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Quarterback Aaron Bailey leads the big names in town to see Nebraska's spring game.
Nebraska recruiting coordinator Ross Els reasons that Husker football holds two advantages in recruiting over almost any other school in the country, facilities and fan support.
That’s why the annual Red-White spring game has evolved into an important recruiting weekend for Nebraska.
“When we get kids from out of state and they see our facilities they just say, ‘Dang, you guys got it all, this may be better than everyone else,’” Els said. “Then we go into the game on a game day or the spring game when there’s hopefully 60,000 people there and they just go, ‘Dang, this is pretty important and I want to be part of it.’”
Els and the Husker staff have assembled a strong group of unofficial visitors including four-star quarterback Aaron Bailey, four-star linebacker Josh Banderas, three-star linebacker Courtney Love, three-star defensive end Joe Mathis and three-star running back Terrell Newby.
Bailey, the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback as ranked by 247Sports, is excited to visit Lincoln after conversations with Nebraska assistant John Garrison and Husker offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
The Bolingbrook, Ill., resident picked up a Nebraska offer in February and has continued to build a relationship with Nebraska.
“I’ve been receiving letters from them, I’ve spoken with them and I like the style of offense,” he said. “I know that their academics are top notch. I just want to get a look at it for myself and see. Then we’ll figure out what I want to major in.”
This is a Big Ten battle, with Nebraska sparring with Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin for Bailey.
Terrell Newby traveled from Los Angles for Nebraska's spring game.
Banderas will be the highest-profile in-state recruit at the spring game. This is just another unofficial visit for Banderas, who has seen several practices this spring and attended Nebraska’s junior day on Feb. 18.
The inside linebacker from Lincoln Southwest is the No. 152 player overall in the country according to 247Sports. Banderas committed to Nebraska just days before the spring game.
Another Big Ten battle is ongoing over Courtney Love. The linebacker from Youngstown, Ohio, is joining teammate and Nebraska commit Marcus McWilson at the spring game. Both players attend Cardinal Mooney, the alma mater of Bo Pelini, Beck and several Nebraska players.
Love is being courted by Ohio State and for now the Huskers rank squarely behind the Buckeyes for the outside linebacker.
Two players are coming out from Los Angeles for the spring game. Mathis, a defensive end for Upland High, might be the most sought-after player attending the game. Mathis holds 33 offers and turned down invites from Alabama, Oklahoma and USC to be in Lincoln this weekend.
Mathis said his friends in California might not understand why he holds Nebraska in such high regard, but he’s excited to see the atmosphere for himself.
“People love football out there,” Mathis said. “That’s the type of guy I am. I’m not the type of guy that’s all flash and everything with the big lights and buildings. I’m the type of guy who wants to get to the next level and with Nebraska, they get people there. People don’t understand that, but I get it and I like Nebraska a lot.”
Fellow California and Chaminade running back Newby understands. It’s why he chose to visit Nebraska over a few other games Saturday.
Jahlil Okafor is 247Sports' No. 2 player in the country for the 2014 class. He'll be in Lincoln on Saturday.
“I know it is going to be great and I’m going to be really amazed,” Newby said. “Just to be in one of the most sacred places of college football is going to be awesome. I just want to be part of the whole ambiance, especially the spring game. I just want to be part of that.”
Also visiting this weekend: Nathan Gerry, 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, athlete, Washington High, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Trent Gow, 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, tight end, Mansfield (Texas) High; Jerald Foster, 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, guard, Lincoln Southeast; Jerel Morrow, 6-foot, 180 pounds, athlete, Emporia (Kan.) High; Naim Mustafaa, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, four-star defensive end, Alpharetta (Ga.) High; A.J. Natter, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, three-star defensive end, Milton (Wisc.) High.
Five-star talent to see Lincoln
Perhaps the most talented individual to see Nebraska this weekend will be Jahlil Okafor, a 6-foot-10 center who is the No. 2 player in the country in his class according to 247Sports.
The highly acclaimed basketball player will be checking out Nebraska’s facilities and the spring game along with four other Chicago area basketball players, Sterling Brown, Josh Cunningham, Kyle Davis and Russell Woods.
The collection of 2013 and 2014 basketball recruits have ties to new Nebraska assistant Ronald “Chin” Coleman. The former Mac Irvin AAU coach worked with players like Oakfor before taking an assistant position with Tim Miles at Colorado State.
One 2012 player on-hand is Deverell Biggs. The junior college point guard is making an official visit to Nebraska this weekend and could make a commitment to the program. Biggs is a former Omaha Central Eagle, winning the title in 2010. He played for Texas Western in 2011 and Seward County Community College this past season.
Biggs wants to return back to Nebraska to play in-front of his home state crowd. He’d have three years to play two seasons.
A former Central teammate, Akoy Agau could be on hand as well. The current star of the Central team and 2013 recruit, Agau is one of the top prospects for Miles first full class.