Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini has issued the following statement regarding secondary coach Marvin Sanders:
“Marvin Sanders has resigned his position on our coaching staff for personal and family reasons. Marvin has decided the most important thing for him at this time is to take a break from coaching and spend more time with his family.
“Marvin is an excellent football coach, and he has been a key part of our defensive success here at Nebraska. The success of his secondary on the field speaks for itself, and he has a great rapport with his players and other members of the staff.
“I am working toward finding a replacement for Coach Sanders, and we will have an announcement on that once the University hiring process is completed.”
Nebraska’s full list of signees and walk-ons is below and attached in PDF format.
2011 Nebraska Football Recruiting Class
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School/Junior College
Ameer Abdullah RB 5-9 180 Homewood, Ala. Homewood HS
Taariq Allen WR 6-3 190 Weston, Mass. The Rivers School
Mauro Bondi PK 6-0 190 Boca Raton, Fla. West Boca Raton HS
Joseph Carter DE 6-5 250 Jackson, S.C. Silver Bluff HS/Chaffey College
Daniel Davie WR 6-1 185 Beatrice, Neb. Beatrice HS
Aaron Green RB 5-11 190 San Antonio, Texas Madison HS
Charles Jackson DB 5-11 180 Spring, Texas Klein Collins HS
Ryan Klachko OL 6-4 285 Springfield, Ill. Sacred Heart-Griffin HS
Tyler Moore* OL 6-6 300 Clearwater, Fla. Countryside HS
Todd Peat Jr. DT 6-3 295 Tempe, Ariz. Corona Del Sol HS
Max Pirman LB 6-5 220 Orrville, Ohio Orrville HS
Givens Price OL 6-4 275 Houston, Texas Alief Taylor HS
Ryne Reeves OL 6-3 295 Crete, Neb. Crete HS
David Santos LB 6-0 200 Spring, Texas Klein Collins HS
David Sutton TE 6-3 250 Lincoln, Neb. Southeast HS
Daimion Stafford DB 6-1 210 Norco, Calif. Norco HS/Chaffey College
Bubba Starling QB 6-5 195 Gardner, Kan. Gardner Edgerton HS
Zach Sterup OL 6-8 265 Hastings, Neb. Hastings St. Cecilia HS
Jamal Turner* QB 6-1 175 Arlington, Texas Sam Houston HS
Kevin Williams* DT 6-2 275 Holland, Ohio Springfield HS
*-enrolled at Nebraska in January
The Class Breakdown:
Total: 20; Freshmen: 18; Junior College Transfers: 2
By State: Texas (5): Green (San Antonio); Jackson (Spring); Price (Houston); Santos (Spring); Turner (Arlington); Nebraska (4): Davie (Beatrice); Reeves (Crete); Sterup (Hastings); Sutton (Lincoln); Florida (2): Bondi (Boca Raton); Moore (Clearwater); Ohio (2): Pirman (Orrville); Williams (Holland); Alabama (1): Abdullah (Homewood); Arizona (1): Peat Jr. (Tempe); California (1): Stafford (Norco); Illinois (1): Klachko (Springfield); Kansas (1): Starling (Gardner); Massachusetts (1): Allen (Weston); South Carolina (1): Carter (Jackson).
By Position (First Position Listed):
Offense (12): QB-Starling, Turner; RB-Abdullah, Green; WR-Allen, Davie; TE-Sutton; OL-Klachko, Moore, Price, Reeves, Sterup
Defense (7): DL-Carter, Peat Jr., Pirman, Williams; LB-Santos; DB-Jackson, Stafford
Kicker (1): Bondi
Nebraska has secured commitments from 15 prospects who plan to join the program as walk-ons for the 2011 season. Per NCAA rules, Nebraska is able to announce 11 of those individuals as of Feb. 2.
Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
Tyson Broekemeier QB 6-1 180 Aurora, Neb. Aurora HS
Sam Burtch WR 6-3 175 Elmwood, Neb. Elmwood-Murdock HS
Jack Gangwish LB 6-2 215 Wood River, Neb. Wood River HS
Aaron Hayes OL 6-3 265 Elkhorn, Neb. Elkhorn HS
Adam Kucera OL 6-6 285 Litchfield, Neb. Litchfield HS
Murat Kuzu RB 5-11 190 Plano, Texas Plano Senior HS
Anthony Ridder LB 6-2 195 West Point, Neb. West Point Central Catholic HS
Eddie Ridder TE/DE 6-6 225 Elkhorn, Neb. Mount Michael Benedictine HS
Will Sailors OL 6-3 260 Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Northeast HS
Derek Slaughter LB 5-11 200 Pelham, Ala. Pelham HS
Richard Wynne Jr. RB 5-9 175 Omaha, Neb. Creighton Prep HS
5-9, 180, RB, Homewood, Ala. (Homewood HS)
Ameer Abdullah is a versatile athlete from Alabama who is expected to join the Huskers as a running back. The 5-9, 180-pound Abdullah used his breakaway speed to be a running and receiving threat for Homewood High and Coach Dickey Wright. Abdullah rushed for 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 33 passes for 515 yards during his senior season. He also scored four touchdowns as a punt return specialist. His play helped Homewood to a 6-4 record in the Alabama Class 6A ranks. Abdullah was named the south region player of the year by the Birmingham News and also scored the winning touchdown in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic in December. He also was selected to participate in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, where he impressed with his ability as a defensive back. During his junior season, Abdullah rushed for better than 1,000 yards and had 24 receptions for more than 200 yards. Rivals.com ranks Abdullah as one of the top 20 “athlete” prospects in the country and one of the top 10 players in the state of Alabama. Scout.com also ranks him as one of the nation’s top 60 running backs. Abdullah chose Nebraska after also visiting Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and he had a host of offers including USC, Texas A&M and South Carolina to name a few. Ameer is the son of Kareem and Aisha Abdullah, and he was born on June 13, 1993.
6-3, 190, WR, Weston, Mass. (Rivers School)
Taariq Allen is the one of two wide receivers in Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class. The 6-3, 190-pound Allen comes to Nebraska from Rivers School in Weston, Mass., and is the first Husker signee from Massachusetts since Grant Miller in 2002. Allen was a key factor in 2010 for Rivers School, which finished at 8-1. The school’s only loss came in the Norm Walker Bowl, which determined the independent school state champion. Allen had 36 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns, and also had 69 carries for 706 yards and eight touchdowns. Allen also played defensive back and totaled 60 tackles, four interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery. Allen earned first-team All-New England accolades and first-team all-league honors as a junior after recording more than 600 receiving yards and better than 500 yards on the ground, while combining for 15 touchdowns. He also had two interceptions and two fumbles caused on defense. Allen has also been a standout on the basketball court for The Rivers School. Allen is rated as the fifth-best prospect in the state of Massachusetts by Rivals.com, and is among the top 10 recruits in New England according to SuperPrep. Allen only visited Nebraska, but also had offers from Connecticut, Wisconsin and Tulane. Allen is the son of Fred and Christy Allen, and was born on July 26, 1992.
6-0, 190, PK, Boca Raton, Fla. (West Boca Raton HS)
Mauro Bondi was one of the final pieces of the 2011 Nebraska recruiting class, committing to the Huskers in the final days leading up the Signing day. Bondi is a talented kicker who showcased his ability to handling place-kicking, punting and kickoff chores during his prep career at West Boca Raton (Fla.) High School. As a senior, Bondi connected on 7-of-11 field goals with a long of 44 yards for Coach Willie Dodaro. The 6-0, 190-pound Bondi showed his leg strength by booting 45 of his 55 kickoff attempts for touchbacks. He also punted for West Boca Raton and averaged 43.2 yards per attempt. During his junior season, Bondi hit on 13-of-19 field goals, with a long of 51 yards, drilled 47 kickoffs for touchbacks, and also averaged better than 43 yards per punt. Bondi finished fourth in the kickoff competition at the 2010 Kohl’s Scholarship Camp. Bondi is ranked among the nation’s top 10 place-kickers by ESPN. He also had a scholarship offer from Wake Forest. Bondi is the son of Bruno and Connie Bondi and was born on Dec. 18, 1992.
6-5, 250, DE, Jackson, S.C. (Chaffey College/Silver Bluff HS)
Defensive end prospect Joseph Carter is one of two signees joining the Nebraska program from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The 6-5, 250-pound Carter will have three years to complete two seasons of eligibility at Nebraska. Carter and teammate Daimion Stafford helped the Panthers to a 6-5 record and a berth in the Western State Bowl in 2010. Carter racked up 73 total tackles, including 17 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, six quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery for Coach Carl Beach. Carter first starred for Chaffey in 2009, when he recored 38 tackles and 10 tackles for loss from his defensive end position. Carter went to Chaffey CC from Silver Bluff High School in Aiken, S.C., where he was a defensive standout. Carter is ranked among the top 40 overall junior college prospects by both Rivals.com and SuperPrep Magazine. Carter was born on June 13, 1990, and is the son of Shiretta Carter. He chose Nebraska over offers from Arizona and Rutgers.
