LINCOLN — One of the nation's top junior college tackles strongly leaned toward Nebraska before his official visit Friday.
But the Huskers clinched Terrell Clinkscales' commitment as he watched Bo Pelini coach the team during NU's 38-17 loss to Iowa.
“Man, Coach Bo is going to fight to the death for his team,” said Clinkscales, a 6-foot-3, 317-pounder from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College. “He doesn't take any BS.”
Clinkscales, the No. 1 juco tackle according to 247Sports and a four-star prospect, announced his decision Sunday night on Twitter but talked to The World-Herald hours earlier. He joined Pflugerville (Texas) safety Chance Waz — who flipped his commit from Colorado — as commits one day after Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst affirmed that Pelini would be Nebraska's coach into the future. NU has 17 commits for the 2014 class.
Clinkscales, a native of Chicago, will have two seasons of eligibility. He migrated to Dodge City after stops at two other junior colleges, one of which shut down its football program.
The school switches — and perhaps concerns about whether he'd academically qualify — left him under the radar with some recruiting services. His first official visit this year was to Iowa State, and Kansas State was one of Clinkscales' two finalists. A May graduate, Clinkscales has said repeatedly he's confident he'll qualify.
Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State and Oregon were among the teams that offered as Clinkscales' season progressed. He finished with 64 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, all from an interior tackle spot that rarely produces such numbers against the spread offenses popular in junior college.
He said Nebraska has been atop his list since high school, when he followed former Husker Ndamukong Suh. Clinkscales said he fits into Nebraska's scheme, as well. Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski is a big proponent of the “heavy” technique — which teaches defensive linemen to aggressively engage offensive linemen, extend with their arms and make plays accordingly, using their hands to disengage from blocks. NU's linemen rarely shoot gaps, preferring to create opportunities for linebackers to make tackles.
Clinkscales said he's all for it.
“A lot of the things he coaches in his drills I feel like I can do pretty well,” Clinkscales said. “Coach Kaz is a loyal guy, too,”
Nebraska envisions Clinkscales as a three-down player, he said, but hasn't promised him a starting job or even significant playing time. He'll have to earn it against young, developing tackles like Aaron Curry, Maliek Collins, Kevin Maurice, Kevin Williams and Vincent Valentine. Valentine played his best game of the year against Iowa, finishing with a sack and two tackles for loss. Clinkscales said he forged a quick friendship with Valentine, one of the few players as big as he is.
“We can definitely change the Big Ten,” he said.
Waz, a 5-11, 173-pound three-star prospect, changed his commit from CU to NU Sunday. Waz visited NU on Nov. 16 with his teammate and fellow Husker commit Trai Mosley. At Pflugerville Hendrickson High School — 15 miles from the University of Texas — Waz finished with 116 tackles as a junior, winning all-district honors.
This year, Hendrickson finished 10-1, losing in the first round of the Texas 5A Division II playoffs. Waz was defensive player of the year in his district, finishing with eight interceptions and three forced fumbles. He didn't know his tackle total.
Waz committed Sunday, calling NU coaches as they went into a meeting. Nebraska will make its in-home visit with Waz on Tuesday. Waz said he switched from Colorado to Nebraska because the Huskers won more and had better tradition and fan intensity.
“Every team wants to win, but they're serious at Nebraska,” Waz said. “I love the passion. It's crazy up there.”
NU coaches, he said, project him as a safety and perhaps a nickel back. The Huskers return five safeties — Corey Cooper, Harvey Jackson, LeRoy Alexander, D.J. Singleton and Drake Martinez — along with four corners — Josh Mitchell, Johnathan Rose, Daniel Davie and Boaz Joseph. Charles Jackson is athletic enough to play either spot. Among those 10, only Mitchell, Cooper, Jackson and Alexander have significant experience on defense.
“The defense Nebraska runs, it's a like a 4-2-5 and they play a lot of DBs,” Waz said. “There are a lot of opportunities for me play early if I earn it. They like how I can come down and make tackles, but they also like my coverage skills.”