Best Walk-On Class in 30 Years?
Among the highlights of signing day was a comment Bo Pelini repeated from assistant Athletic Director Jeff Jamrog. Jamrog called the 2014 group the best walk-on class since 1983. Since Jamrog was part of that class, there may have been some bias in that statement which suggests this could be one of the best classes ever. Let's take a closer look.
Big running back Austin Rose was probably the star of the group and could have taken a lower division scholarship offer. Contrary to the smaller backs that Nebraska has been bringing in, Rose is built more like Imani Cross. He could develop into a short-yardage specialist or fullback and can be a nice complement to the more diminutive runners.
Nebraska routinely finds viable walk-ons at linebacker and there are four candidates in the group. One player comes from Michigan and when walk-ons travel from out of state you take notice. Many of the great walk-ons went that route. Ashland's Bo Kitrell could also compete at fullback, another position where walk-ons have traditionally competed.
A pair of tight ends and another defensive end are in the group and all go 6'4" or 6"5. They currently weigh 220 lbs. or less so there's work to do in the weight room and at the dinner table but those are three guys with the frame to contribute. Tight end is also one of those spots where walk-ons nearly always find ways to crack the depth chart.
A bigger defensive lineman (at 6'5" and 240) is also in this group and comes from New York State. Omaha Gross defensive lineman Noah Arneson goes 6'3" and 300. That's already the size of a starting nose tackle. Considering how hard to find players like that can be, he's certainly a great find.
On top of that, a trio offensive linemen that go 6'5" or 6'6" and 270 to 290 lbs are walking on. The scholarship class was already one of the best along the offensive line in the last dozen years. Now you add three guys with the size to be tackles or guards. If they're counting Colorado transfer Alex Lewis in this group, it would be almost unfair. He's probably as sure a recruit as there is on the board, scholarship or not.
The scholarship class was loaded with receivers and defensive backs. But the walk-ons are ready to join the mix. There's a big receiver and a small one. Could they be the next Todd Peterson and Brendan Holbein? A trio of defensive backs join the mix as well. With a coach like Charlton Warren from Air Force, you know he's able to develop the no-name guys.
Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done before this group can be held to the standards of past walk-on groups. Clearly, there's enough here to get Jamrog excited. Nebraska hasn't added 24 players for next year, they've added at least 42.