6-1, 185, WR, Beatrice, Neb. (Beatrice HS)
Versatile athlete Daniel Davie is one of four in-state products in Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class. The Beatrice High School star excelled as a running back, defensive back and a special teams standout in high school, and could play a number of positions at Nebraska. The 6-1, 185-pound Davie racked up big numbers at running back, rushing for 1,556 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. Davie helped the Orangemen and coach Bob Sexton to a 6-5 record, and capped his senior season with a 265-yard rushing performance against Holdrege in the Class B playoffs. Davie also had more than 200 receiving yards, while adding 35 tackles and an interception on defense. He also averaged nearly 30 yards per kickoff return. Davie’s play earned him numerous honors as a senior. Davie was selected to the offensive squad on the Lincoln Journal Star’s Super State team (athlete) and the Omaha World-Herald’s All-Nebraska squad (back). Davie earned first-team Class B honors from both newspapers as a running back. Davie is regarded as one of the top three prospects in the state of Nebraska by Rivals.com and among the top 35 prospects in the Midlands Region according to SuperPrep magazine. In addition to his football success, Davie made a huge impression in his first year on the track in 2010. Davie won the all-class gold in both the 100 and 200 meters at the Nebraska state track meet. Davie recorded a 10.73 time in the 100 and a 21.95 time in the 200 to win both events. Davie committed to Nebraska last June and only visited Lincoln, but he also received numerous offers including Kansas and Ohio. Davie is the son of Damon and Ruthanne Davie, and he was born on Aug. 4, 1992.
5-11, 190, RB, San Antonio, Texas (Madison HS)
Running back Aaron Green joins the Nebraska program from Madison High School in Houston, and the 5-11, 190-pounder is regarded as one of the top running back prospects in the country. Green is the brother of Nebraska sophomore defensive back Andrew Green. Aaron Green is one of five signees from the state of Texas in the 2011 class, as Nebraska continues to have outstanding recruiting success in the Lone Star State. Over the past three seasons, Green has amassed nearly 5,000 rushing yards for Coach Jim Streety. As a senior, Green rushed for 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns on 240 carries. His play helped Madison to a 7-4 record and a trip to the Class 5A state playoffs. Green was an honorable-mention all-state pick by the Associated Press for his efforts. Green also posted huge numbers during his sophomore and junior seasons. In 2009, he rushed for better than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 151 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. His play as a junior earned Green honorable-mention all-state honors and helped his team to the state playoffs. Green first showed his explosiveness for Madison as a sophomore, when he rushed for 2,024 yards and 27 touchdowns and also caught 16 passes for better than 200 yards and two touchdowns. Green was one of several Nebraska recruits to take part in the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio in January. Green is ranked as the No. 11 overall prospect in the country by ESPN, while Rivals.com ranks him among the top 70 players in the nation and both Rivals and Scout.com list him among the nation’s top 10 running backs. He is also mentioned as one of the top 10 prospects in the state of Texas by Rivals. Green was offered by nearly every school in the country, but his only other official visit was to Florida State. Green is the son of Tony and Charlar Green and he was born on Oct. 15, 1992. Green’s father played collegiately at Baylor from 1975 to 1978. His uncle, Gary, also played at Baylor and went on to nine seasons in the NFL as a cornerback, and was selected to four Pro Bowls.
5-11, 180, DB, Spring, Texas (Klein Collins HS)
Charles Jackson comes to Nebraska after establishing himself as one of the top secondary prospects in the state of Texas. The 5-11, 180-pound Jackson was a key performer for Coach Drew Svoboda at Collins High School in Klein, Texas. He is one of two NU signees from Collins High, joining linebacker David Santos, and one of five prospects from Texas in the 2011 class. Jackson’s play helped the team to an 11-1 record and district championship, before a loss in the second round of the state playoffs. Jackson recorded 73 total tackles, including 50 solo stops in his senior season. The aggressive corner also had three interceptions and five pass breakups in 2010. Jackson earned first-team all-district honors for his effort during his senior season. Jackson was also a key performer for the Tigers as a junior, racking up 75 tackles and five interceptions on his way to second-team all-district honors. Jackson was one of several Husker signees to participate in the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio in January. Jackson is regarded as the second-best cornerback prospect in the country by Scout.com, while Rivals ranks him among the top 10 corners in the country, the 13th-best overall prospect in Texas and the No. 100 overall player in the country. He also ranks among SuperPrep’s top 30 players in the state of Texas and is rated just outside of the top 100 prospects in the nation by ESPN. Jackson received dozens of offers, and also visited Arkansas and Oklahoma, before choosing Nebraska. He was born on Aug. 16, 1992, and is the son of Yolanda Jackson. His stepfater is Rick Parker.
6-4, 285, OL, Springfield, Ill. (Sacred Heart-Griffin HS)
Illinois product Ryan Klachko is a key part of an impressive group of offensive linemen in Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class. The 6-4, 285-pound Klachko is one of five players in the group expected to begin their Nebraska career on the offensive line. Klachko was a standout for Coach Ken Leonard at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Ill. As a senior, Klachko helped his team an 8-2 record and a trip to the Class 5A state playoffs. The tenacious blocking of Klachko helped a potent offense average 44.6 points per game. Klackhko was honored for his efforts being chosen to the Chicago Tribune’s all-state team and earning All Central State Eight Conference honors. As a junior, Klachko’s play helped Sacred Heart Griffin to a perfect regular season and an 11-1 overall record and a trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals. Klachko is ranked among the top 15 offensive guards in the country by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals.com also lists him among the top 10 players in the state of Illinois and among the top 250 overall prospects in the nation. Klachko committed to Nebraska last April, and did not take any other visits, but had dozens of offers including Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and Arizona to name a few. Klachko is the son of Michael and Paula Klachko, and he was born on May 25, 1993. Klachko was born in Boston before his family moved to Illinois when he was 12 years old.
6-6, 300, OL, Clearwater, Fla. (Countryside HS)
Tyler Moore is a key part of a strong group of offensive line prospects in the Huskers’ 2011 recruiting class. The 6-6, 300-pound Moore joins the Nebraska program from Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla. Moore is one of two signees from Florida, giving Nebraska at least one signee from the Sunshine State in nine of the past 10 years. Moore enrolled at Nebraska in January, one of three members of the 2011 class to join the Huskers at semester. Moore is regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects in the country after helping his team to a 12-1 record in 2010, and a trip to the regional finals. The Cougar offense rushed for better than 2,900 yards and 45 rushing touchdowns behind Moore’s powerful blocking. As a junior, Moore helped Countryside to an 11-2 record and the offense also produced strong rushing numbers with better than 225 yards per game on the ground. Moore was chosen as a Class 5A all-state pick during his junior season. Moore was a three-year starter at Countryside, first breaking into the lineup in the season opener of his sophomore year. Following his senior season, Moore played for the East team in the U.S. Army All-Star game in San Antonio. Moore is ranked among the top 100 overall prospects in the nation according to Rivals.com and among the top 15 players in Florida by both Rivals and Super Prep Magazine. Both of those services also rank Moore among the top 10 offensive linemen in the nation. Moore committed to the Huskers during his junior season and did not take any other visits, but did receive dozens of offers, including Florida, Ohio State and Stanford. Moore was born on Jan. 3, 1993, and is the son of Brian Moore and Kim Sorenson. Moore’s father, Brian, played tight end for the Huskers in the 1980s, earning a letter in 1985. Tyler is the cousin of former NU defensive end Jay Moore (2002-06).
Todd Peat Jr.
6-3, 295, DT, Tempe, Ariz. (Corona Del Sol HS)
Todd Peat Jr. was one of the final pieces to Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class, committing to the Huskers in the final week leading up to Signing Day. The 6-3, 295-pound Peat is regarded as one of the nation’s top defensive tackles, after a standout prep career at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz. Peat finished his senior season with more than 60 tackles while anchoring the team’s defense. For his play, Peat was a first-team all-region selection and second-team Class 5A all-state pick. Peat first earned all-region and second-team all-state accolades during his junior season when he recorded 31 total tackles and a pair of sacks. He was also a dominant performer in 2008 as a sophomore with better than 65 tackles, including 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Peat was one of several Nebraska signees to participate in the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio in January. He is ranked among the top 10 players in the state of Arizona by both SuperPrep Magazine and Rivals.com. Rivals also lists him among the top 200 overall prospects in the nation and as one of the top 20 defensive tackles in the country. Peat also visited Arizona State and Oregon State and had offers from Alabama, Miami, Stanford and Arizona among others. Peat Jr. is the son of Todd Sr. and Jana Peat and he was born on Sept. 27, 1992. Peat’s father played collegiately at Northern Illinois and went on to play six seasons in the National Football League as an offensive guard. He played three seasons with the Cardinals and three with the Raiders, making 36 career starts.
