I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Bo's first recruiting class, not only as an indication of our staff's ability to evaluate talent but also as a way to evaluate and predict several key contributors to our 2010-2012 teams.
2008 Class Overview
28 total members = 2 from the junior college ranks (7%) and 26 from high school (93%)
Rivals team ranking = 30th
Scout team ranking = 21st
ESPN team ranking = 22nd
Rivals average stars = 2.96
Scout average stars = 2.86
The following is a breakdown of class members by category. I will include Rivals ratings and quality BCS school offers (i.e. no Indiana or Iowa State):
Stars: 2 (7%)
Alfonzo Dennard - 3* (5.7) - Clemson, North Carolina - 9 career starts
Notes: While Prince received all of the accolades and media attention, Dennard was nearly as good in 2009. Despite playing most of the year with a shoulder injury, he still managed 8 pass break ups and 31 tackles. Stats don't tell the whole story though, as there were games where his blanket coverage relegated Dennard to ghost status - he simply wasn't seen or talked about because the opposing QB rarely tried to throw to Alfonzo's guy.
Future prospects: Dennard is a 1st team all-conference caliber corner. He will have NFL opportunities after this season, I just hope that he opts to stay one more year. He and Prince have a chance to be the best cornerback tandem to ever play at Nebraska.
Ricky Henry - 3* (5.5) - Colorado - 14 career starts, 2009 AP all-Big XII honorable mention
Notes: There weren't too many bright spots on our injury-plagued 2009 o-line, but Henry shined. Despite being bothered by nagging injuries himself, Henry's play just got better and better as the season progressed. No other offensive lineman put opposing defensive linemen on the turf more often than Henry last year.
Future prospects: Henry is the primary reason why I think that we will run to the right quite a bit this year. If he can stay healthy, I think he will emerge as one of the premier guards in the conference and will be NFL bound after he graduates.
Starters: 2 (7%)
Will Compton - 4* (5.8 ) - Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Notre Dame - 8 career starts
Notes: Will looked a little lost and was slow to react in many instances early last season. By the end, he was a more competent linebacker despite seeing limited playing time due to the emergence of Dillard and the dime package.
Future prospects: While he won't ever have the physical tools of a guy like Eric Martin, Will's intelligence and knowledge of the system will serve him well. I think he has a chance of moving up to "Star" status by the time his career is done, and he will be sorely missed while he nurses a foot injury during the early part of the 2010 season.
Sean Fisher - 3* (5.7) - Arizona State, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin - 6 career starts
Notes: I could probably copy Compton's notes, paste them here and be mostly accurate. Sean had a good game against Virginia Tech last year, showing flashes of why the coaches have raved about him for two offseasons in a row. His broken leg is the most devastating injury of fall camp.
Future prospects: Perhaps I've been buying what the coaches have been selling or perhaps it is because I always root for native sons, but I think Fisher has an incredible amount of potential. He needs to improve his tackling ability, and his issues with maintaining weight combined with his unnatural height for the position almost insure that he will never be the same kind of 'backer as Dillard or Stew Bradley. Still, I think he has a better chance of being a star than Compton.
Major Contributors: 7 (25%)
Khiry Cooper - 3* (5.5) - Arkansas, Michigan - 4 career starts
Notes: Despite missing all of spring ball, Cooper still established himself as the #4 receiver with 13 catches last year. While it doesn't appear he will crack the starting lineup in 2010, I think he will contiue to be the first guy off the bench.
Future prospects: We would all love for Khiry to quit baseball and concentrate on football, but I think he can still establish himself as a starter even if he doesn't. He has shown that he has good hands and can run precise routes, he just needs to be more consistent.
Ben Cotton - 3* (5.7) - Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin - 1 career start
Notes: Cotton appeared in all 14 games last year. He came on strong late last year, hauling in 3 of his 5 catches and his only TD reception against Colorado. Ben is the most complete tight-end on the roster.
Future prospects: For the coaches to move McNeill to the adjuster position, they must really like what they see in Ben and Kyler. While he doesn't have the big play ability of Herian or the amazing hands of McNeill, I think Ben has the chance to be a star.
Tim Marlowe - 2* (5.1) - No other offers - 14 appearances
Notes: Tim averaged 23.7 yards per kick return last year. I don't know what the minimum number of returns is to be listed among the conference leaders (Tim's 12 does not meet the minimum), but that average was good enough for 5th in the Big XII in 2009.
