Early Signing Period: Huskers sign 2020 recruiting class
The Huskers look to sign commits to the majority of 26 available scholarships as the Early Signing Period begins.
Despite a third straight losing season, Nebraska is approaching back-to-back top 20 recruiting classes. The Huskers await as many as a half dozen Signing Day commitment decisions to fill out their class.
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Four-star outside linebacker Kaden Johnson out of Minnehaha (Minn.) Academy has committed to and signed with Wisconsin. Johnson, the number one player in Minnesota, picked the Badgers over Nebraska, Minnesota and Oregon State, among others.
9:15 a.m. – *New commit*:
Four-star defensive back Jaiden Francois out of South Dade (Homestead, Fla.) has committed to Nebraska. Francois, a two-time Miami commit previously, chose the Huskers over the Hurricanes on Signing Day after two long deliberations.
In an unexpected twist, Francois delayed the announcement by taking a phone call around 8:15 a.m. (central time) and stepping out into the hallway of his school gym for more than a half hour. Overcome with emotion, Francois appeared to have a heated discussion with family members before leaving the vicinity of the gym. After nearly 15 minutes, Francois re-entered with his family members.
When he did, he sat at the signing table with other members of South Dade’s football commits and appeared to argue with a family member for several minutes.
Francois then left the gym for a second time and school officials removed his name tag and hat after an hour of deliberations.
South Dade commenced the ceremony for its other commits before Francois came back into the gym and sat down at the table. His nametag had both Nebraska and Miami logos on it, but just one Miami hat sat on the table.
After a long wait, Francois finally announced his commitment and revealed Nebraska undershirt, drawing cheers from students and others in the packed gym bleachers.
Francois becomes the 22nd known commit in Nebraska’s 2020 class.
10:25 a.m. – *New commit*:
Marcus Fleming has committed to Nebraska. The four-star wide receiver/Duck-R out of perennial powerhouse Miami (Fla.) Northwestern picked the Huskers over Georgia, Florida State, Florida and Maryland, among 35 total FBS offers.
Fleming is considered by some experts to be the fastest player in the state of Florida. The 5-foot-11 speedster runs a 10.4 100-meter dash and could fill a role similar to freshman All-American Wan’Dale Robinson for the Huskers.
Fleming was previously committed to Miami and stepped away from the Hurricanes on November 18. He announced his commitment to Nebraska in a Signing Day ceremony at Miami Northwestern High School.
Fleming is a four-star recruit on both Rivals and 247Sports, and is listed as the No. 256 overall recruit on 247.
10:50 a.m. – *New commit*:
Four-star wide receiver Alante Brown out of St. Thomas More (Conn.) Academy has committed to Nebraska. Brown is the number one prep school player in the country and originally hails from Simeon High School in Chicago.
Brown announced his intentions live on BTN and picked the Huskers over Indiana, Maryland and Michigan State. BTN confirmed he will be an early enrollee and will be able to play both wide receiver and running back, filling a similar role to Robinson. Brown is the third four-star recruit to commit to the Huskers today.
Brown is ranked as a three-star prospect by Rivals and a four-star prospect by 247Sports.
11:40 a.m. – Situation to watch:
Multiple outlets have reported JUCO defensive end Pheldarius Payne out of Lackawanna C.C. (Scranton, Pa.) committed and signed to Nebraska this morning.
However, Payne told the Omaha World-Herald he expects to announce his commitment tonight at 7 p.m. on his Twitter account. Payne, a North Carolina State decommit, is choosing between the Huskers and the Wolf Pack.
We’ll keep you updated on this developing situation.
11:55 a.m. – *New commit*:
JUCO defensive end Pheldarius Payne confirmed to Channel 8 that he has signed a letter of intent to Nebraska.
The late-rising prospect garnered attention from his performance for Lackawanna in the JUCO national championship game. Payne decommitted from NC State and signed his letter of intent with Nebraska this morning.
Payne rings in at 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds and was committed to NC State for close to five months.
Payne is a two-star recruit on Rivals and a three-star recruit on 247Sports. 247 ranks Payne as the No. 78 overall JUCO recruit for 2020.
Four-star defensive back Myles Slusher has committed to Arkansas.