6-5, 220, DE, Orrville, Ohio (Orrville HS)
Max Pirman is one of two Ohio standouts in the Huskers’ 2011 signing class, joining defensive tackle Kevin Williams. The 6-5, 220-pound Pirman is a talented prospect who is expected to begin his NU career at defensive end. Despite battling injuries throughout his senior season, Pirman had seven sacks for Orrville High School and Coach Doug DaVault. Pirman’s play helped his school to a 10-4 record and a trip to the Division IV state semifinals. During Pirman’s junior season in 2009, Orrville posted a 9-4 record and advanced to the regional finals. Pirman also battled injuries during his junior season, but was among the team defensive leaders during the state playoffs. Pirman originally committed to Indiana, but switched to Nebraska in the fall after visiting for the Kansas game. In addition to the Hoosiers, Pirman also had numerous other offers, including Kansas and Ohio. Pirman is regarded as one of the top 40 prospects in Ohio by Rivals.com, and among the top 60 outside linebacker prospects nationally by both Rivals and ESPN, while SuperPrep ranks him among the top 125 players in the Midwest region. Pirman was born on April 5, 1992, and is the son of Terry and Lynette Pirman.
6-4, 275, OL, Houston, Texas (Alief Taylor HS)
Houston product Givens Price is part of an impressive group of offensive line prospects in Nebraska’s 2011 signing class. The 6-4, 275-pound Price is one of five signees on the offensive line and also one of five 2011 recruits from the state of Texas. Price helped Coach J.D. Jordan and Alief Taylor High to a 10-2 record and a trip to the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs this past season. Price’s play was a key part of an explosive offense that averaged 39.6 points per game and topped the 40-point barrier seven times during the 2010 season. For his play, Price earned second-team Class 5A all-state honors. Price also stood out during his junior season, helping the team to a 9-4 record and a trip to the third round of the 5A playoffs. Price is regarded as one of the top 70 offensive guard prospects in the country by both Scout and ESPN. Price only visited Nebraska, but also had offers from Baylor, Rice and UTEP. Price is one of the youngest signees ever for Nebraska, as he will not celebrate his 17th birthday until Oct. 3, 2011. Price is the son of Edithmary Price.
6-3, 295, OL, Crete, Neb. (Crete HS)
Ryne Reeves is one of four in-state prospects in Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class and part of an impressive group of offensive linemen set to join the Husker program. The 6-3, 295-pound Reeves was a key figure in a Class B state championship season for Crete High School in 2010. Reeves helped Coach Chuck McGinnis’ team rack up more than 3,900 rushing yards en route to a perfect 13-0 record. In addition to his dominant lead blocking, Reeves was also a force on the defensive side, recording 73 tackles and two tackles for loss from his tackle spot. He also forced a fumble in the Class B state title game, a 34-0 victory over Elkhorn. Reeves was honored for his effort as a Super State selection by the Lincoln Journal Star, and a All-Nebraska pick by the Omaha World-Herald. Reeves was also named the honorary captain of the Class B all-state offensive unit by the Lincoln Journal Star. Reeves was also a first-team All-Nebraska pick as a junior in 2009. Reeves lined up at guard for the Cardinals, but was named to the Rivals.com All-America team as a center. He is regarded as one of the top five center prospects in the country by both Rivals and Scout.com, and Rivals lists him as the second-best prospect in the state of Nebraska. Super Prep Magazine also lists Reeves among the top five players in the Midlands region. Reeves was the first player to commit to the Huskers’ 2011 class, doing so in the summer before his junior season. Despite his early pledge to NU, Reeves received an offer from Stanford and interest from several other schools including Miami, USC and UCLA. Reeves was born on July 14, 1992, and is the son of John and Mary Ellen Reeves.
6-0, 200, LB, Spring, Texas (Klein Collins HS)
Linebacker David Santos is one of the top defensive prospects in the state of Texas and one of two players from Klein Collins High School in Nebraska’s 2011 class. The 6-0, 200-pound Santos joins teammate Charles Jackson in the Huskers’ signing class, and is one of five Texas natives to ink with Nebraska. Santos’ play helped Collins High to an 11-1 record and district championship, before a loss in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Santos’ play was a key part of the success of Coach Drew Svoboda’s team. Santos racked up 136 total tackles in 2010, including 86 solo stops. He also had 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and a pair of pass breakups. Santos earned District 13 Defensive MVP honors for his effort and was also the Houston Touchdown Club’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a first-team Class 5A all-state selection according to OldCoach.com. He participated in the Offense-Defense All-America Game in South Carolina following his strong senior season. Santos’ outstanding play was not limited to his senior season. In 2009, he made 107 total tackles, including 75 solo stops, 25 tackles for loss and had four sacks for a 12-1 team. Overall, Santos was a four-year letterwinner for the Tigers. Santos is ranked among the top 15 outside linebackers in the country by Rivals.com and among the top 40 linebackers by ESPN and Scout. Rivals.com also ranks him among the top 40 overall players in the state of Texas. Santos committed to Nebraska last summer and did not take any other visits, but had a host of offers, including Arkansas, Kansas and Utah to name a few. Santos was born on June 22, 1992, and is the son of Rosalind and David Santos Sr.
6-1, 210, DB, Norco, Calif. (Chaffey College/Norco HS)
Defensive back Daimion Stafford comes to Nebraska as one of the most highly sought-after prospects in the junior-college ranks. The 6-1, 210-pound Stafford starred at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. His teammate Joseph Carter also signed with the Huskers. Stafford will have three years to use two seasons of eligibility at Nebraska. Stafford helped lead Chaffey and Coach Carl Beach to a strong 2010 campaign by recording 62 total tackles, including 35 solo stops. He added three tackles for loss, five interceptions and six pass breakups. Stafford was also a dangerous return threat, averaging nearly 28 yards per kickoff return, including a 100-yard touchdown, and more than 15 yards per punt return. Stafford made 85 tackles and had four interceptions during his first season with the Panthers in 2009. He also starrred as a return threat in 2009. Chaffey is ranked among the top 20 overall junior college prospects by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, and among the top three JC defensive backs by both services. Stafford played his high school football at Norco High in California, where he was a standout for Coach Todd Gerhart, the father of Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart. Stafford went to school early in high school with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, who spent his freshman and sophomore years at Norco High. Stafford was widely recruited, turning down offers from USC, Florida and Iowa State among others. Stafford was born on Feb. 18, 1991, and he is the son of La Tanya Henderson.
6-5, 195, QB, Gardner, Kan. (Gardner Edgerton HS)
Bubba Starling is regarded as one of the top multi-sport high school athletes in the country and is one of two quarterbacks in Nebraska’s 2011 signing class. The 6-5, 195-pound Starling is one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation, and is also a standout in basketball and baseball at Gardner Edgerton High School in the Kansas City area. Starling is expected to play both football and baseball at Nebraska. Starling quarterbacked Coach Marvin Diener’s team to a 33-4 record during his three seasons as a starter. Overall, Starling accounted for more than 8,100 yards of total offense and 97 touchdowns in three seasons. In 2010, he led Gardner-Edgerton to an 11-1 record before a loss in the Class 5A state semifinals. Starling posted amazing rushing stats during his senior campaign, racking up 2,377 yards on 180 carries (13.2 ypc), while scoring 31 rushing touchdowns. He also passed for 790 yards and eight touchdowns. During his junior season Starling led his team to the Class 5A state finals. Starling rushed for 1,381 yards and 19 touchdowns during his junior year, while passing for 1,433 yards and 18 touchdowns against just six interceptions. In his first season as a starter in 2008, Starling ran for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns and threw for more than 1,100 yards and another 11 touchdowns, helping Gardner-Edgerton to the state semifinals. Starling has racked up a host of honors over the past few years. As a senior, he was the Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year and the winner of the prestigious Simone Award for the top player in the Kansas City area. He was also the offensive captain of the Kansas City Star’s All-Metro team, and a first-team Class 5A all-state pick. Starling was one of several Nebraska signees to participate in the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio in January. Starling was named as the Super Prep Magazine Midlands Region Offensive Player of the Year and that publication lists him as the No. 2 prospect in the Midlands Region. He is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in Kansas by Rivals.com, which also ranks him as the nation’s No. 6 “athlete” and the No. 119 player overall in the country. Scout.com and ESPN also rank him among the nation’s top 10 quarterback prospects. In baseball, Starling excels as a right-handed pitcher and outfielder and is currently Baseball America’s No. 1 high school prospect. Starling has hit better than .500 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI the past two seasons. Playing for Team USA (U-18) last summer, Starling hit .339 with three home runs, while throwing three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. For his effort he was named the Kansas City Metro Baseball Coaches Association small class Player of the Year. He is also a standout in basketball at Gardner-Edgerton. He helped the Blazers to a 20-5 record in 2009-10, and is again among the leading scorers and rebounders as a senior. Starling took his only visit to Nebraska and committed to the Huskers in June, but had offers from dozens of schools including Notre Dame, Alabama, Kansas and Kansas State. Starling is the son of Jim and Debbie Starling and was born on Aug. 3, 1992.