Future prospects: Tim is the lowest rated recruit that Nebraska has signed in recent memory. The fact that he saw the field at all last year probably comes as a miracle to some. I'm not sure that Tim will ever crack the two deep at wide receiver; but his speed, ball handling ability, and vision demonstrated in 2009 make me think that he will be a fixture on the kick return unit for the next several years.
Cameron Meredith - 3* (5.7) - Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington - 14 appearances
Notes: Cam had 21 tackles, 5 TFL, and 1.5 sacks last year. Pretty impressive numbers for his limited backup time. He has cemented himself as the bookend opposite Pierre Allen in 2010. Oh, and his mom is kind of hot.
Future prospects: My only question is - Who will have more sacks, Cam or the Camstache? I am as high on Meredith as any other prospect from 2008. Jason Peter has stated that Meredith reminds him of Wistrom. Now I'm not under the impression that Peter thinks Cam is Grant reincarnated, but they both have similar traits (like a non-stop motor). Along with Dennard, I think Meredith is the most likely to earn 1st team all-conference and possibly all-American honors.
Kyler Reed - 3* (5.6) - Colorado, Kansas, Missouri - 1 career start
Notes: Kyler appeared in 11 games last year, He had a reception in 6 of them. He has big play ability with uncanny speed for his size, he just needs to establish a more physical presence on the field. Looked good in the spring game.
Future prospects: Kyler has the chance to be a special athlete, but it doesn't seem like he's found his niche. He would be underutilized as an h-back, but doesn't fit the do-it-all mold of a tight-end like Ben Cotton does. I'm also not sure if he has the pass-catching ability to fill the adjuster role after McNeill leaves. I hope the coaches find a role to fit his unique skillset, as it would be a shame to waste his talent.
P.J. Smith - 3* (5.7) - Arkansas - 14 appearances
Notes: P.J. was a special teams demon last year, racking up 10 tackles on coverage. He also saw some time at safety, breaking up a pass against Arizona to help preserve the shutout.
Future prospects: I've heard conflicting reports on whether Smith or West will be the starting safety in the peso. Regardless of who starts, the other will come in as a safety in the dime and P.J. will see plenty of playing time. I know he didn't spend a lot of time at safety last year, but there didn't seem to be much of a drop off when he did come in. Considering that both of our safeties last year were all-conference, I think P.J. is a star in the making.
Baker Steinkuhler - 5* (6.1) - No offers - 13 appearances
Notes: The only 5 star Nebraska native in Rivals database, the expecations for Baker are high. Not only does Baker have to deal with that, but he also has to battle an auto-immune disease that attacks his joints. So, far, he's responded by racking up 17 tackles and 2 pass breakups in backup duty last year.
Future prospects: I'm not confident that Baker is going to be an impact player on the defensive side of the ball, but I'm not confident that he won't either. It will be hard to hold off Randle and Rome. Regardless, I think he will at least be a solid contributor throughout his career.
Minor Contributors: 8 (29%)
Antonio Bell - 2* (5.4) - West Virginia - appeared in 6 games
Notes: Bell had one catch last year for 3 yards, despite appearing in 6 games. He has moved over to DB and early reports are that he has performed well.
Future prospects: We haven't had a lot of luck with position changes in recent memory. Hopefully Antonio can establish himself as a starter or major contributor before his career is over. By all accounts, he didn't make the two deep coming out of fall camp, but he does have a redshirt available to get him more acclimated with his new position.
Collins Okafor - 3* (5.7) - Iowa, Kansas, Stanford - appeared in 1 game
Notes: Collins has a career 9 yard per carry average. Of course, he only has one career carry in mop-up duty. I'm actually surprised that he is still on the team after quitting for a day last year.
Future prospects: I will be surprised if Collins ever sees time on the field in a meaningful game situation.
Courtney Osborne - 3* (5.5) - Kansas - 6 appearances
Notes: Courtney's appearances have mainly been on special teams. He has one career tackle (against Texas).
Future prospects: While there is a lot of inexperience at safety, we are loaded at the position talent-wise. Osborne certainly has time to establish himself as a challenger for a starting spot, but I would guess that by the time his career is over he will only move up to "Major Contributor".
Steven Osborne - 3* (5.5) - Kansas - 2 appearances
Notes: Steven appeared in the Louisiana-Lafayette and Colorado games last year, but did not record a reception.
