LINCOLN — Full confession: I didn't get to see Omaha Burke's Trey Carr in a football game last year. But I heard from more than a few — including my boss — who did.
The general consensus: Carr was the best two-way player in the Metro. Wide receiver and cornerback. And the 5-foot-11 175-pounder was the best two-way player in the state other than Josh Banderas. As a junior, Carr had five interceptions on defense and 51 catches on offense. Through the continuing Internet miracle of Hudl highlight films, you can see that Carr seems to have the “it” factor.
“He just has great ability,” Burke coach Paul Limongi said of Carr, who also plays basketball and will run track for the first time this spring. “Extra fast feet. Good hips. Great field awareness. He's able to judge balls and he's good at the point of contact.”
Will there be a spot in Nebraska's 2014 recruiting class for a kid like Carr? There's a chance.
With Ciante Evans, Andrew Green, Mo Seisay and Stanley Jean-Baptiste exhausting their eligibility after next season, NU will need corners in its 2014 class. And secondary coach Terry Joseph has already been busy offering several corners — most from the South — to prepare.
They won't be easy to pluck from the SEC and ACC. They never are. Joseph had a hidden gem commit in Jonathan Cook for two months, only for Alabama to finally offer the guy and immediately flip him.
So Carr, along with Lincoln Southeast's Luke Gifford and Millard North's Clay Fisher, are local options who, if they perform well at camp and keep getting better on the field, have a chance to headline the state's best crop of players since 2008.
Already, Nebraska has offered Lincoln Southeast guard D.J. Foster. Millard West defensive end Harrison Phillips — drawing interest from several BCS-level programs — is another target to watch. Both attended NU's recent Junior Day, as did Carr.
At his signing day press conference, NU coach Bo Pelini said the in-state talent pool is better than it has been in years past. Considering Nebraska signed 25 players altogether in the 2013 class, and only Banderas got a scholarship among in-state players, it couldn't get much weaker.
Just how big of a class Pelini signs in 2014 depends on potential attrition, summer transfers and whether Bo chooses to put non-senior walk-ons on scholarship. Right now, 20 signees for 2014 would be pushing it, so NU will have to be selective, yet persistent, at cornerback and offensive line, where more scholarship bodies are needed.
Here are some early out-of-state targets for 2014. This list expands greatly after the spring evaluation period, so these prospects are the kinds of guys who already have visited — or players Nebraska wouldn't mind seeing for the second Junior Day or the spring game.
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NU'S SPHERE OF INFLUENCE
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>> Kalen Ballage, 6-foot-2/215 pounds, LB, Falcon, Colo.: When a guy this big runs the 40 under 4.4 seconds, you offer. Area schools did, followed by Nebraska and Michigan. This player from just outside Colorado Springs should be a top priority for NU's staff. I'd rate him as a four-star athlete — at least — though somehow recruiting sites haven't ranked him yet.
>> Drew Brown, 5-10/160, K, Southlake (Texas) Carroll: The younger brother of Kris Brown has Nebraska in his blood. He's expected to be one of the top 2014 kickers in the country.
>> RaShaan Gaulden, 6-1/178, CB, Spring Hill, Tenn.: NU's Joseph will have to outduel Tennessee and Ole Miss for this lanky, athletic corner.
>> Monte Harrison, WR, 6-3/185, Lee's Summit, Mo.: The Kansas City three-sport star visited on Junior Day and wants to play football and baseball in college. Nebraska's willing to accommodate.
>> Adoree' Jackson, 5-10/175, CB, and Dwight Williams, 6-1/212, LB, Gardena (Calif.) Serra: They're not necessarily a package deal, but Nebraska would love to have both. The five-star Jackson's a track star who also plays a physical man corner. Williams plays a lot like recent NU signee Courtney Love. Current Husker linebacker Thomas Brown hails from Serra.
>> Jamarco Jones, OT, 6-5/285, Chicago De La Salle: NU needs four-year tackles and Jones, a bright kid with good physicality, is apparently willing to visit Lincoln. The Huskers will have to beat Ohio State and Michigan, among others, for Jones.
>> Christian McCaffrey, 6-0/190, RB, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian: The speedy son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey is likely to include Nebraska on a long spring tour he's making of potential suitors. Boise State, Stanford and Oregon, among others, have their hats in the ring.
>> Greg Miclisse, 6-1/235, LB, Palm Bay (Fla.): He'll be a tough pull from SEC or ACC country, but Nebraska did offer relatively early. Big-time run stuffer.
>> Dimonic McKinzy, 6-0/205, CB/QB, Kansas City (Kan.) Wyandotte: Another Kansas City-area talent who could fit a variety of roles at NU. Probably needs to polish his passing to be a quarterback prospect.
>> Peyton Newell, 6-3/280, DT, Hiawatha, Kan.: He's visited Nebraska for a game and Junior Day, already amassing an impressive offer list that includes Oklahoma, South Carolina and UCLA. He's a good athlete for his position, and his hometown is just two hours from Lincoln.
>> Nico Pierre, QB, 6-2/210, Miami (Fla.) Coral Reef: Almost effortlessly throws a big deep ball. More a scrambler than a runner. His offense mirrors Nebraska's. Tim Beck, NU's offensive coordinator, has found one under the radar. NU offered Coral Reef wide receiver James McCrary, too. Kansas State, Duke and Louisville have also offered. Remember that Duke's head coach, David Cutcliffe, coached Peyton and Eli Manning. Watch this one closely. Pierre has tools.
>> Braden Smith, OT, 6-6/285, Olathe (Kan.) South: A consensus five-star talent with a great frame and nasty streak, Smith has offers from every big program in the Midwest. Pelini's heavily involved in Smith's recruiting along with John Garrison.
>> Dylan Sumner-Gardner, 6-1/195, DB, West Mesquite (Texas): Nebraska plucked Dimarya Mixon out of this school late in the 2013 process, which should create a relationship to get Sumner-Gardner, who recently decommitted from Clemson. Texas A&M and Notre Dame are in the mix.
>> Parrker Westphal, 6-1, 190, CB, Bolingbrook, Ill.: Nebraska's been pursuing Westphal for more than a year. Very physical, no-nonsense player. Takes risks.
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