6-8, 265, OL, Hastings, Neb. (Hastings St. Cecilia HS)
Zach Sterup (pronounced Stair-up) is one of four players from the state of Nebraska in the Cornhuskers’ 2011 recruiting class. Sterup is also a key part of an impressive group of offensive line prospects joining the NU program. Sterup has been a standout performer for Coach Carl Tesmer at Hastings St. Cecilia High School, helping the Bluehawks to back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010. This past season, Sterup led an offensive line that paved the way for better than 3,500 rushing yards en route to a second straight 13-0 season. In addition to his dominant play on the offensive line, Sterup also saw time on defense and racked up 58 tackles and four sacks. Sterup was a first-team All-Nebraska pick by the Omaha World-Herald and a Super State selection according to the Lincoln Journal Star. He was also the honorary captain of the C-2 all-state team by both newspapers. Sterup also earned first-team defensive all-state honors in Class C-1 as a junior, helping St. Cecilia to a perfect campaign before they moved classes in 2010. Sterup is regarded as one of the top 30 offensive tackle prospects in the country by Rivals.com, which also lists him as the top player in the state of Nebraska. He is also regarded as one of the top 25 overall players in the Midlands Region by SuperPrep Magazine. At 6-8, Sterup is among the tallest Husker recruits ever, with 6-8 offensive tackle Tom Punt (1988-90) the tallest known football letterwinner in school history. Sterup is an outstanding athlete and uses his skills on the hardwood, where he is among the team leaders in scoring and rebounding and has helped the Bluehawks to a 12-5 record through the end of January. St. Cecilia has captured three straight Class C-1 basketball titles from 2008 to 2010. Sterup only visited Nebraska but had numerous other offers, including Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Stanford and UCLA. Sterup was born on May 14, 1992, and is the son of Doug Sterup and Mary Sterup-Walsh.
6-3, 250, TE, Lincoln, Neb. (Southeast HS)
Lincoln native David Sutton is one of four Nebraskans in the Huskers’ 2011 recruiting class. The 6-3, 250-pound Sutton starred on both sides of the ball for Coach John Larsen at Lincoln Southeast High School, helping the Knights to a 10-2 record and a trip to the Class A state semifinals. From his defensive end spot, Sutton recorded 105 tackles during his senior season, including 12 sacks. On offense, he caught 16 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns as a tight end. For his efforts, Sutton was a defensive first-team Super State pick by the Lincoln Journal Star and an All-Nebraska selection by the Omaha World-Herald. During his junior season, Sutton racked up 75 tackles and earned honorable-mention all-city honors from the Lincoln Journal Star, helping the Knights to the state quarterfinals. Sutton also visited Ohio and had an offer from South Dakota State. Sutton is the son of Mark and Jayne Sutton, and he was born on Jan. 13, 1993.
6-1, 175, QB, Arlington, Texas (Sam Houston HS)
Jamal Turner comes to Nebraska after a prolific high school career at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas. The 6-1, 175-pound Turner was one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks for Coach Danny Edelman, racking up more than 10,000 yards of total offense in three years as a starter. Turner is one of three members of the 2011 class who began classes at Nebraska in January. Turner is also one of five signees from Texas, as the Huskers continue to find talent in the Lone Star State. As a senior, Turner rushed for 1,888 yards on 267 carries and a remarkable 35 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, he completed better than 60 percent of his passes for 1,551 yards and eight touchdowns. His play as a senior earned Turner first-team All-DFW area selection by the Dallas Morning News as a utility player, and he was also an honorable-mention Class 5A all-state pick. Turner produced similar statistics during his junior season with 1,809 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, while averaging better than eight yards per carry. He also threw for better than 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns and earned second-team All-DFW area honors and second-team 5A all-state honors. Turner first stepped into the starting quarterback role as a sophomore and posted big passing numbers. He threw for 2,611 yards and 21 touchdowns, while also rushing for better than 400 yards and nine touchdowns. Turner was chosen to play in the Under Armour All-American game in Florida in January, and he showed his all-around ability by lining up at receiver in the game. ESPN ranks Turner among the top 50 overall prospects in the country and as the No. 6 “athlete” in the nation. Rivals.com ranks Turner among the top 140 players in the nation and the top 20 prospects in Texas, while placing him as the seventh-best dual-threat quarterback in the country. SuperPrep Magazine also ranks Turner among the top 20 prospects in Texas, while Scout.com lists him among the top 10 quarterback prospects. Turner only visited Nebraska, but had numerous offers including Missouri, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas A&M and USC. Turner is the son of the late Rusty Turner and Jeffery Turner and was born on Feb. 1, 1993.
6-2, 275, DL, Holland, Ohio (Springfield HS)
Kevin Williams is one of three members of Nebraska’s 2011 recruiting class who joined the Husker program for the spring semester. A standout defensive line prospect from Holland, Ohio, the 6-2, 275-pound Williams posted big numbers for Coach Vince Marrow and Springfield High School the past two seasons. Williams racked up more than 260 total tackles and 25 sacks in the past two seasons. As a senior, Williams had 111 tackles, including 36 solo stops and 10 sacks. His play earned Williams Division II co-defensive player-of-the-year honors in Ohio, and first-team All-Ohio accolades. During his junior season, Williams earned honorable-mention Division II all-state honors as he recoreded better than 150 tackles including 15 sacks and 15 other stops behind the line of scrimmage. Williams is regarded as one of the top 20 defensive tackles in the nation according to ESPN, and among the top 40 interior defensive linemen by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals.com ranks him among the top 20 players in the talent-rich state of Ohio, while SuperPrep magazine includes him as one of the top 60 players in the Midwest region. Williams committed to Nebraska in April of 2010, and did not take any other visits, but had offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Oregon, Illinois and Stanford to name a few. Williams is the son of Lisa and Mark Deel and he was born on May 8, 1993.
Nebraska has secured commitments from 15 prospects who plan to join the program as walk-ons for the 2011 season. Per NCAA rules, Nebraska is able to announce 11 of those individuals as of Feb. 2.
6-1, 180, QB, Aurora, Neb. (Aurora HS)
Tyson Broekemeier is regarded as one of the top prospects in the state of Nebraska after a prolific career at Aurora High School. Broekemeier guided Coach Randy Huebert’s Aurora squad to an appearance in the Class B state semifinals by piling up huge numbers at quarterback. Broekemeier completed better than 70 percent of his passes for 2,047 yards and 31 touchdowns, while throwing just three interceptions. On the ground, he rushed for 630 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a senior, Broekemeier was named the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year and he was also the honorary captain of the Lincoln Journal Star Super State offense and the Omaha World-Herald’s All-Nebraska team. Broekemeier also posted big numbers as a junior accounting for better than 2,400 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns. Broekemeier had scholarship offers from FCS schools South Dakota and North Dakota. Broekemeier’s older brother, Joe, was a senior receiver for the 2010 Huskers.
6-3, 175, WR, Elmwood, Neb. (Elmwood-Murdock HS)
Sam Burtch joins the Husker program as a receiver from Elmwood-Murdock High School, where he starred at receiver for Coach Leigh Schmale. Burtch earned first-team Class C-2 all-state honors from both the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald. Burtch caught 44 passes for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns to help his team to a 9-2 record and a trip to the Class C2 quarterfinals. The 2010 season marked the fourth straight year the school reached at least the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Burtch also caught eight touchdown passes as part of his 26 receptions as a junior. Burtch won the Class C 800 meters at the 2010 Nebraska state track meet and was second in the 400 meters. Burtch received recruiting interest from Northwest Missouri State and UNO.
6-2, 215, LB, Wood River, Neb. (Wood River HS)
Jack Gangwish will walk on at Nebraska, following in the footsteps of his father, Paul, who lettered for the Huskers as a walk-on in the 1980s. The younger Gangwish was a three-year starter for Wood River High School and Coach Derek Garfield. As a senior, the 6-2, 215-pound Gangwish made 103 tackles, four quarterback sacks and had two forced fumbles while recovering another. Gangwish earned honorable-mention Class C1 all-state honors for his play. Gangwish is also among the top-ranked wrestlers in the Class C 215-pound weight class. Paul Gangwish was a letterwinner at defensive end for Tom Osborne in 1985. Gangwish had a scholarship offer from Chadron State.
6-3, 265, OL, Elkhorn, Neb. (Elkhorn HS)
Aaron Hayes will join the Nebraska program as an offensive line prospect after a productive prep career at Elkhorn High School. The 6-3, 265-pound Hayes was an honorable-mention all-state performer by both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald. Hayes’ play helped Coach Mark Wortman’s Antlers post a 10-3 record and a Class B runner-up finish. Hayes was also a contributor as a junior when Elkhorn reached the Class A state semifinals. Hayes had interest from UNO and Augustana.
6-6, 285, OL, Litchfield, Neb. (Litchfield HS)
Adam Kucera is part of a strong group of offensive linemen who are set to join the Nebraska football program as walk-ons. The 6-6, 285-pound Kucera starred on both sides of the ball for Litchfield High and Coach Dan Boiling. Kucera lined up at center and nose guard, anchoring both of the team’s lines. Kucera has been selected to play in two eight-man all-star games. He is also a basketball standout leading his team in rebounding with averages of about 15 points and 11 rebounds per game. Kucera turned down a Chadron State scholarship offer.
5-11, 190, RB, Plano, Texas (Plano Senior HS)
Murat Kuzu will join the NU program as a walk-on after a strong prep career at Plano Senior High School, the same school that produced current NU running back Rex Burkhead. The 5-11, 190-pound Kuzu rushed for better than 600 yards and three touchdowns as a senior, and produced better than 400 receiving yards and five TD receptions, while also throwing for a touchdown. Kuzu was a second-team all-district selection for his efforts as a senior. Kuzu had a scholarship offer from Doane and interest from Southern Louisiana.
6-2, 195, LB, West Point, Neb. (West Point Central Catholic HS)
Anthony Ridder will join the NU football program as a walk-on linebacker, following in the footsteps of his father Dave Ridder. Anthony starred on both sides of the ball for his father at West Point Central Catholic, helping his team to the Class D-1 state title in the school’s first year of eight-man competition. As a quarterback, Ridder passed for more than 1,700 yards and 38 touchdowns, with just two interceptions. He also rushed for more than 800 yards and 20 touchdowns. Defensively, he led Central Catholic with 106 total tackles. He was the offensive honorary captain of the Class D-1 all-state team by both the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star. Dave Ridder also joined the NU program as a walk-on from West Point CC, and went on to be a three-year letterwinner as a defensive end. Anthony Ridder is joined in the 2011 class by his cousin, Eddie Ridder, from Elkhorn Mount Michael. Ridder had scholarship offers from UNO, Augustana and Wayne State.
6-6, 225, TE/DE, Elkhorn, Neb. (Mount Michael Benedictine)
Elkhorn Mount Michael product Eddie Ridder will continue a family tradition of being part of the Nebraska football program. The tight end-defensive end prospect is joined in the 2011 NU walk-on class by his cousin, Anthony, and Eddie’s father, Tom, also played for the Huskers in the 1970s. Eddie Ridder earned honorable-mention all-state honors for Coach Dave Plendl and the Knights for his production on both sides of the ball. He caught 24 passes for 289 yards on the offensive end, while logging 69 tackles and three sacks on defense. During his junior season, Ridder had 22 catches, including four touchdown grabs and added 34 tackles and six tackles for loss on defense. Ridder turned down Colorado School of the Mines and Wayne State.
6-3, 260, OL, Lincoln, Neb. (Northeast HS)
Lincoln Northeast produce Will Sailors will join the Nebraska program as a walk-on and is expected to begin his career on the offensive line. The 6-3, 260-pound Sailors helped Lincoln Northeast High School to a 7-4 record and a trip to the Class A state quarterfinals in 2010. Sailors lined up at offensive tackle for Coach Justin Smith and the Rockets. For his efforts, Sailors was a second-team Super State selection by the Lincoln Journal Star and a first-team Class A all-state pick by both the Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald. Sailors had drawn interest from Northwest Missouri State and UNO.
5-11, 200, LB, Pelham, Ala. (Pelham HS)
Derek Slaughter will join the Nebraska program as a walk-on linebacker. Slaughter was a standout at Pelham High School in Pelham, Ala., where he racked up more than 130 tackles during his senior season. The 5-11, 200-pound Slaughter also had two interceptions and the big hitter forced several fumbles. Slaughter had 128 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions in his junior season. He played cornerback as a sophomore. Slaughter grew up in David City until the fifth grade when his family moved to Alabama. Slaughter had interest from The Citadel and UAB.
Richard Wynne Jr.
5-9, 175, RB, Omaha, Neb. (Creighton Prep HS)
Richard Wynne Jr. had an outstanding career at Omaha Creighton Prep High School. Wynne racked up better than 1,600 rushing yards in 11 games for Coach Tom Jaworski, leading the Junior Jays to a 7-4 record and a Class A quarterfinal appearance. He is believed to be the first back from Creighton Prep to surpass 100 rushing yards in every game of a season. Wynne earned first-team Super State honors from the Lincoln Journal Star and first-team All-Nebraska accolades from the Omaha World-Herald for his efforts. Wynne had interest from Augustana, UNO and Northwest Missouri State.
The following is a statement from Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne regarding a licensing agreement with Corn Fed Apparel, Inc., whose founder and owner is Casey Martinez, the father of Taylor Martinez.
“The licensing relationship with Corn Fed began in the summer of 2007 before our football program had initiated any recruiting contact with Taylor and his family, or had any knowledge of Taylor as a prospective student-athlete. Corn Fed is a solid company which has demonstrated success in the apparel business, and has been a licensee not only of Nebraska, but several other schools around the country. There is nothing in the licensing agreement between the two parties that is in any way non-compliant with NCAA rules.
“We have recently learned that while Taylor Martinez has no ownership in Corn Fed Apparel, Inc., he is registered as the owner of the Corn Fed trademark, and also the CornFed.com domain name. Again, this arrangement does not violate any NCAA rules.
“However, because of the attention this agreement has caused, Casey Martinez recently initiated a conversation with Nebraska about ending the licensing relationship. Both parties agreed that it would be prudent to no longer have a licensing relationship between the University of Nebraska and Corn Fed. Both the Martinez family and the University of Nebraska feel this decision is best for all parties, and specifically in helping limit distractions for Taylor and the football program.”
Media Relations Director
University of Nebraska
One Memorial Stadium
Lincoln, NE 68588-0123
Former Husker standouts Ndamukong Suh and Carl Nicks were both selected to participate in the 2011 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced on Tuesday. Suh and Nicks are both on the NFC roster for the event, which will take place on Jan. 30 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Suh was the only rookie to be named a Pro Bowl starter and was one of only four rookies selected to either the AFC or NFC roster. Nicks was one of four offensive guards selected for the NFC team.
A rookie defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, Suh has made an immediate impact on the professional level after winning several major awards and being named the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year at Nebraska last fall. Suh, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, has put up impressive numbers for a defensive lineman while helping lead the Lions to their most victories in three seasons.
Suh has totaled 60 tackles and 9.0 sacks in his rookie year. His 9.0 sacks lead all NFL defensive linemen and all NFL rookies. The sack total also ties him for third in the NFL in all-time sacks by a rookie defensive tackle. His 60 tackles also rank eighth among all NFL defensive linemen. Suh is the first Lions’ defensive rookie to be selected for the Pro Bowl since Al “Bubba” Baker in 1979 and the first overall Detroit rookie to be selected since Barry Sanders in 1990.
Nicks is in his third year with the New Orleans Saints after finishing his Husker career in 2007. Nicks helped the defending Super Bowl champion Saints clinch a playoff berth on Monday night with a 17-14 win at Atlanta. Nicks has started every game since the fourth game of his rookie year and has blocked for a New Orleans offense that ranks sixth in the NFL in total offense and second in passing yards per game. The Saints’ offensive line has also allowed only 23 sacks, the fourth-lowest total in the NFL.
Fans can watch the former Huskers in action, as the 2011 Pro Bowl will air live on FOX on Sunday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. p.m. (Central).