Future prospects: I haven't heard a thing about Steven from any of the practice notes that I have read or from anyone that I have spoken with that has attended practice. That usually isn't a good sign that he's going to be contributing any time soon.
Brandon Thompson - 3* (5.5) - Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Virginia - 3 appearances
Notes: Brandon saw limited time in mop up duty last year. After Barney gushed about how well he was doing in 2008, I think many Husker fans have been waiting for Brandon to emerge.
Future prospects: The light can come on at anytime, but Brandon's prospects for breaking into the starting lineup are really starting to dim. Not only is he being passed up by younger players, but one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in the nation will be arriving next year.
Mason Wald - 2* (5.1) - No quality offers - 13 appearances
Notes: I know many who absolutely loved Mason's high school film, but I was never enamored with him as a prospect. He did fill a vital special teams role in 2008 before he left the team (some say he was homesick, but I believe that he got in trouble in Lincoln).
Lester Ward - 2* (5.4) - Missouri, UCLA - 5 appearances
Notes: Lester was injured his senior year in high school, and it was thought that he was a real steal on the recruiting trail. Lester mostly appeared in mop up duty last year, but provided some needed depth when he had 7 of his 10 total carries in the Baylor game.
Future prospects: Lester is quickly becoming buried on the depth chart. Anything can happen, but I don't think he will ever compete for significant carries.
Josh Williams - 3* (5.7) - Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech - 3 appearances
Notes: Josh looked good last year, making 3 tackles in very limited playing time.
Future prospects: Josh came to Nebraska way underweight. Now that Dobson has him actually looking like a Nebraska defensive end, I expect Josh will see the field this year as the top backup for both starting ends. I also believe that he will be the favorite to replace Pierre Allen next year.
Non-Contributors: 9 (32%)
David Grant - 3* (5.6) - Texas Tech
Notes: While it isn't listed on Rivals, I remember thinking it was a foregone conclusion that Grant would bolt when A&M offered. I will remember Grant for sticking with his commitment to us, even though it didn't matter in the end when he became another academic casualty.
Tyson Hetzer - 3* (5.6) - Arizona State
Notes: Hetzer was overrated by Rivals. I am not an expert talent evaluator, but even I could tell that this offer was a major reach. Unfortunately I was right, and Tyson left the program after a year.
Micah Kreikemeier - 2* (5.2) - No other offers
Notes: Micah has had two surgeries in two years and hasn't seen the field.
Future prospects: Coming back from one knee surgery can be difficult, so I can't imagine how hard it would be to come back from two. I think Micah has the will and desire to overcome his setbacks, but I'm not sure that will be enough. I hope I'm wrong, but my best guess is that if he sees the field at all, it will be on special teams.
John Levorson - 3* (5.5) - No other BCS offers
Notes: John was an incredible athlete and had shown promise in his brief time with Nebraska. He decided that certain "recreational" activities were more important than football and left the team.
Justin Rogers - 3* (5.6) - Auburn, Clemson, UCLA
Notes: For some reason, I thought Rogers left because he was homesick. I haven't confirmed it is the same person, but it appears that Justin is now a cornerback commit for Texas Tech after spending a season at Arizona Western Community College.
Kody Spano - 3* (5.7) - Oklahoma State
Notes: By now, this kids knees must be held together by chewing gum and bailing wire.
Future prospects: I will be shocked if Kody ever contends for the starting QB position. It would be an awesome "feel good" story though.
Quentin Toailoa - 3* (5.5) - Arizona, Oregon State
Notes: Named to the all 3 star team by one Rivals writer as an underrated prospect, I think fans expected Quentin to challenge for a starting position on the d-line. Instead, the coaches moved him to the offensive line and Quentin dropped into obscurity before he left the team.
Alonzo Whaley - 3* (5.6) - Arizona State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
Notes: Alonzo has not seen any game action to date, although he was the leading tackler at the 2010 spring game.
Future prospects: Alonzo's status is one day away from vaulting up to major contributor. This is his chance to prove himself, and by all accounts he has a good chance to do just that. From everything I've heard, Whaley performs very well in scrimmages even if he isn't exactly a regular practice warrior.
David Whitmore - 4* (5.8 ) - Missouri, Oklahoma State
Notes: Many were surprised that David stuck by his commitment throughout the coaching change, and it is too bad that such a loyal commit didn't qualify. I believe he is playing for Iowa Western this year.