Nebraska’s 2020 team still has at least one game left on the schedule and could conceivably play two more times before the calendar flips to 2021.
A big chunk of the recruiting class that signed with Nebraska on Wednesday will be on campus before the nicks and bruises heal up and the soreness of the 2020 season subsides.
NU coach Scott Frost on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that 13 players in Nebraska’s class are expected to be midyear enrollees.
“The way high schools are right now with COVID, I might be ready to get out of there, too, I don’t know,” Frost said with a laugh. “I think for some, spring sports were a question mark and prom is probably a question mark and they’re probably tired of half-days in school and those types of things, but there’s just more and more of that happening, too."
By the Journal Star’s count, the midyear enrollees are: quarterback Heinrich Haarberg (Kearney), offensive linemen Teddy Prochazka (Elkhorn), Henry Lutovksy (Mount Pleasant, Iowa) and Branson Yager (Grantville, Utah); tight ends Thomas Fidone (Council Bluffs, Iowa) and James Carnie (Norris); running back Gabe Ervin (Buford, Georgia); wide receiver Latrell Neville (Missouri City, Texas); defensive lineman Ru’Quan Buckley (Grand Rapids, Michigan); linebackers Randolph Kpai (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and Seth Malcom (Tabor, Iowa); and defensive back Marques Buford (Cedar Hill, Texas); in addition to Northern Iowa graduate transfer linebacker Chris Kolarevic.
“Kids are ready to take the next step and move on. Kids that do early enroll get a chance to go through spring ball, get accustomed to college, get accustomed to the team, and that gives them a better opportunity to probably play early than if they showed up in June or July.”
The midyear enrollees will arrive on campus next month. Prochazka said Wednesday that offensive line coach Greg Austin told him to be ready to get his playbook and his weight training schedule by Wednesday night.
QB talk: Frost said he was impressed with Haarberg, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound quarterback from Kearney Catholic, the first time he watched him perform.
“Love his size. Love his arm strength and his overall athletic ability,” the coach said. “I think with some training he has a chance to be a really good — really good — quarterback for us. We have to add him to that group (of quarterbacks) and get to work with him.”
Of course, Frost starred as a quarterback at Wood River High School back in the day.
“We used to play Kearney Catholic all the time,” Frost said. “Back then, we used to beat them up pretty good. I think they’re getting the best of it now. A lot of it has to do with him.”
“He’s really committed to being good, and determined,” the coach added. “He has a ton of raw material to work with to make him a good player.”
Worth the wait: When asked about the in-state signees, Frost began the discussion with Omaha Westside defensive back Koby Bretz.
“I’m really excited about Koby Bretz,” the coach said of the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder. “Koby’s a kid we didn’t offer right away. Watching him his senior year, I thought he was about as good as any football player or safety we looked at. His size and athletic ability give him a chance to be really good.”
Bretz verbally committed to Nebraska in late August. He earned his first Power Five scholarship offer from Kansas State back in the middle of June. He also piled up offers from FBS schools such as Buffalo, Wyoming, Ohio, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio).
"Special relationship" with DL Buckley: The most recent addition to Nebraska’s class is Buckley, the defensive lineman from Michigan. He was one of the few players from further away that was able to visit campus before the pandemic, making it to a junior day in January.
Consistently since then, he’s said Nebraska coaches stayed in constant touch and he wasn’t kidding.
“I’ve developed a really special relationship with him,” Frost said Wednesday of Buckley. “I think he developed a special relationship with this place. We had to fight off a lot of people at the end to get him to sign.
“He’s just a great person, and he’s a big, great athlete, too.”
Those suitors included in-state Michigan State, a top-10 program in Cincinnati and Florida State
Versatile LB group could still grow: Nebraska missed out on some outside linebacker targets over the course of the 2021 cycle, but still has four linebackers in the group to work with.
NU could still add more, whether it’s a player like four-star Wynden Ho’ohuli (Mililani, Hawaii) or four-star Deonte Anderson (Fort Meade, Florida), both of whom could announce their college choices on Jan. 2, but Frost said he thinks the current group can help fill the gaps in, too.
NU got signatures from a couple of rangy players in Kpai (6-3, 200), Malcom (6-3, 200) and Mikai Gbayor (6-2, 220). Northern Iowa graduate transfer Kolarevic (6-1, 230) might be closer to a box linebacker, but he’s shown the ability to rush the passer at the FCS level, too.
“That’s one thing I really like about this linebacker group is I think all of them can probably play inside or outside linebacker for us,” Frost said. “Randy is super twitchy. When you watch him, he covers ground fast and he strikes on the move. He’s violent. Seth and him and all the other linebackers, Mikai, all the linebackers we recruited, I think they’re going to be capable of playing multiple positions for us.
“That’s going to be valuable and help them get on the field faster.”
2023 offer to a familiar name: The recruiting wheel never stops turning, and Nebraska offered it second in-state class of 2023 prospect in the past few days.
This time, it's legacy recruit Maverick Noonan, a talented young lineman for Elkhorn South.
Noonan, the son of former All-Big Eight selection and first-round NFL Draft pick Danny Noonan, is already listed at 6-5 and 210 pounds and played well as a sophomore for the Class A runner-ups.
He joins Lincoln Southeast defender Teitum Tuioti, the son of NU defensive line coach Tony Tuioti, as in-state players in the 2023 class that already have offers from the Huskers.