Nebraska seniors Prince Amukamara and Alex Henery were honored on Tuesday as first-team Associated Press All-Americans. Husker Blackshirts Lavonte David and Eric Hagg were second- and third-team selections, respectively.
The first-team selection for Amukamara continues an impressive postseason award list for the senior cornerback. Amukamara has been a unanimous first-team selection by the four major selectors recognized by the NCAA who have released their teams—Associated Press, AFCA, Walter Camp and FWAA. Amukamara ranks among the national leaders with 13 pass breakups this season and his play anchored a Nebraska secondary that ranks fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Henery’s first-team recognition from the Associated Press is his first honor from one of the major selectors. The place-kicker becomes Nebraska’s 109th all-time first-team All-America selection and the 95th different player to earn that accolade, including 14 two-time All-Americans. The Omaha native has connected on 18-of-19 field goals this season and is perfect on extra-point attempts. He has become Nebraska’s all-time leading scorer with 396 career points, and in the Holiday Bowl Henery can become just the 12th player in NCAA history to record 400 career points.
Nebraska was one of five players with two first-team AP All-America selections, and the first-team All-America honors for Amukamara and Henery marks the first time NU has had a pair of first-team picks since 2003. In that season, punter Kyle Larson and safety Josh Bullocks were first-team honorees.
Amukamara and Henery were also named to the SI.com first-team All-America listing on Tuesday. While Amukamara has been a unanimous first-team pick, Henery was also a first-team selection by Rivals.com and CBSSports.com.
David was a second-team All-America pick by both Associated Press and SI.com on Tuesday. The junior has recorded 145 tackles this season and is just five tackles from establishing a Nebraska season record for tackles. The 6-1, 215-pound David was a first-team All-America pick by both CBS Sports.com and Rivals.com last week.
Hagg has been a key member of the Nebraska secondary for the past three seasons and excelled during his senior campaign. He has a team-leading five interceptions from his nickel spot and also has made 46 tackles. In addition to his third-team All-America selection by AP, Hagg was a second-team pick by Rivals.com and an honorable-mention choice by SI.com.
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick was also tabbed a second-team All-American by SI.com on Tuesday. Crick leads the team with 9.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Last week he was a first-team choice by Rivals.com and a second-team honoree by CBS Sports.com.
Also on Tuesday, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez was named to Rivals.com’s freshman All-America squad. Martinez has rushed for 942 yards and 12 touchdowns this season and pass for more than 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns. He has already set Nebraska freshman records for passing yards and total offense.
BY TODD NEELEY
Nebraska football can’t go on like this much longer, offensively that is.
The number of championship defensive performances this team has wasted has become staggering. And the latest came at the worst possible time.
Let’s be blunt here — it just feels as if this program has lost whatever momentum it had at the end of the 2009 season. I’m not trying to over-react here, but this offense still lacks enough playmakers across the offense and depth at quarterback to make a serious championship run.
Against Oklahoma Saturday the Blackshirts did plenty to win this game. They’re not the problem.
NU’s 23-20 loss will go down as one of the worst big-game offensive performances in the history of Husker football — next to last year’s Big 12 title game.
Turnovers are inexcusable at this point in the season, and they killed Nebraska’s chances against OU.
Coaches’ decision to start Taylor Martinez was misguided, and this coaching staff struggles to make the right offensive decisions in the big games.
It didn’t have to be this way. Martinez didn’t need to throw an interception in the end zone at a time when Nebraska could have nearly put the game out of reach.
Much of this rests squarely on Martinez who was shockingly inadequate in all phases of the game. Yet that wasn’t half as bad as the play calling by this Nebraska staff at a time when NU could have sent that game into overtime.
On two separate drives in the second half, Nebraska was punching holes in the Oklahoma defense with Rex Burkhead running the wildcat. So what does Nebraska do with what were some promising moments? They squash it like a fly.
They put Martinez back behind center and have him drop back in the shotgun. On this night that was a turnover or sack waiting to happen. Late in the fourth quarter Nebraska was well within range for an Alex Henery field goal that would have tied the game at 23-23.
So on a third down when Nebraska needed nothing more than a few yards on a simple short pass, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has Martinez drop back and take one of his patented sacks — Nebraska’s out of field goal range, game over.
I’m not one to call for someone’s job, but Watson’s play calling cost Nebraska the Big 12 championship and some national respect.
Oklahoma wasn’t stopping Burkhead in the fourth quarter, but Watson’s decisions were.
Martinez proved on national television that he wasn’t ready to play in this game. The Sooners sacked Martinez seven times — and all of those were on the quarterback, who had one of the worst games ever by a Nebraska quarterback with the spotlight shining brightly.
Good night, just throw the ball away if there isn’t an open receiver. Martinez could have benefitted from a short-drop, quick-passing scheme against what was a nasty Oklahoma pass rush.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Oklahoma’s defense dominated the Nebraska offense in the second half. But Nebraska proved in the first half that OU was vulnerable to the run — evident by Roy Helu’s long touchdown run.
Helu saw few carries the rest of the way.
Whatever happened to the idea of just running the same play until the defense can stop it? I once covered a high school football game where one team drove 98 yards for a winning touchdown, all on running plays right up the middle — mano-a-mano.
I know offensive lineman like that kind of game plan, so why not let the big guys win this game? I don’t get it.
Once again Watson totally out-guessed himself. He made a comment in the postgame about not wanting the offense to become too one-dimensional by continuing to run Burkhead. But that’s exactly what it was every time Watson tried to make Martinez a drop-back passer.
OK, I’m admittingly piling on Martinez when the guy has been fighting nagging injuries for half the season.
But why play him when he’s not at his best? A redshirt freshman who hasn’t played much in the past three games is bound to make bad decisions with the ball in such a huge game.
Nebraska coaches, once again, took a gamble that hurt the team.
At-best Martinez was rusty. At worst he proved that Nebraska sorely needs a real quarterback battle leading into the 2011 season. There will be Cody Green and three more highly touted freshmen to make it interesting.
Martinez is notorious for locking in on his primary receiver, and as ABC announcers said during the game, he panics when his primary receiver is covered.
That’s why Watson should have put this game in the hands of the offensive line, which seemed to fire off the ball a lot harder with Burkhead behind center. The offensive line wasn’t the problem. That group gave Martinez plenty of time to throw or run.
More often than not, Martinez just froze, just as he does in front of the media. The guy has to be a leader for this offense, including being accountable in wins and losses. Once again, Martinez declined media requests for interviews following the game.
So how bad are things on offense if coaches believe Burkhead is Nebraska’s second-best option behind center?
Burkhead looked more comfortable making decisions with the ball than did Martinez. If Nebraska was going to start a quarterback in this game it made more sense to go with Green, simply because the guy is completely healthy and, at this point, was making better decisions behind center than Martinez ultimately did against OU.
Green showed what he can do if he knows he’s the starter at the beginning of the week.
I’ve been as critical of Green as anyone, calling him a huge disappointment for Husker fans. But the guy played the best game of his career against Colorado and probably deserved a chance to start against OU.
It was equally unexplainable as to why you bench Green when the guy seemed to be getting into a rhythm. Hindsight is always 20/20, but maybe Green would have been a better option knowing what we know now.
Nebraska took a step back with this loss. That is clearly the national perception in light of the Insight Bowl selecting Missouri instead of Nebraska, although NU won the North, lost the Big 12 title game by just three points and manhandled the Tigers in Lincoln.
Instead, Nebraska gets another shot at — hard to believe — Washington in the Holiday Bowl.
Some reward. Why not just stay home for the bowl season instead?
You beat a team by 35 points and the best Nebraska can do is a rematch with the 6-6 Huskies?
It’s hard to stomach.
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma — even to this day the matchup has a certain ring to it.
Many believe this rivalry came to an end in 1997 with the formation of the Big 12 conference. That may be true since the two teams haven’t regularly met since the conference started.
In the hearts of fans, though, nothing much has changed.
I think I speak for many fans who were hoping Nebraska would get another shot at Oklahoma, as a send-off to the Big Ten. And it could be the last Big 12 title game for some time, as the NCAA requires conferences to have at least 12 teams to play a conference championship game.
It adds that little something extra to this game.
So does this mean the stars are perfectly aligned for NU to walk off into the sunset with the conference trophy?
Well, that’s what many fans thought about the prospects of getting revenge on Texas in Lincoln this season after last year’s championship game heartbreak.
No, that didn’t work out. Things aren’t always as they seem.
Nebraska proved that all of those other factors outside of football really matter little.