The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native, had been committed to Oregon before flipping to the Razorbacks.
Henry Gray, a four-star safety out of Miami Central (Fla.), becomes the first signee of the day.
Gray committed to the Huskers on September 19, 2019 after an official visit for the Northern Illinois game. Gray has been active in peer recruiting and figures to immediately bolster depth in the secondary.
Gray is ranked as the No. 235 prospect nationally by Rivals and the No. 241 prospect by 247Sports.
Tamon Lynum, a three-star defensive back out of Evans (Orlando, Fla.) has signed with Nebraska.
Lynum committed to the Huskers on June 23, 2019, becoming Nebraska’s first defensive back commit in the class. He officially visited the weekend before his commitment.
Lynum is ranked as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports.
Keyshawn Greene, a four-star inside linebacker out of Wakulla (Crawfordville, Fla.) has signed with Nebraska.
An enormous late addition to the Huskers, Greene flipped from Florida State after the firing of Willie Taggart. Greene officially visited Nebraska on the weekend of December 13, and committed to the Huskers the day he left Lincoln.
Greene is rated as the No. 197 overall prospect by Rivals and No. 154 overall by 247Sports.
Jordon Riley, a three-star defensive lineman out of Garden City C.C. (Kan.) has signed with Nebraska.
A late addition to the class, Riley committed the day before the Early Signing Period. The one-time North Carolina Tar Heel spent two seasons in Chapel Hill before bouncing back to Garden City, looking for a new opportunity. He chose the Huskers over East Carolina.
Riley is ranked as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports, and is slotted as the No. 72 overall JUCO player in the class by 247.
Marquis Black, a three-star nose tackle out of Eagles Landing Christian (McDonough, Ga.) Academy, has signed with Nebraska.
A commit since October 12, 2019, Black was the second nose tackle to jump into the Huskers’ 2020 class. He stands 6-foot-4 and comes in at 295 pounds and looks to bolster depth at the nose position. Black reported more than 20 FBS offers and committed to the Huskers following an official visit for the Ohio State game in September.
Black is ranked as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports.
Logan Smothers, a four-star quarterback from Muscle Shoals (Ala.), has signed with Nebraska.
The longest-tenured commit of Nebraska’s 2020 class, Smothers has been “N” since July of 2018. He transferred from Athens High School in Alabama to follow his father, who got a job as the offensive coordinator at Muscle Shoals before Logan’s senior season.
A dual-threat prospect, Smothers has developed an impressive touch throwing the football to go with his already-strong ability as a runner. Statistical numbers and evaluations helped bump his stock throughout his senior year, and he will finish on the cusp of being a top 100 player.
Smothers is a four-star on both Rivals and 247Sports. He’s slotted at No. 174 overall by Rivals and No. 314 overall by 247.
Turner Corcoran, a four-star offensive tackle out of Free State (Lawrence, Kan.), has signed with Nebraska.
The highest-ranked recruit in the Huskers’ 2020 class created waves with his commitment on spring game weekend in 2019. At 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, Corcoran not only fits the ideal frame for Husker coaches, but has also shown the skill on the field to come to Lincoln and be a major contributor.
Viewed as a cornerstone left tackle-type prospect, Corcoran could compete for playing time immediately as a true freshman. National experts project he could take over as the starter at left tackle following Brenden Jaimes’ graduation after the 2020 season.
The borderline five-star is ranked as the No. 58 overall recruit by Rivals and No. 38 by 247Sports.
Omar Manning, a four-star wide receiver out of Kilgore J.C. (Texas), has signed with Nebraska.
With two years of eligibility remaining, Manning figures to be an instant-impact player and likely starter at the wide receiver position in 2020. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 215 pounds, Manning comes in as a unicorn for the Nebraska wide receiver room – the Huskers don’t have a player with anywhere near his body type or skill set on the team.
Manning made a splash with his commitment on December 13, less than a week before the Early Signing Period. He’ll enroll in May.
Manning is a four-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports, ranked as the No. 3 overall JUCO prospect by Rivals and the No. 2 overall JUCO prospect by 247.
