This week, we found out that the NCAA will allow Penn State to continue playing football this fall, albeit in a diminished capacity. Therefore, as there will be an actual season, we press forward with our look at the incoming football recruiting classes of the other schools in the B1G. Today, we turn our attention to the newest B1G member, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Last year, Nebraska spent its first season as a member of the B1G, after spending decades as a member of the Big 12. Bo Pelini's squad finished 9-4 overall, with a 5-3 record in the conference. Nebraska's up and down season included come from behind victories against Fresno State and Ohio State. However, Nebraska also had tough losses against Northwestern, Wisconsin and were destroyed by Michigan. The Cornhuskers' season ended with a 30-13 loss against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. The bowl game was especially brutal for quarterback Taylor Martinez, who was sacked six times en route to a three interception performance.
Jared Alfalva-OLB-6'3'', 225 lbs., South Jordan, UT-Alfalva is great linebacker with all of the tools. He has good height, good speed and a nasty, violent on-field disposition. Alfalva is as adept at rushing the passer as he is penetrating the line of scrimmage during run plays. In addition, Alfalva demostrates the speed to cover most tight ends on this level. As if having all of the physical tools wasn't enough, Alfalva's technique is especially sound for someone his age. He almost always lowers his body and drives through the ball carrier/quarterback. Alfalva is a complete outside linebacker and will probably start his college career on special teams. But, when all is said and done, this young man should make at least one all B1G team in his college career.
Michael Rose-ILB-6'0'', 225 lbs., Kansas City, MO-Rose has good size and tremendous speed. He is equally adept at rushing the passer and playing the run as he is dropping back into coverage. While he may be faster than Alfalva, Rose's tackling technique is not as good, as Rose demonstrates a tendency to go high on a ball carrier. With the bigger backs in the B1G, Rose will have to lower his shoulder into the hips of these larger ball carriers to be effective at this level. Still, Rose is an incredibly smart, quick linebacker who should prove to be a productive defender for Nebraska.
Paul Thurston-OT-6'5'', 275 lbs., Arvado, CO-Thurston is a big, strong young man with a nasty disposition. He is effective with his hands and seems to be exceptionally good in the run game. However, while Thurston has the size and hand speed to be effective in the pass game, he will have to improve his lateral movement and footwork in order to stop the great pass rushers in the B1G. Although, if Thurston were to fill out a little more, he could be moved to guard. Overall, Thurston has a chance to be a very good O-lineman for the Cornhuskers.
Historically, Nebraska is at its best when it dominates on defense and has a power run game. Given the make up of this draft class, it seems as though that tradition will continue. Of the seventeen (17) recruits, 11 occupy either the defensive side of the ball or the offensive line. In additon, thir top ranked offensive skill player is RB Imani Cross who is listed at 6'0'', 225 lbs. Cross' game is all about power running and punishing tacklers at the point of impact. With an improved offensive line and defensive side, Nebraska may be returning to its roots and, in so doing, may be entering the B1G title picture in years to come. Overall grade: B