Will the 13-12 loss to Texas in Dallas last year help motivate Nebraska at all against Oklahoma? Yeah, to a point Nebraska probably has an emotional edge going into this game, believing it left something on the field that night. But NU will need a lot to fall in place to walk away with a trophy.
In many ways Oklahoma’s strengths play right into Nebraska’s hands.
Landry Jones will throw the ball some 50 times — perfect for a Blackshirt secondary that is the best in college football. For this secondary to make big plays Nebraska’s front four will have to consistently get pressure on Jones. That’s a tall task considering OU runs this offense at a blistering pace. Conditioning will be at a premium.
Oklahoma’s defense has been susceptible to the run this season — Nebraska’s offense likely will resort to pounding the ball right up the middle of that defense, as even if Taylor Martinez plays he’ll be limited by injury.
Still, there’s no reason to mistake this OU defense for the Colorado defense that Nebraska ran through like butter. OU will provide a much stiffer challenge to the Nebraska run game, meaning NU will have to find ways to help Cody Green find some success in the passing game.
There’s no way Nebraska’s offense can trade touchdowns — back and forth — with the Oklahoma offense.
The Nebraska defense will need to turn in a performance similar to last year’s 10-3 Nebraska win in Lincoln. In that game Nebraska picked off Jones five times. Clearly Jones is making much better decisions than he did a year ago, so NU will be fortunate to get two picks in this game Saturday — I say they get three.
ESPN reported Friday that injured OU running back Demarco Murray will play against Nebraska. Nebraska coaches are keeping it close to the vest as to who will start at quarterback. Right now it appears that Green will get the nod as Martinez has been seen leaving practice all week wearing a protective walking boot.
Now, this can cut both ways.
Bo Pelini has made remarks this week that Martinez has performed well in practice. This is a mixed signal — I think — intended to keep OU guessing. If I was a betting man I’d say Martinez will start. Whether he’ll be able to finish is very much in doubt, as he continues to battle what can be a debilitating turf toe injury.
Simply put, the Nebraska defense will have to keep OU out of the end zone. It will be much more difficult for Rex Burkhead in the wildcat to carry the offense this week.
There are a couple more keys in this game. Oklahoma is the best third-down team in the country and one of the least penalized teams in college football.
We know Nebraska will commit penalties, maybe seven or eight if the law of averages hold. Somehow, someway NU has to play hard and play through the penalties.
Without a fully healthy Martinez Nebraska will have to make this a defensive battle, scoring two touchdowns and three Alex Henery field goals, as Nebraska makes it a hard night for Landry Jones.
Defense and a good running game wins championships.
Nebraska 23, Oklahoma 14.
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
On Taylor Martinez and Lavonte David earning Big 12 honors today
“We had a number of guys honored today when the Big 12 came out. I’m proud of all those guys. It’s a team game and there are a lot of people who put a lot of effort in, guys that weren’t honored who I thought were deserving also. It’s a team game and it just goes to show you we made some improvement. We did some good things as a football team this year.”
On what the defense can take from last year’s game
“Nothing really, it’s a different time, different place, different offense, new challenges.”
On what the team did well in that game last year
“Like I said, it’s a different time, different place, so the furthest thing from my mind is what happened in that game last year.”
On how he has seen Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones improve from last season
“Landry is a good football player. He makes good decisions. He’s decisive. He’s a good football player.”
On if there are any similarities between the hurry-up offense Oklahoma and Oklahoma State runs
“Different offenses. I mean the tempo is fast. There are some similarities, but different offenses. The tempo can be similar.”
On what they must do in the pass defense against Oklahoma
“It’s a good match up. They are pretty balanced. I think they run the ball fairly well at times and they have a lot of talent, a lot of good skill people on that side. They have a trigger man who can get the ball to everybody. They stretch the field on you. It’s a good challenge for us.”
On what they have to do well against Oklahoma
“Execute, not make mistakes, tackle well in space, and cover people. Obviously, on top of that, you have to get pressure up front. You want to make the quarterback uncomfortable.”
On Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles
“He’s a good football player. They get him the ball in a lot of different ways. They try to get him the ball in space and he makes plays. He’s a heck of a playmaker, a good football player.”
On at which point over the past couple years he saw the defensive backs really gel as a unit
“I think it’s a process. It’s a development. I think they’ve steadily got better and they developed an understanding of what we are trying to do defensively. They’ve bought in. They’ve worked hard and they’ve improved. That’s all part of it. It’s about development.”
On how his and Bob Stoops’ relationship has improved after coaching in the same league
“We’ve always had a good relationship and we always will. We’ve known each other for a long time. I wouldn’t say that being a head coach in the league has changed anything.”
On if they talk more or less now that he is a head coach
“It really hasn’t changed at all from when I was an assistant to a head coach to back when I was in the NFL.”
On if he would take any extra satisfaction in beating him on Saturday
“It’s not about Bob and me. It’s about two football teams, two football programs. There are a lot of other people involved in this thing. No, I guess is the answer. It’s about the kids. It’s not about us.”
On what a Big 12 title would mean in Nebraska’s final year in the conference
“We worked really hard this year. The kids have put a lot of effort in, so it would mean a lot. It’s what we set out to do when the season started was winning the Big 12.”
On when he thinks they need to make a decision on the starting quarterback
“What time’s the game start Saturday?”
On if he thinks the players need to know who their starting quarterback will be
On if he has seen Cody Green’s confidence grow
“I would assume he’s confident from how he played the other day, but he’s a confident kid and very capable. We have a lot of confidence in Cody. I think he’s ready to play. I always know he’s ready to play.”
On where Cody has shown the most improvement this season
“In all areas he’s developed. He hasn’t got a lot of playing time, but practice and all of that is all part of the development. You just see him getting better and better every time he gets an opportunity. Hopefully, he’ll continue to improve like any other guy on our football team.”
On Cody’s attitude throughout the season
“All those guys, I think it represents the type of attitude on our football team. It’s a team game and they are all team players, and they want to do whatever it takes to win. They have confidence in the coaches and they have confidence in themselves and their teammates and everybody plays for the guy next to him. It’s not about one individual guy. It’s about the football team.”
On if he feels slighted the Big 12 didn’t present a Big 12 trophy to them
“No. I understand there are some other circumstances that played into that, but it’s not an issue.”
On if he will gladly accept one on Saturday if they win
“That’s obvious, right?”
On if he thinks his team is playing their best football of the year right now
“I think there is still more out there for this football team. We have to keep getting better. Saturday night gives us that opportunity. We haven’t reached our potential yet and there is still a lot for us. It would be nice if it would all come together on Saturday night. That’s what you strive for, to keep getting better each and every week. That’s the challenge ahead of us this week.”
On Prince Amukamara being named an All-American without recording a interception
“It says that the people voting know what they’re talking about. It’s not about statistics; it’s about how you play. I think he leads the country in pass breakups. He’s had a tremendous year. He’s a tremendous football player. I think that honor was well deserved.”
On if they call a defensive game plan different because they have somebody like Amukamara on at corner
“No, not really. I mean, obviously, everything you do on all areas you always take into account what your talent is, and what your strengths are weaknesses are, all those things. Not only having Prince, but having Alfonzo (Dennard) and (Eric) Hagg, and the guys that are pretty good cover guys. That always plays a part in what you do.
On if Alfonzo Dennard has been overlooked because of Amukamara
“I think so, but I think in the end his opportunity will come next year. I think he recognizes that. Believe me, Alfonzo is very happy for Prince, but I think you’ll see him in this very similar situation next year.”
On if he is confident Alfonzo Dennard will come back instead of going to the NFL
“Yeah, I think his mindset is to come back.”
On if he ever had any discussions with Prince about the NFL
“Oh yeah, we talk about it, but his mindset was to come back. He felt there was a lot more out there for him. I think he made the right choice.”
On if he treats this game any different because it is a championship game
“No, same approach.”
On if it helps that they were there last season
“No, not really. Whatever happened last year doesn’t help you now. You live in the present. It’s a different opponent, different time, different football teams. It will be won or lost on the field.”
On if they will have a walk-through on Friday like they did last year
“No. We’ve been in there already and we’re not doing a walk through.”
On if he thinks this is a better team than a year ago
“I don’t know. I don’t compare them. I just worry about where we are right now as a football team. I think we haven’t reached our potential yet, and we need to keep working to do that.”
On how he thinks offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has managed the offense after some tough injuries and young players seeing action
“I think we’ve done a really good job offensively. You can’t control injuries. You make adjustments and you move on. I think we’ve made good adjustments. I thought at times we were hitting on all cylinders. I thought at times we weren’t. A lot of that has to do with injuries, but injuries are part of the game. I have a lot of confidence in Wats (Watson) and the offensive staff. I think they’ve done a good job.”
