LINCOLN — Luke McCaffrey has always wanted to be his own person.
After watching his three older brothers choose to play college football at Duke, Stanford and Michigan, the youngest McCaffrey decided to do his recruitment without their help.
So he kept things to himself. Didn’t ask for advice.
Until his recruitment blew up, and the four-star, dual-threat quarterback was suddenly swimming in mail and text messages from coaches.
Last year, his brother Christian gave him advice that helped clear the chaos.
“He just said, ‘Go somewhere you can see yourself, even when football ends or, God forbid, if something happens with an injury, go somewhere you can still enjoy,’” Luke said.
When Luke visited Nebraska this spring, Christian’s words rang in his head. Which is why on Monday he announced on Twitter he will join Nebraska’s 2019 recruiting class.
“I just felt like this was the right fit at the right time,” McCaffrey said. “The Nebraska culture and the history, it’s the right time to join along. I want to be part of it.”
McCaffrey, from Littleton, Colorado, is the No. 1 rated player in Colorado and the No. 17 athlete in the 2019 class, according to 247Sports composite. He is the highest-rated commit in Nebraska’s 2019 class, with offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, Colorado and North Carolina, among others.
Nebraska now has seven commits in the 2019 class. McCaffrey’s recruitment is shut down, he said. No more visits, other than maybe to Nebraska later this summer to help recruit.
“It’s all Nebraska,” he said.
McCaffrey comes from a long line of football success. His father, Ed, caught 55 touchdowns in the NFL and won three Super Bowls. Luke’s brother Max played at Duke and is now a wide receiver with the 49ers. Christian famously played at Stanford and amassed 5,128 total yards in his career and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2015. Dylan is a quarterback at Michigan, and he was the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class.
Like his brothers, Luke McCaffrey can do it all. He moved into the quarterback spot as a junior at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, splitting time with Colorado commit Blake Stenstrom. McCaffrey threw for 878 yards and six touchdowns, completing 76 percent of his 71 passes. He rushed for 548 yards and nine touchdowns, and also had 19 receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown. In addition, he returned 10 kickoffs for 229 yards and blocked one field goal.
McCaffrey views himself as a quarterback who happens to be able to do other things. Other schools saw him as a receiver.
But Nebraska wanted him under center.
“That definitely meant a lot,” McCaffrey said. “But at the same time, I think it’s a system I can really fit into using the dual-threat quarterback, and using it well. That’s something that appealed to me.”
McCaffrey falls squarely into Nebraska’s new quarterback recruiting philosophy.
As quarterbacks Mario Verduzco told The World-Herald last month, Nebraska has no problem taking a chance on a recruit who is not a traditional quarterback, such as McCaffrey.
“You watch a guy and you ask yourself, ‘Is he athletic? Can he do the things Coach (Scott) Frost and Coach (Troy) Walters expect a quarterback to be able to do in our offense, a la Marcus Mariota, Vernon Adams, McKenzie Milton, so on and so forth? ” Verduzco said. “Coach Frost and I feel like if a guy has some issues — (Milton) had some issues when he first came — we’ll get them corrected. We have the drill work that is designed to first diagnose the problem, then you got drills that are designed to medicate, train and polish his stroke.”
What ends up happening, Verduzco said, is the pool of quarterbacks available to Nebraska is bigger.
Which leads to commitments from guys like McCaffrey.
Although he was only a part-time quarterback as a junior, he’s been playing the position since he started football in grade school. And when talking with Verduzco, McCaffrey said he could see himself in the culture and system at Nebraska.
Verduzco “was just honest,” he said. “He told me some things that will be good to work on and things I do well and how it’ll fit in the system. And at the end of the day, I just enjoyed what he had to say because I think he’ll make me a better football player.”
Nebraska has three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster with true freshman Adrian Martinez, redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia and sophomore Noah Vedral. Junior Andrew Bunch remains a walk-on.
McCaffrey said he’s not sure if he’ll enroll early. He has the grades to graduate in December, but he said enrolling early would require persuading his parents.
For now, it’s one day at a time for the youngest McCaffrey. He’s glad his recruitment is finished. And after living with Colorado fans his whole life, only seeing Nebraska as the state next door, he’s happy to be heading across the border soon. The first in his family to become a Husker.
“It will be kinda fun to go to the other side,” he said.