Huskers Lose Lowest-Rated Recruit, Add Four-Star
For the second time in this recruiting cycle, Nebraska saw an under the radar defensive back commit go back on his word and pick another school. Chance Waz of Texas has opted for Baylor after giving a verbal pledge to NU. Thankfully, the Huskers followed up by getting another standout defensive line commitment from the junior college ranks that's been courted by Alabama in Joe Keels of Highland Community College in Kansas.
Given the choice between the defensive back or lineman, you'd take that lineman every time. The great arms race in college football is for standout defensive line talent. Husker fans saw how important Randy Gregory was this past season. Likewise, Ra'Shede Hageman played a huge role in the success of Minnesota this year. In fact, every team that placed a defensive lineman on the coaches' first or second-team all-conference list finished with a winning record. That's no coincidence. Conference champion Michigan State had a first team end, and runner-up Ohio State had two second-team players.
Keels can join the team in January and play three seasons. That should allow the Huskers to get him into the mix immediately. What shows up on his recruiting tape is both the ability to rush with power but also the speed and hustle to pursue plays laterally sideline to sideline. He's a versatile player that can stand up or even play inside. You see discipline where he breaks down to make sure he holds his position and makes the play. He plays through the whistle. It seems clear he'll punish teams that don't block well on the back side. A lot of his highlights came on zone read plays, which make him appear the kind of player you want facing dual-threat quarterbacks. Keels had previously committed to Wisconsin and chances are he'll continue to be pursued relentlessly by other schools up through signing day.
For those who like to see Nebraska climb in the recruiting rankings, the decommitment by Waz could actually be a positive. Other than kicker Drew Brown (a position that is always de-emphasized in recruiting rankings), he was the lowest rated recruit that NU had. He still had an offer to Colorado prior to the Huskers. Staying closer to home with Baylor now appears to be his plan.
With rumors swirling about Mack Brown retiring, you wonder if the door might be open for previous defensive back decommit Jason Hall to repledge to NU. Junior college safety Byerson Cockrell recently joined the mix at defensive back, which also softens the departure of Waz. Josh Keys, another big juco DB is also on the radar.
There are still a number of open positions in the recruiting class to fill and a lot work to hold those already committed. There's plenty more to come in the next 8 weeks when it comes to recruiting.