it’s going to be fun to see what he can be molded into. He’s got definite first-round potential.

Biggest recruiting win: Malachi Coleman

Not to beat a dead horse, but Coleman was trending to Colorado until Matt Rhule turned things around. It was a huge victory for the Huskers, no doubt about it.

Biggest loss: Zane Flores

This wasn’t the fault of Matt Rhule but the one recruit that I think about more than any other in the 2023 class is Flores. The top-500 quarterback should have never been allowed to leave the state.

Future Nebraska football Fan favorite: Eric Fields

Fields would have been a good candidate for biggest sleeper in the 2023 recruiting class for Nebraska football, but Matt Rhule praised him so much, as have others, that I think the cat is out of the bag.

Fields played 5A football in Oklahoma and he’s a tackling machine. Eventually, I think Fields has the ability to be comparable to Lavonte David. That’s who he reminds me of. He can run sideline-to-sideline but he will need to bulk up to be effective in the Big Ten. He’s also not enrolling early so it could take him a minute to become a regular on defense.

However, I would expect him to get time on special teams and down the road, he’s going to be a tone-setter for Nebraska football on defense.

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More crystal ball projections for Nebraska Football ahead of big weekend



Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football has landed two more crystal ball projections ahead of a huge recruiting weekend for the Huskers.

There are going to be 26 recruits on campus this weekend visiting the Nebraska football program. Five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola is the headliner, along with a number of other top-100 recruits and the top-ranked player in the state of Nebraska Carter Nelson.

It’s one of the most impressive visit weekends for Nebraska football recruiting in a long time, maybe ever, but how many commitments are going to come this weekend if any?

I certainly wouldn’t expect a pledge from Raiola. As much as Nebraska football fans might want that, the top-ranked QB in the 2024 class just scheduled an official visit in June with Georgia, the defending national champs. This is on the heels of another visit to UGA, so the Huskers need to recapture some momentum.

The key objective with many recruits will be getting them back for an official visit. Gatlin Bair is a name that comes to mind since the kid is ranked 40th overall in the 2024 class via 247 sports. He’s visiting this weekend and if the Huskers got him back for an official visit in June, they’d have to feel good about their chances.

However, Nebraska football could land a couple of commitments this weekend. One candidate is three-star tight end Ian Flynt. He visited back in January, has family ties to Nebraska football, and just received another crystal ball projection for the Huskers. That’s four total for the No. 456 overall recruit in the 2024 class (247 composite).

A commitment might not happen this weekend, but I’d look for a commitment date coming soon out of this weekend. Flynt is out of Texas and so is three-star offensive lineman Gibson Pyle, who also received a crystal ball projection on Friday (Flynt did too).

Pyle is 735th overall and he teased an announcement a couple of weeks ago but it didn’t come. He’s got six crystal ball predictions for the Huskers and that’s another potential commitment to watch out for this weekend.

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Nebraska Football hosting elite tight end, 4-star EDGE to return



Nebraska Football
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Nebraska football recruiting buzz has been off the charts and another top-100 recruit is on campus today plus more on the Huskers.

Matt Rhule and the Nebraska football coaching staff have been doing a spectacular job on the recruiting trail. The Huskers are set to host 26 recruits this weekend and that number could grow.

However, those weren’t the only visitors for Nebraska football this week. On Monday, the first day of spring ball, the Huskers hosted a three-star offensive lineman and also Willis McGahee IV, a four-star EDGE.

McGahee is out of Miami, Florida and his dad, of course, was a legendary running back for the Hurricanes who also played for the Bills and Ravens in the NFL. The pedigree is there and the 6-foot-1, 225 pounder who is actually a three-star in the 247 sports composite rankings, is expected to return for the Nebraska football spring game.

McGahee is listed by 247 sports as a linebacker, but he’s an EDGE. He had 13 sacks as a junior and he’s got the kind of athleticism that Rhule loves. This is definitely heading in the right direction for the Huskers but Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and UCF are all set to get visits too and are in the mix.

Nebraska football hosting top 100 tight end

Rhule and the Huskers are trying to make the state of Missouri a bigger priority and so far, it’s worked pretty well. Nebraska football is making headway in the state, especially with one of the best Missouri prospects in the 2024 class in Jaden Reddell.

Reddell is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and out of Raymore, Missouri. He’s ranked 68th overall in the 247 sports composite rankings for the 2024 class and is fourth among tight ends, as well as a third-ranked player from the Show Me State. He’s also visiting Nebraska football on Thursday according to his Twitter account.

The On3 prediction machine currently gives the Missouri Tigers a slight advantage, but this will be the second trip for Reddell to the Nebraska football program. The next objective will be getting him back for an official visit in June.

That’s the same with McGahee. If he comes back for the spring game and then takes an official visit, you’d have to feel good about Nebraska’s chances. And while fans want commitments, visits are an important part of building the relationship that can lead to a commitment down the line.

As of now, Rhule and company are doing exactly what they should on the recruiting trail and it’s refreshing to see.

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Nebraska Football in good spot for 2024 WR Gatlin Bair



Nebraska football has been recruiting at a high level ever since the new coaching staff stepped on campus. They have made their recruiting priorities clear, and that includes 2024 Idaho wide receiver Gatlin Bair.

Bair is the ninth overall wide receiver in the 2024 class. The wide receiver is the top player in the state of Idaho, and has a 95 overall numerical ranking on 247DSorts. He has two schools in the lead for his recruitment in Michigan and Nebraska. Garret McGuire is taking care of Bair on Nebraska’s end, and it appears the coach is making a good impression.

Bair could give Nebraska a downfield weapon that spreads the field. This is something that Nebraska football wants in the program, as they are targeting playmakers that open up the offense. He has the size and speed to be a legitimate threat, at six-foot-two, 180 pounds. The Huskers have gotten several playmakers already in the offense. Bair would fit the bill, and make the wide receiver room even deeper.

Initially, he was one of the more under-recruited prospects, but now more programs are catching on. Even still, the wide receiver spoke highly of the Nebraska football program during a recent interview with the Omaha World-Herald. Bair is coming to Lincoln this weekend, along with several other prospects for the big Junior Day. He really likes the energy   surrounding the program, and the willingness of McGuire to learn as transcribed by Sam McKewon.

“There’s just an energy about the program,” Bair said Tuesday evening. “It just seems like every single person in the building really wants to turn that program around and get things rolling. I was really drawn to that, and what they’re trying to do.”

“I really like people who are open to learning,” Bair said of the 23-year-old McGuire, perhaps the youngest assistant in major college football. “I don’t like people who are set in their ways. I really enjoy the fact that he’s open to learning and progressing. That would allow me to progress with him at the same time, allow me to grow.”

It seems as though Nebraska football recruiting pitch has been very good to this point. Several fans were worried about McGuire’s age, but it seems as though that is not a problem for recruits. It certainly bodes well for Nebraska football that Bair thinks so highly of them. This could be extremely important heading into the upcoming weekend.

Nebraska football will not have a shortage of wide receivers, nor will they have a shortage of talent in the room. Bair’s recruitment and subsequent interest is proof of that.

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