LINCOLN — The weekend hot streak for Nebraska's 2014 recruiting class continued late Sunday when Chicago De La Salle running back Mikale Wilbon committed to the Huskers on Twitter.
“I have officially committed to University of Nebraska! I appreciate the support I got from everyone during this process,” read Wilbon's tweet.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pounder — rated four stars by 247 Sports and Rivals and three stars by Scout and ESPN — took his official visit to Nebraska Jan. 17 after decommitting from Vanderbilt once coach James Franklin left for Penn State.
“He loved Coach Franklin, and when he left for Penn State, that really impacted his decision,” said Mike Boehm, who coached on the De La Salle staff in the fall and took over as head coach after the season. “He's a special player. Nebraska's going to love him. His drive. His leadership. He's one of those special backs. I'm glad he's playing in the Big Ten.”
Wilbon had offers from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas and Georgia Tech, among other schools. He gained more than 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons, but was sidelined late last fall by a minor knee injury, Boehm said. Wilbon was part of the “special mention” list on the Chicago Tribune's all-state team. Another NU pledge, Highland (Ill.) guard Tanner Farmer, was on the first team.
Wilbon's commitment comes on the heels of an official visit by another running back prospect, Dallas Carter High School athlete Corey Avery. Avery left NU this weekend without having committed because he has one more official visit left to Kansas.
With his commitment, Wilbon joined Houston-area running back Larenzo Stewart, who pledged to the Huskers during the summer. Presuming Stewart's pledge sticks, he, Wilbon and potentially Avery join a crowded 2014 backfield that thins considerably after the departure of All-Big Ten running back Ameer Abdullah and junior running back Imani Cross after the 2015 season.
Behind them, sophomore Terrell Newby ran for 298 yards in his first year, while Adam Taylor chose to redshirt, winning scout team offensive player of the year honors in the process. Husker coaches agreed to let Taylor redshirt; he likely would have pushed for playing time had he chosen to forgo it.
Nebraska now has eight offensive skill players — two backs, five wide receivers and quarterback Zack Darlington — enrolled or committed for the 2014 class. The Huskers appear willing to consider a second quarterback prospect, as well, having evaluated several in the last two weeks.
Friday, the Huskers picked up their third offensive line commitment for the class in Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star tackle Nick Gates, who picked Nebraska over Texas A&M, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona, among others.
New Orleans Edna Karr wide receiver Glenn Irons picked the Huskers on Saturday over offers from Western Kentucky, South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette. Irons, a three-star prospect according to ESPN but otherwise a two-star or unrated prospect, took his official visit with Edna Karr teammate and fellow Husker wide receiver pledge Jariah Tolbert. Irons told Huskers Illustrated he expects to play slot receiver and return kicks. Irons last year was a Louisiana all-state return specialist for Edna Karr, returning nine kickoffs or punts for touchdowns.
“They told me they wanted me in the slot, and in the backfield, and I was going to have the opportunity to return kicks as soon as I come in June,” Irons said.
Nebraska has desired a hybrid running back/wide receiver for several recruiting cycles, and may try Alexandria (Va.) West Potomac wide receiver pledge Demornay Pierson-El in that role, as well. Pierson-El played option quarterback for his team last year. Prior to his transfer to Kentucky, Nebraska attempted to transition Braylon Heard into such a hybrid role. Heard was stuck behind Abdullah on the depth chart.