On how he would feel if the game was in Alex Henery’s hands at the end
“I’d feel good about it.”
On Alex Henery never earning first-team All-Big 12 honors in his career
“I think it’s crazy. I also thought it was crazy that he wasn’t a finalist for the Groza award. I think when it’s all said and done, when the guys who know, the guys who really watch, and it comes draft time, I think it will be obvious where he is in the pecking order.”
On what people in the NFL are saying about Henery
“They love him. He’s done it for a long period of time. I think he only missed one this year and it was blocked, it was about a 56 (51)yarder that was blocked. You can’t do any better than that. Plus, the punting and the clutch situations and the amount of time he has done it. I’m not taking anything away from, I don’t even know who got first team, but I’m not taking anything away from him, I just wouldn’t trade Alex for any kicker in the country.”
On Alex’s impact on his team
“He’s just done it over and over. He’s been consistent. He’s done a great job. Like I said, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the country.”
On the development of Rex Burkhead and what he gives you out of the Wildcat
“He’s a good football player. He does a lot of things well. He’s a competitor. He has great character. He’s a leader and he’s continuing to get better. He has an impact on the game in a lot of different ways. Everyone focuses on the Wildcat, but he runs the ball hard, he’s efficient, he can run inside or outside. He’s just a tremendous football player who’s continuing to develop and get better.”
On if limiting the player’s access to the media this week is an effort to cut back speculation on who will be the starting quarterback
“No, the players were available yesterday and I thought that was the right way to go about it. That’s not going to limit any speculation at quarterback or anything else.”
On how the players have handled the uncertainty at quarterback
“They don’t bat an eye. They have confidence in all the guys. It’s not an issue within our building.”
On if he followed the NU vs. OU rivalry growing up
“Yeah, I remember watching the Oklahoma-Nebraska game. The game was mainly played after Thanksgiving, right? I remember watching that game on Friday. It was a tremendous rivalry, two great programs with a lot of tradition. It’s fitting that we’re playing on Saturday.”
On if this game means more to him than most
“No. It’s not about me. It never has been, never will be. It’s about the kids. I’ve been in a lot of big games and it’s most important to me because it’s the next one. That’s about it.”
On if he will remember this game more than Iowa State or Kansas State
“I don’t know. Depends on what happens.”
On if he draws any experiences from when he coached at LSU in the 2007 SEC Title game when they played a backup quarterback
“No, not really. Like I said, that was a different time and place, different football team. I didn’t know anything about any distractions that day. I didn’t even know any of that went on until afterwards. Apparently, when all of those distractions happened I was sitting in the locker room reading a book. You control what you can control and you go try and do the best job you possibly can. That’s how I approach it no matter what.”
On how excited he would be for the players to win this game
“It’s obvious. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of this group of kids, how far they’ve come. I just want the best for them. That’s why I’m in this profession.”
On how much the offense changes depending who is at quarterback
“It changes a little bit, because everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Things change a little bit, but it’s not dramatic.”
The All-Big 12 Conference football teams and individual award winners were announced on Tuesday morning with six Nebraska players being named first-team all-conference selections. Selections are made by the league’s 12 head coaches, who are not permitted to vote for their own players.
The first-team selections were led by senior cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was chosen as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. This marks the second consecutive year Nebraska has captured the defensive award following Ndamukong Suh in 2009. It is also the fourth time in 15 years NU has won the Defensive Player of the Year, after Grant Wistrom won the honor in both 1996 and 1997. Amukamara is only the third defensive back to win the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor and the first since Terence Newman of Kansas State in 2002.
Amukamara headlined three Huskers who won individual awards from the Big 12. Junior linebacker Lavonte David, the league’s second-leading tackler, was selected as Newcomer of the Year, and freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez was chosen as the Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Amukamara is among the national leaders in pass breakups with 13, and is a key to the Blackshirt defense ranking second nationally in both pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed per game. The 6-1, 205-pound senior was one of five Blackshirts honored as first-team All-Big 12 picks, making the team for the second straight year. The first-team defenders have helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 and rank fifth nationally in total defense.
Nebraska’s six first-team All-Big 12 selections were it most since 2000, and the five defensive first-teamers is the most on one side of the ball since NU also had five first-team defenders in 1996, the inaugural season of the Big 12.
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick was a first-team selection for the second straight season. The 6-6, 285-pound Crick has 60 tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and a team-high 7.5 sacks. Defensive end Pierre Allen made the All-Big 12 team for the first time. The Denver native has 51 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, and a team-high 11 quarterback hurries in his senior season.
David was a first-team selection in his first year at Nebraska. The junior linebacker has racked up 128 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups and six sacks. He is the second Husker to be named Newcomer of the Year, joining Scott Frost, who captured Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors as a quarterback in 1996. The final first-team defensive selection was senior defensive back Eric Hagg. The versatility of the Peoria, Ariz., native has been crucial for the Nebraska defense. Hagg has 38 tackles, a team-high five interceptions and four pass breakups.
The Nebraska offense featured one first-team All-Big 12 selection in senior offensive guard Ricky Henry. The play of Henry has helped Nebraska lead the Big 12 and rank eighth nationally in rushing offense at 269.2 yards per game.
In addition to the first-team selections, five Huskers were chosen as second-team All-Big 12 honorees, including Omaha seniors Alex Henery and Niles Paul, who made the second unit at two positions.
The most accurate kicker in NCAA history, Henery was a second-team pick for the third straight season at place-kicker. He has connected on 16-of-17 field goals this season and is perfect on 51 PAT attempts, while tying Kris Brown for the school’s all-time scoring record with 388 points. Henery also made the second team as a punter. He averages 43.5 yards per punt and has downed 23 of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
The 6-1, 220-pound Paul made the second team as a receiver and kick returner. Paul has 39 catches for 516 yards and a touchdown this season and is among the top five receivers in school history. Paul also averages 25.2 yards per kickoff return and 11.4 yards on punt returns.
Senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. also made the second-team offense after posting his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Helu Jr. has 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns and averages 6.7 yards per rush. He racked up four 100-yard rushing games, including a school-record 307 yards against Missouri.
Defensively, sophomore end Cameron Meredith and junior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were chosen as second-team picks. Meredith has 54 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, and 10 quarterback hurries on the season. Dennard ranks second on the team with four interceptions, and has added 23 tackles and six pass breakups.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez is the first Husker to capture the Offensive Freshman-of-the-Year award. Martinez has rushed for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, while averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He is second among all Nebraska freshman in rushing yards in a season and his 1,435 passing yards is the most ever by a Nebraska freshman. Martinez is 26 rushing yards shy of becoming the third freshman quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a season.
Six Huskers earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors. On offense, the honorees included Martinez, junior center Mike Caputo, senior offensive guard Keith Williams and sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead. On defense, senior defensive back DeJon Gomes and sophomore defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler were honored.
Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper captured her second Big 12 Freshman-of-the-Week award in the first three weeks of the season, when the conference office announced its selections on Monday afternoon.
Hooper, a 6-2 forward from Alliance, Neb., averaged 20.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in a pair of Nebraska victories last week. She hit 19-of-25 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 three-point attempts in Nebraska wins over Washington State (in Pullman) and Nebraska-Omaha. Against UNO, Hooper scored a career-high 25 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the field. She also blocked a career-high three shots. Her 25 points came in just 24 minutes. In the road win at Washington State, Hooper scored 16 points, including three second-half putbacks to help the Huskers to victory. Hooper also grabbed six rebounds and added two steals against the Cougars.
Hooper is tied for second among all Big 12 freshmen in scoring at 17.0 points per game through the first five games of her career. She also ranks fourth among Big 12 freshmen in rebounding with 5.2 boards per contest.
Hooper and No. 24/20 Nebraska return to home action on Tuesday night when the Huskers take on UNLV (4-1) at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Tip-off between the Huskers, who entered the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 24 on Monday, and the Rebels is set for 7:05 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Huskers.com or by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED. The game can be heard live on the Husker Sports Network on WOW 105.3 FM-KLNC in Lincoln, Twister 93.3 FM-KTWI in Omaha and 880 AM-KRVN in Lexington.
Big 12 Players of the Week
Nov. 15 – Mariah White, Kansas State; So., G, Danielle Robinson, Oklahoma, Sr., G
Nov. 22 – Dominique Kelley, Nebraska, Sr., G
Nov. 29 – Brittney Griner, Baylor, So., C
Big 12 Freshmen of the Week
Nov. 15 – Jordan Hooper, Nebraska, F
Nov. 22 – Chassidy Fussell, Texas, G
Nov. 29 – Jordan Hooper, Nebraska, F