Nash Hutmacher will join the Huskers after a standout athletic career for Chamberlain High School in South Dakota. In addition to being a three-time all-state football player, Hutmacher is also a three-time state champion in wrestling and two-time state champion in track and field.
On the gridiron, Hutmacher was a three-time all-state selection who totaled nearly 300 career tackles and set several school defensive records. As a senior, Hutmacher had 88 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and four sacks. As a junior, he totaled 105 tackles (56 solo) with 11 TFLs, 10 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He also saw limited action at running back, scoring three touchdowns on nine carries.
Hutmacher is also a standout on the wrestling mat. Ranked as the nation’s No. 1 high school heavyweight last spring, Hutmacher is a three-time state champion, the first heavyweight in South Dakota history to win three consecutive state titles. He entered his senior season with a 124-match winning streak, including 32 consecutive pins. He is also the first person to be named the Daily Republic Wrestler of the Year three years in a row.
Hutmacher went 33-0 as a junior with 32 pins and one forfeit en route to earning a spot on the 2018-19 USA Today All-USA Boys Wrestling Team. He was 46-0 as the state champion as a sophomore and 44-0 as a freshman state champion. Outside of high school competition, Hutmacher is a four-time All-American who has won several event titles, including pinning three of his four opponents en route to the 2019 USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle National Championship and winning the 2017 USA Wrestling Cadet Freestyle National Championship.
In track and field, Hutmacher won the Class A state title in the shot put and discus as a junior. For his efforts as a first-team all-state pick in football, an undefeated state champion in wrestling and two-time state champion in track and field, Hutmacher was named the 2018-19 South Dakota Boys Athlete of the Year.
The consensus No. 1 player in South Dakota, Hutmacher also visited Oregon and Wisconsin before choosing the Huskers. A three-star prospect, 247Sports ranks Hutmacher among the nation’s top 45 defensive tackles, while Rivals lists him among the nation’s top 55 defensive tackles.
Marvin Scott III comes to Nebraska after one of the most prolific careers by a running back in Florida prep history. Scott was a five-year varsity player, first making the varsity team as an eighth grader at Warner Christian Academy where he played three seasons. He made the jump to Florida’s largest class for his final two seasons at Spruce Creek High School.
Scott ran for 7,482 yards and scored 80 total touchdowns in his high school career, with his rushing total unofficially ranking sixth in Florida high school history, according to records kept by floridapreprecords.com. In two years at Class 8A Spruce Creek – his junior and senior seasons – Scott rushed for more than 2,700 yards and scored 34 touchdowns. He led the area with 1,477 rushing yards as a senior, while scoring 18 touchdowns, averaging 7.7 yards per carry and catching nine passes for 110 yards. As a junior at Spruce Creek, Scott was a first-team all-area and third-team all-state selection after rushing for 1,226 yards and 16 touchdowns. Scott began his prep career by leading the area with 1,736 rushing yards as an eighth grader at Class 2A Warner Christian Academy, where he played on the varsity for three seasons and rushed for nearly 4,800 yards.
In addition to his success on the football field, Scott was also a state champion weightlifter. As a junior, Scott claimed the top spot in the 199-pound weightlifting division with a total of 700 pounds in the bench press (405) and clean/jerk (295). His 405-pound bench press was the best mark of anyone in his weight class or below and the eighth-best mark overall among the more than 300 competitors at the state championships. His individual efforts helped Spruce Creek claim the team title.
Scott is a consensus three-star recruit who had more than two dozen other scholarship offers, including Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Tennessee and Utah.
Blaise Gunnerson comes to Nebraska after starring at Kuemper Catholic High School in Iowa. Gunnerson is the lone Iowa native in the Huskers’ early signing class, and he was selected to play in the All-American Bowl in January, which features the country’s top 100 seniors.
Gunnerson totaled 47 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks as a senior, while also catching 11 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Gunnerson missed his junior season with an injury. Despite battling injuries during his prep career, Gunnerson was the first Kuemper Catholic High football player to earn an FBS scholarship in at least 20 years.
A three-star prospect, Gunnerson is ranked among the nation’s top 25 defensive ends by both Rivals and 247Sports, while 247Sports lists him among the nation’s top 280 overall recruits. Gunnerson also visited in-state schools Iowa and Iowa State, and he also had offers from Kansas State and Minnesota, among others.
