... Or, to put it another way, ranking Nebraska's top 20 Husker recruits since Ndamukong Suh.
Suh was a member of the giant, highly-rated 2005 recruiting class — a class that had its supporters and detractors, but produced a Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (Zac Taylor) and Suh, who won just about every major defensive award there was to win.
Since that class, NU has had ten classes, 2006-2015. From that bunch, I picked 20. Certainly, there are going to be a few that raise your hackles. Feel free to debate and quibble in the comments section.
The top 20 was picked based on on-field contributions to the program, the amount of time in the program — which, obviously, favors high school recruits slightly — the leadership factor they provided, and their position.
And it doesn't include walk-ons. That's a different list for a different day. Those guys deserve their own list, although at least two — Spencer Long and Alex Henery — probably would have made this list.
Here we go:
20. Offensive tackle Nick Gates (2014 class): Too early? Maybe. But of all the players selected in the 2014 recruiting class, Gates appears headed for the most stable and promising career after starting at right tackle as a redshirt freshman. Gates had his share of dominant moments last season, and NU had to battle hard to land the Las Vegas Bishop Gorman star. The Huskers beat out Oregon and Texas A&M, among other schools.
19. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong (2012 class): However you feel about the guy, he's likely to be a four-year starter and he has a realistic chance at 30 career wins as a starter. Armstrong picked NU early in the process, over Southern Mississippi and Oregon, among others.
18. Safety Larry Asante (2007 class): The rare junior college player who played for three years out of Coffeyville (Kan.) College. Asante started 36 games, including 14 games on that elite 2009 unit. He picked Nebraska over Clemson.
17. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste (2010 class): He's not one of the 20 best players in the last ten years, but Jean-Baptiste makes the list because Nebraska plucked him from total obscurity out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and turned him into an all-conference player by his senior year. Jean-Baptiste didn't even play at Fort Scott; he just practiced there, thus he was a four-year player at NU.
16. Defensive end Pierre Allen (2006 class): Better known as a basketball player in high school, Allen started 39 games in his career, played on NU's two best defenses in 2009 and 2010, and finished with 36 career tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He only visited Nebraska out of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver.
15. Jordan Westerkamp (2012 class): The first of several receivers on this list, Westerkamp has some of the best hands of any Husker in recent memory and he runs good routes. He's caught 129 passes for nearly 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught the Hail Mary in the 2013 Northwestern game. Westerkamp picked Nebraska over Notre Dame and others in a dramatic recruiting process.
14. Maliek Collins (2013 class): Lightly recruited out of Kansas City (Mo.) Center High School, Collins never redshirted and started for the last two seasons. He was NU's best interior lineman in that time and he declared early for the NFL Draft after the 2015 season.
13. Defensive end Randy Gregory (2013 class): The best pass rusher — outside of Suh — to play at Nebraska since the turn of the century. Gregory was at Arizona Western College when he flipped from Purdue to Nebraska and he proceeded to go on a tear that first year with 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. In 2014, Gregory struggled with a variety of issues, but still had seven sacks and ten tackles for loss. His presence also made it easier for Collins to rush the passer.
12. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (2008 class): Big Ten defensive back of the year in 2011, Dennard started 32 games over three years. As a freshman, he was valuable on special teams. From a small town in Georgia, Dennard picked Nebraska over North Carolina and a few other schools that didn't offer because of concerns over academics. Dennard made to NU and shined there.
11. Wide receiver Niles Paul (2007 class): Paul's freshman year was unfortnately wasted on a handful of plays by Bill Callahan, which is too bad, but in his final three years, he was a major weapon as a receiver and a kick returner. Paul returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns — all were in relatively close games, too — and caught 103 passes for 1,532 yards and five touchdowns. Paul's numbers were limited, to some degree, by playing with five different starting quarterbacks over four seasons. Give Paul in his prime a few years with Joe Ganz, and the numbers would have looked much different. Out of Omaha North, Paul picked Nebraska over Michigan.
10. Linebacker Will Compton (2008): Underrated for his entire career at NU, Compton finished with 247 career tackles after starting 37 games. Compton was also a vocal leader in the program, a pick-me-up guy whom teammates rallied around. He's now a starter with the Washington NFL team. Compton picked Nebraska over home-state Missouri.
9. Wide receiver Kenny Bell (2010 class): Fast, funny and tough for a guy with his frame, Bell wasn't highly recruited after he got hurt early in his senior year, but he finished as NU's career receptions (181) and yardage (2,689) leader. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown at Penn State.
8. Quarterback Taylor Martinez (2009): You knew he'd show up. The California rocket, Martinez was the author of some of the greatest runs in Husker history and a few of the more boneheaded moments, too. His senior season cut short by a painful toe injury, Martinez nevertheless accounted for 56 passing touchdowns, 31 rushing touchdowns and a whopping 2,975 rushing yards. He picked Nebraska over Iowa State. He was another player who was lightly recruited.
7. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (2007 class): Amukamara was a Jim Thorpe finalist as a senior and one of the main reasons Nebraska was so stingy on defense in 2009 and 2010. His coverage skills gave the Husker pass rush time to get to the quarterback, and his interception in the 2009 Oklahoma game set up NU's only touchdown.
6. Safety Eric Hagg (2007 class): The key to Nebraska's "Peso" defense in 2009 and 2010, Hagg was a special safety/nickel/linebacker hybrid who could cover, tackle in space and occasionally rush the passer. He started 34 games, had 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups. As a senior he logged five interceptions. Hagg only visited Nebraska but had many West Coast offers, including ones from home state Arizona and Arizona State.
5. Running Back Rex Burkhead (2009 class): You still see that jersey of his all over Memorial Stadium. Burkhead was not the best back in Nebraska's recent run, but he had a folk hero status and he served as mentor to another player on this list. He was the very definition of a workhorse in 2011 when he carried the ball 284 times for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns. A knee injury sliced into his senior season, which could have been special. Out of Plano, Texas, Burkhead picked Nebraska over Texas A&M, Stanford and others.
4. Running Back Roy Helu (2007 class): Ran for 3,404 yards and 28 touchdowns while splitting time with Marlon Lucky and Rex Burkhead, both of whom were more highly-touted players than he. Helu was faster and quicker than both, and his school-record 307-yard game against Missouri gives him the slight edge over Burkhead.
3. Defensive tackle Jared Crick (2007 class): A crusher from Cozad, Crick started 33 games at Nebraska, including 19 after Suh left the program. His 2010 season — 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks — is one of the best seasons in Husker history for any defensive tackle. Only Suh's season in 2009 was clearly better.
2. Linebacker Lavonte David (2010 class): The best overall player since Suh, but David only had two seasons because he came from Fort Scott. But what a two seasons they were. He had 285 tackles in two seasons, including 28 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He could cover tight ends and forced a key fumble in the 2011 Ohio State game that triggered the biggest comeback in school history. So instinctive that coach Bo Pelini couldn't help but play the guy even though David didn't have the whole defense mastered. One of the best pure football players in Husker history. Still — just two years.
No. 1 Ameer Abdullah (2011 class): No one worked harder on his craft than Abdullah, who beat out more highly-touted backs (Aaron Green and Braylon Heard, both of whom transferred) to secure the backup job to Rex Burkhead. After Burkhead got hurt in 2012, Abdullah took over, becoming the first Husker to have three 1,000 rushing seasons. He finished with 4,744 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 73 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown.