LINCOLN — Eric Garror said he blocked six field goals during his senior season at McGill-Toolen Catholic in Mobile, Alabama. He returned four punts for touchdowns, grabbed five interceptions and, on a dead sprint, ran down a breakaway ball-carrier and punched the ball out of his grasp.
Usually, when players in Alabama do all that, they have major college recruiters all over them. The 5-foot-9, 173-pound Garror believes his size and preferred position — cornerback — kept him under the radar of most FBS and FCS programs. He doesn’t have a recruiting rating, either.
So, as of this week, he was considering offers from FCS schools Richmond and Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Chattanooga was in the mix, too.
Then Nebraska coach Scott Frost walked into Garror’s school Wednesday with defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. They were there to check in on a top 2019 defensive tackle but also to speak to Garror. He didn’t get a scholarship offer, but he might. And he said NU wants him on an official visit.
“It’s a good feeling to me,” Garror said over lunch. “I never thought a Power Five school like Nebraska would ever talk to me because of my size. It tells me I have game and people believe in me.”
This is one story of Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class. Frost and folks are open to every option of reshaping the roster in short order. NU has already accepted two transfers from four-year schools — UCF’s Noah Vedral and Mississippi’s Breon Dixon — and five junior college transfers. Out of that five, two — Will Honas and Mike Williams — went to junior college to improve their recruiting profiles.
And then there’s Avon (Conn.) Old Farms defensive end Casey Rogers, who committed to Nebraska Tuesday. He was originally a Syracuse lacrosse commit before choosing to spend one year at Avon, a throwback prep school better known for producing top hockey players.
That’s eight non-traditional additions to Nebraska’s roster in just a few months. And although Clearwater (Florida) International’s Habakkuk Baldonado technically attends high school, his path to a Husker offer is strange.
He’s originally from Rome, Italy, and he’s playing his first year of football in the United States.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end — who goes by “Abba” — picked up the game four years ago after watching several football movies — “Remember The Titans” and Adam Sandler’s “The Longest Yard” — and games. He also grew out of playing Italy’s No. 1 sport, soccer. He found a local American football team in Rome.
“Pass rushing is almost all I did,” Baldonado said. “I was good at it.”
A former teammate on the Italian national team had played at Clearwater Academy International, which just completed its second year of 11-man football. Baldonado got his visa and left home.
He had 30-1/2 sacks in his one season at Clearwater. That got the attention of Pittsburgh, Illinois, Cincinnati and others, including Central Florida’s former staff. Which is now the staff at Nebraska. Which offered Baldonado on Tuesday.
He’s scheduled to take an official visit to Michigan State this weekend and Nebraska on Feb. 2. By then, the Huskers may already know whether two other top pass rushing prospects, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Caleb Tannor, are leaning toward Nebraska or looking elsewhere.
As for Garror, he’ll have to wait and see if NU comes through with a scholarship offer. He plays corner, a position of need. Nebraska’s top cornerback target, Taiyon Palmer, just visited the Huskers but got scholarship offers from Clemson, Notre Dame and Tennessee last week.
How did Nebraska find Garror? The UCF connection. Garror’s former high school teammate, Marlon Williams, was a freshman receiver for the Knights. Williams told Nebraska’s coaches Garror could play, so Frost made a stop.
It’s hard to ignore a 5-9 guy who blocks six kicks.
“Stay low and fly off the ball,” Garror said.