Record-setting running back Sevion Morrison comes to Lincoln from Edison High School in Tulsa, Okla., where he set the school record for career rushing yards.
Morrison ran for more than 5,000 yards at Edison High School, becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher early in his senior season. Morrison broke the previous record (4,009) held by Spencer Tillman, who went on to become an All-America running back at Oklahoma and a Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers. As a senior, Morrison had 183 carries for 1,798 yards, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry while scoring 26 touchdowns. He also caught eight passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns and was named the district offensive player of the year in addition to winning the Ford Award as the player of the year in Northeast Oklahoma.
Morrison was the state’s leading rusher as a junior, rushing for 2,728 yards with 39 total touchdowns while averaging 12.8 yards per carry to help the Eagles reach the state playoffs for the first time in four years. He also caught seven passes for 205 yards and averaged 27.2 yards on five punt returns. He was named to the Tulsa World all-state first team as a junior, and he was also one of five finalists for the organization’s offensive player-of-the-year award. Morrison also rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore, when he was an honorable-mention all-state pick.
Morrison, who had two dozen scholarship offers, chose the Huskers over Baylor, Kansas State, Minnesota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, among others. A consensus four-star recruit, Morrison is ranked among the nation’s top 250 overall recruits and among the top 15 running backs by Rivals, while 247Sports lists him among the nation’s top 270 recruits and top 25 running backs.
Niko Cooper joins the Huskers after spending the past two seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. He redshirted in his first season at Hutchinson, giving him three years of eligibility at Nebraska.
This past fall, Cooper totaled 24 tackles from his defensive end position for the Blue Dragons. He added nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks while forcing a pair of fumbles. Cooper played his prep ball for Douglas High School in Memphis.
Cooper is ranked as a three-star recruit, and 247Sports lists him as the No. 3 weakside defensive end prospect from the junior college ranks. He chose Nebraska after also taking visits to Kansas State, Texas Tech and Maryland, according to Hutchinson coach Rion Rhoades.
Jimari Butler comes to Lincoln after receiving several Power Five scholarship offers despite playing only one season of high school football.
Butler played only his senior season at Murphy High School, but he made a big impact in his lone year on the football team. In 10 regular-season games, Butler totaled 60 tackles with 22 TFLs, 14.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hurries, and including the playoffs he finished with more than 18 sacks. Before his breakout senior season, Butler had not played football since seventh grade, instead focusing on basketball.
A three-star recruit, Butler is ranked among the top 30 weakside defensive ends by Rivals. He chose Nebraska over Kansas, Indiana, TCU and Tennessee, among others.
Will Nixon joins the Huskers as a wide receiver after primarily playing running back in his senior season at Midway High School.
Nixon’s versatility was on display as a senior when he accounted for 2,087 yards from scrimmage and 29 total touchdowns. Despite beginning the year at wide receiver, Nixon rushed for 1,837 yards and 27 touchdowns, and he also totaled 250 receiving yards en route to earning district MVP honors. As a junior, Nixon primarily lined up at wide receiver and caught 40 passes for 500 yards and rushed 25 times for 400 yards with 10 total touchdowns.
Nixon is regarded as a three-star prospect and is ranked among the nation’s top 100 wide receivers by Rivals. He chose Nebraska over Baylor, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Penn State, among several others.
Jaiden Francois was a versatile performer at South Dade High School, where he played safety, cornerback and nickel for the Buccaneers.
Francois intercepted two passes as a senior and was a shut-down player in the secondary, as teams rarely threw his way when he was lined up at cornerback, according to his high school coach Rudy Trevino. As a junior, Francois set a Dade County all-time record with 13 interceptions.
A consensus four-star recruit, Francois is ranked among the nation’s top 200 players by 247Sports and in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He is listed as the No. 25 safety in the country by 247Sports and as the No. 27 cornerback by Rivals. Francois had offers from several top programs, but he chose Nebraska over Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, among others.
Eteva Mauga-Clements spent the past three seasons at Diablo Valley College in California and will have two seasons of eligibility with the Huskers. Mauga-Clements entered the Diablo Valley program as a safety and redshirted in his first year.
Mauga-Clements had an impressive final season at Diablo Valley in 2019, when he was the Bay 6 Conference defensive player of the year. He made 61 tackles with 23 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, leading the Vikings in all three categories, as he had four more sacks than any other player and 12 more TFLs. Mauga-Clements also forced one fumble and blocked two kicks. In his first year at Diablo Valley, Mauga-Clements recorded 21 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He totaled 82 tackles, 29.5 TFLs and 8.5 sacks in 18 career games at Diablo Valley. A native of American Samoa, Mauga-Clements joined the Vikings after playing his high school ball for College Park in Pleasant Hill, Calif.
A four-star recruit, Mauga-Clements chose Nebraska over offers from San Diego State, South Alabama and Southern Miss, among others. Before choosing the Huskers, Mauga-Clements had recently received offers from most Pac-12 schools, according to his Diablo Valley Coach Mike Darr.
Marcus Fleming joins the Huskers after winning a state championship as a senior for Miami Northwestern High School.
Entering the state title game in mid-December, Fleming led Miami Northwestern with 51 catches and 887 receiving yards as a senior, catching eight touchdown passes. He also averaged 45.7 yards on 10 kickoff returns, including a 97-yard touchdown. Fleming played his junior season at Southridge High School. He played for Miami Senior High School as a sophomore, catching 22 passes for 692 yards and eight touchdowns.
A four-star recruit, Fleming is ranked among the top 150 players in the country by 247Sports, which also lists him among the top 25 wide receivers nationally. Fleming had numerous scholarship offers and chose Nebraska over several other top programs, including Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and Penn State.
Ronald Delancy III joins the Huskers after being a part of three state championship teams during his prep career.
Delancy starred for coach Max Edwards at Miami Northwestern as a junior and senior, winning back-to-back state titles. Delancy played both corner and safety for Northwestern, and he recorded more than 50 tackles as a senior. He was a playmaker in the secondary for the Bulls, totaling more than a dozen passes defended with four interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. He also recorded one safety and blocked three field goals. Delancy helped Northwestern to a 5A state championship as a senior and a 6A state title as a junior. He began his career at Carol City High School, which won the 6A state championship in his freshman season.
Delancy, a consensus three-star recruit, had numerous offers and chose Nebraska over Louisville, Miami, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Washington State, among others.
Chicago native Alante Brown comes to Nebraska after attending St. Thomas More Prep school in Connecticut.
Brown helped St. Thomas More to an 8-1 record in 2019, which included the Chancellors snapping Choate Rosemary Hall’s 48-game win streak in a game where Brown had a pair of touchdown catches. Brown originally signed with Texas Tech in 2019 before deciding to attend prep school.
In high school, Brown was a quarterback for Simeon High in Chicago. A three-year starter, he led the Wolverines to a city championship and the Class 7A state quarterfinals as a senior, when Simeon finished with an 11-1 record. Brown threw for 41 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more scores as a senior, earning all-state honors.
Brown is considered a four-star recruit by 247Sports, and the organization also listed him as a four-star recruit out of high school when it tabbed him as the No. 215 overall recruit in the 2019 class. Brown chose Nebraska after also taking official visits to Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Michigan State.
Alex Conn was an all-state performer for Derby High School, helping the Panthers to back-to-back perfect seasons in Kansas’ largest class (6A).
As a senior, Conn helped Derby finish with a 13-0 record and a second straight state title. With Conn paving the way, Derby averaged 54 points and more than 500 yards of offense per game. The Panthers, who averaged 60 points per game in the playoffs, became the first 6A school in Kansas history to outscore every opponent by at least three touchdowns. In the state final against Olathe North, Derby set Class 6A state championship game records with 63 points and 674 yards. Conn was named a first-team all-state selection as a senior. He also helped Derby to a 13-0 record and a state title as a junior, when he was an honorable-mention all-state pick.
Conn is rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports. Rivals lists Conn as one of the top five players in Kansas, while 247Sports regards Conn as one of the nation’s top 60 offensive tackle recruits. He chose Nebraska over several other scholarship offers, including Arizona, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU.
From the Channel 8 Sports Team: