LINCOLN — Micah Parsons was the five-star prospect performing at Nebraska’s Friday Night Lights camp and, at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, athlete projects to play outside linebacker or defensive end in college.
In high school, well, Parsons can play any position he pleases. He proved that at NU. Instead of doing pass rush drills with the linemen or pass coverage drills with the running backs and linebackers, Parsons went to where the best athletes were working out. He went over to the wide receivers and defensive backs.
He wanted to play wideout against some of NU’s top defensive back commits and prospects. What a five-star wants on an unofficial visit, he gets. And Parsons, stunningly, got the better of just about every matchup.
He beat defensive back commit Mario Goodrich deep, but the ball was overthrown. He beat defensive back commit Chase Williams deep, and that pass was on the mark; Parsons caught it. He beat top Husker cornerback target Christian Tutt — an impressive player — deep, too.
Parsons only had the one move — run fast, go deep — but I’d like to know what his 40-yard dash time is. And I’d like to know which Big Ten tackles have the technique and athleticism to block him.
Coaches Mike Riley, Bob Diaco and Trent Bray were around Parsons all night. The fans knew who he was, too, and, more than once, Parsons played up to the crowd.
“Nebraska love is really different!” Parsons wrote on Twitter.
So different that maybe NU earns an official visit from Parsons in the fall, where it can continue to pursue him. Landing a top 10 national prospect isn’t easy. The Huskers haven’t done it since 2008 with Baker Steinkuhler, and Parsons’ dad wasn’t an All-American at Nebraska like Steinkuhler’s was. Penn State, Ohio State, Alabama and Florida State — all of those teams will take their crack at Parsons.
Other players shined on Friday night, too. It’s right to start with cornerback commit Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, a compact, smooth, smart player whose instincts and ball skills are rare. He had two interceptions, the second of which was textbook stuff, ducking in front of a pass at the last second. He knows how to play corner. He will likely compete to start in 2018; his game tape says as much and so do his performances at the FNL camps where he’s consistently the best player in every drill.
Of the other defensive backs, Tutt — a four-star from Thomson, Georgia, is a little bigger than Radley-Hiles and just as athletic. He’s not quite on Radley-Hiles’ level of instincts. IMG Academy’s Houston Griffith is long — 6-foot-2 — and he has natural change-of-direction skills. In his Hudl film, he’s a hitter, too.
Two NU defensive back commits — Goodrich and Williams — have natural athleticism. Williams, already a top receiver, is planning on playing corner in college. He’s learning a little, you can tell, but he has great closing speed.
A 2019 prospect who got an offer is Jordan Clark, son of former Steelers safety Ryan Clark. Jordan Clark is 5-11, 170 pounds and held his own. Nebraska is his best offer to date. He plays high school ball in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and his dad played at LSU. Another 2019 corner with an offer, St. Louis Trinity Catholic’s Isaiah Williams, is a strong competitor for 5-10, 165. Clark might be a little ahead, but Williams battled well in his reps. I didn’t get great looks at Detroit Cass Technical’s Xavier Goldsmith; he has an offer from Colorado and several MAC schools.
Among wideouts, Nebraska had two commits — Joshua Moore and Manuel Allen — on hand, and one former commit, Cameron Brown, was there, too. Brown worked out for wideouts coach Keith Williams and the two seemed to get along well.
There wasn’t much separation between the three — and that’s a good thing. All have good speed — Brown was a little faster. All change direction well. All can catch. Moore snaps off his routes a hair quicker and gets the ball at its highest point better, but Brown and Allen are right there, too. If Brown jumped back in the class, that’d be NU’s best class in some time.
Elkhorn South’s Moses Bryant — 5-11, 190 — looked the part, too. He had a good night, although he didn’t square off against some of the best defensive backs because he was placed in a different line where he worked as a defensive back. Once Bryant got over to the right line, he competed just fine. He’ll be, again, one of the best players in the state.
A 2019 four-star prospect, St. Louis Trinity Catholic’s Marcus Washington has a ton of potential on either side of the ball — he’s 6-2, 185 — but has to catch the ball better to stay at wideout. He might be a better safety.
A walk-on to potentially watch: Lincoln Southwest’s Justin Holm, who’s at least 6-foot-4, lean and catches the ball pretty well. He has a North Dakota offer. I’m not sure what level of football Lincoln High’s Zion Perry belongs at, but the 5-8, 160-pound athlete is fun to watch, and he’s fast.
Among tight ends, 2018 Norris standout Bryce Stai and 2019 Omaha Burke prospect Chris Hickman attended. Hickman, who has a Mississippi offer, showed well in drills and reportedly performed well during one-on-ones, though I didn’t get to see many of those. Hickman could be the third in-state player to merit an offer from the Huskers; Burke teammate Nick Heinrich was the first, while Scottsbluff’s Garrett Nelson followed.
There weren’t a ton of top-end offensive linemen at the event, but Husker commit Will Farniok worked out. He’ll be a center, most likely; he came in at 6-3, 260. His older brother, Matt, is an offensive tackle at Nebraska. And then there was Mekhi Butler from Omaha North, a 2019 prospect who got a lot of attention from Mike Cavanaugh, who clearly saw a giant frame worth molding. Butler will be one to watch at North, which traditionally churns out some of the state’s best offensive linemen.
At quarterback, Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s Max Duggan — a 2019 prospect with offers from Nebraska, Iowa and Iowa State, among others — showed off a live arm, but was throwing against some elite defensive backs, too. It wasn’t as easy for any of the quarterbacks. Graham Mertz, a 2019 prospect out of Blue Valley (Kansas) North High School, had some moments. He has a Kansas offer and recently camped at Minnesota, which has also offered Duggan.
Omaha North may have the state’s two best running backs — one a smaller and quicker senior (Milton Sargbah) and one more of a heavy-hitting junior (Zander Gray). Both appeared at the camp. Gray has light feet for a guy north of 230 pounds.
Among defensive linemen, Nebraska commit Tate Wildeman, who worked out, was the best-looking guy there. Wildeman is a big guy — Jared Crick tall — and once he puts on weight, he’ll be a sturdy 3-4 defensive end.
One more name to watch for the future: Millard South’s Kohl Herbolsheimer, a 6-2, 245-pound athlete who is entering his sophomore year of high school. He has some power and size, and if he continues to grow, he could be an FBS prospect.
Where do you think 2019 Lewis Central QB Max Duggan will commit?
Council Bluffs Lewis Central's Max Duggan has offers from the local Division I football teams — Nebraska, Iowa and Iowa State. Where will the 2019 QB commit?