Scott Frost finally got the chance to exhale after a challenging two months.
He accepted the head coaching job at Nebraska then completed an undefeated season at Central Florida — all while recruiting for the Huskers. That effort paid off Wednesday as Frost completed his first Nebraska recruiting class.
The Huskers signed 11 players Wednesday — including five that made signing day decisions in favor of the Huskers — to go with the crop NU signed in the early period. The class will finish in the top 25, but that isn’t the ultimate goal for Frost.
“I don’t really care about the rankings,” Frost said during a 30-minute press conference. “It matters on one day and that’s today. I’m not here to win February. I’m here to win football games in the fall.”
And Frost believes he’s as assembled a group that can win football games. It includes several offensive skill players — including weapons like Maurice Washington and Miles Jones that Frost said will have a chance to make an early impact.
“When you’re taking over a 4-8 team, there’s a lot of needs,” Frost said. “We wanted to take the best players we could take. … We feel good about every player we got.”
Now Frost and his coaching staff will take a much-deserved break. And it’s those assistant coaches Frost credited for a lot of Wednesday’s recruiting success.
“It’s unprecedented what these guys have done,” Frost said. “I can’t wait to see what they can accomplish here.”
Maurice Washington announces Nebraska commitment on national television
For the second straight year Nebraska received good news from a recruit announcing a signing day decision on national television.
Maurice Washington, a four-star running back from the Dallas area, gave the Huskers his commitment Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony at his high school broadcasted by ESPN. Washington made his announcement about a year after another Dallas-area prospect, Damion Daniels, did the same.
The Huskers scored a victory this time over Arizona State to land Washington. Nebraska views Washington as a running back, while the Sun Devils had been recruiting him as a cornerback. His offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School — NFL great Deion Sanders — had said in an interview with The World-Herald that Washington’s decision could come down to what position he wanted to play.
Washington will provide the Huskers with another weapon to use in Scott Frost’s new offense. He can play out of the backfield or line up in the slot. Washington accounted for 1,835 total yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior season. He was also MVP of the Under Armour All-America Game after rushing for three touchdowns against some of the best high school players in the country.
The Huskers will hope he can have that same kind of impact at Nebraska. Washington joins junior college running back Greg Bell in the 2018 class in addition to several other wide receivers and offensive weapons.
Washington’s performance at that Under Armour game boosted his stock with the recruiting services. He finished as a four-star prospect, according to the 247Sports composite, and ranked as high as No. 93 nationally by ESPN.
Washington is the Huskers’ second 2018 recruit from Texas, following Mansfield safety Cam’ron Jones. The Huskers will sign multiple Texans for the second straight year after not signing one in 2016.
Alabama defensive back Cam Taylor picks Nebraska
Many had considered Cam Taylor to be a “silent commit” to Nebraska, but he wasn’t silent Wednesday.
Taylor, a product of Montgomery, Alabama, announced during a ceremony at his high school that he would be signing with the Huskers. He chose Nebraska over finalists Auburn, Missouri and Troy.
Rumors began circulating last week when another defensive back recruit, Joseph Norwood, canceled a planned official visit to Nebraska because he was told somebody else had committed. Because no other recruits had made public announcements, most assumed Norwood was referring to Taylor, who had taken his official visit to Nebraska the previous weekend.
Whether or not that was actually the case, there was still a sweat for the Huskers entering the final day. Reports surfaced Monday that Auburn, which hadn’t previously offered Taylor, could decide to offer him at the last minute if space in its class became available. That offer never came, and Taylor is headed to Nebraska.
He gives Nebraska a three-star athlete, according to the 247Sports composite, who’s expected to fit as a cornerback in the Husker secondary.
Nebraska tried to load up on defensive backs in the 2018 class. Nebraska added Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon last month, and junior college safety Deontai Williams signed in December. The Huskers also entered Wednesday with commitments from high school DBs Braxton Clark, Cam’ron Jones and CJ Smith.
Nebraska recruited Taylor, a former Missouri commit, heavily over the last month of the recruiting cycle. The Huskers offered him three days after Christmas then hosted him on an official visit the weekend of Jan. 26. He also took official visits to Auburn and Troy. He was expected to visit Missouri last weekend, but he didn’t make the trip.
Taylor is the second player from Alabama to join NU’s 2018 class, following kicker and early enrollee Barret Pickering. Prior to this year, the Huskers hadn’t signed a player from that state since 2013.
Nebraska beats SEC schools for four-star pass rusher Caleb Tannor
Nebraska beat some SEC heavyweights to land Caleb Tannor.
The pass rusher from Lithonia, Georgia, announced his intention Wednesday to sign with the Huskers instead of Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss or Mississippi State. Tannor had visited Auburn, Florida and Nebraska in January but held off on a decision until national signing day.
He made that decision known during a ceremony at Miller Park High School, which had seven players signing with football programs Wednesday.
Tanner was the big name, a consensus four-star recruit ranked No. 328 overall and No. 19 at his position, according to the 247Sports composite.
He’ll likely fit as an outside linebacker in Nebraska’s defense. The Huskers signed pass rushers David Alston and Tate Wildeman in December. Defensive end Casey Rogers made his commitment official when he signed early Wednesday morning.
The Huskers also entered signing day as a finalist for outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste out of New Jersey, though Ohio State seemed to be the favorite.
Nebraska did land Tannor, though, and he is the second recruit from Georgia to pick the Huskers, following receiver Katerian Legrone, who signed in December. Nebraska hadn’t signed a player from Georgia since 2015 when it landed Mohamed Barry and Aaron Williams.
New NU tight ends coach Sean Beckton was one of NU’s lead recruiters for Tannor. He has extensive recruiting ties in the Atlanta area and will lead the Huskers’ charge back into the state.
Connection between Scott Frost, Willie Canty seals lineman’s signing with Nebraska
In the end, Willie Canty went with the guys who wanted him first.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle remembers his first Division I scholarship offer like it was yesterday. April 25 of last year. From Scott Frost and UCF.
So when another opportunity came in late January from Frost and the same coaching staff — this time at Nebraska — the courtship felt like anything but speed dating.
“Scott Frost offered me my first offer at UCF and my second to last at Nebraska,” Canty told The World-Herald on Wednesday afternoon. “I couldn’t say no like that.”
A standout from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central, Canty signed during a morning ceremony at his high school to become the Huskers’ only offensive tackle in the class.
The three-star prospect according to 247Sports and Rivals chose the Big Red over Louisville after visiting both schools the last two weeks.
Canty — who was in Lincoln last weekend — said he made up his mind Tuesday night. That’s when he informed coaches from both teams he was going to Nebraska.
“They sold me longer,” Canty said of the Huskers. “The simple things. I like both programs, but it was the simple things that got Nebraska with the win. I kept my word. Nebraska has what it takes.”
The recruiting process was enjoyable, Canty said, and he’s thrilled to end up with coaches he’s known longer than the handful of latecomers.
“It was great,” Canty said. “I feel like for the next four to five years I’ll be successful at Nebraska.”
Wide receiver Andre Hunt becomes Nebraska’s fifth signing day pickup
Andre Hunt provided Nebraska with another offensive playmaker for its 2018 recruiting class when he announced Wednesday that he’d sign with the Huskers.
Hunt’s announcement came only a few days after he returned from his official visit to Lincoln on the final weekend before national signing day. He had visited San Diego State and Oregon State — his other two finalists — in the two weeks prior. Hunt posted on Twitter that his trip to Lincoln was a “fantastic visit” that left him with a “big decision” to make on signing day.
That decision went in favor of Nebraska.
It was the second time in less than a week that Nebraska went head-to-head for a recruit with Oregon State, which now has former Husker head coach Mike Riley on staff. The Beavers beat out Nebraska on Saturday for athlete Matthew Tago, who was being recruited by NU as a quarterback but will be a linebacker at OSU.
Hunt said he and Tago — who are both from Lancaster, California — are friends and had discussed the possibility of playing together on the next level. But Hunt will instead head to the Midwest while Tago stays on the West Coast.
The Huskers first extended Hunt an offer two days before Christmas and continued to recruit him heavily throughout January. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters made an in-home visit with Hunt on Jan. 14, and about a week later Hunt met Scott Frost for the first time.
Hunt, who was once committed to USC, becomes the sixth wide receiver in Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class. He’s a three-star recruit ranked No. 95 at his position, according to the 247Sports composite. He’s also the second high school recruit from California to land with Nebraska, and the composite pegs him at No. 64 in the state.
Hunt — 6-foot-1, 185 pounds — made 67 catches for 1,185 yards and 18 touchdowns (21 TDs total) in 14 games last fall for Paraclete High School. Paraclete used him all over the field. He found seams in the middle of a defense, burned corners on deep routes and gained chunk yardage on bubble screens.
“(Nebraska) said they like me both inside and out,” Hunt said in an interview with The World-Herald last week. “They think they could use me in a lot of different ways, special teams also. It’s pretty much open. They said I can come in and compete, possibly get on the field early. But it’s pretty much all up to me — the opportunity will be there and I just have to capitalize on it.”