Husker commits

From left: Garrett Nelson, Ethan Piper and Garrett Snodgrass on the sidelines before a Nebraska game this season. All three Husker commits are in the top five of the final 2019 player rankings.

The updated senior class player rankings mean some movement in the top 20 overall and among the best players at each position.

Forty-five seniors are ranked, five each at nine positions. The two positions not rated are kicker and punter. The class has five headliners all committed to Nebraska.

This is the first re-ranking since the preseason release in August, which led to plenty of debate.

Sign up for daily headlines from NEPrepZone

Get a daily roundup of game recaps, player features and more in your inbox.

All Huskers in top five

Scholarship offers play a big factor in these rankings, and that can make it a challenge when the five best players in the state are all headed to Nebraska. 

After much consideration, though, the preseason top five stayed the same in these final rankings — but it's a debate that will surely continue.

The easiest call was to keep Nick Henrich in the No. 1 spot because I feel he is the most college-ready player in the class. His natural instincts at finding the football are the reason he held nearly 20 power-conference scholarship offers. As good as he is as a football payer, his leadership on and off the field makes him stand out the most. Henrich might be slight for now, but that will change quickly once he starts to add muscle at Nebraska.

Garrett Nelson comes in at No. 2 because, like Henrich, he seems most prepared right now to play in a power conference. Nelson's pure passion for football, aggression and willingness to win make him ideal. In high school he used his strength to overpower opponents. Once he gets into a college system and learns to use proper technique he will be even better.

No. 3 Garrett Snodgrass is a throwback. He won't wow you in a combine setting but he shines on tape. Snodgrass broke seven school records this season and would have broken the career rushing, season scoring, and tackle record at York if not for a leg injury in week seven. Snodgrass stays at No. 3 due to his great high school career. Nebraska is recruiting him as an inside linebacker, but others recruited him as a tight end.

No. 4 Chris Hickman will need to add weight, but he has the ideal frame to do that. He has long strides and should fit right as a pass-catching tight end and could be an impact special teams player early in his career. If he gets big enough, Hickman could even move to outside linebacker, but he's set to begin his career on offense.

No. 5 Ethan Piper had over 100 tackles as a defensive tackle in Norfolk Catholic's 4-3 defense. For me, he translates to offensive guard in college more than a three-technique defensive lineman — so it will be interesting to see where Nebraska puts him. At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, Piper has the frame to quickly add strength and could make a quick impact after a potential redshirt season.

Deepest position

Linebacker. Seven of the top 20 are recruited as linebackers or played the position in high school. Henrich (Omaha Burke), Nelson (Scottsbluff) and Snodgrass (York) are committed to Nebraska at the position.

Thinnest position

Wide receiver. The 2019 class does not have a receiver with a power-conference scholarship offer. By comparison, the 2020 class already has two with offers from the highest level.

Biggest risers

Omaha Burke senior James Burks was the biggest riser after his strong senior season. Burks, a three-time state champion wrestler, moved from No. 15 overall to No. 9. He is undecided as to what he will do after high school, but he has taken official visits to Michigan State and Division II Northern State for wrestling. Nebraska has also had him on game-day visits for football.

Bellevue West receiver Shane Dailey returns to the top 20 after being in the initial 2019 rankings last fall. Dailey and York lineman Noah Stafursky are the lone newcomers to crack the top 20.

The Process

There is a formula that I use, and a big factor is scholarship offers. Look, college coaches make their living evaluating players. Yes, some coaches evaluate better than others, but nonetheless, to ignore the level of college offers would simply be wrong-headed.

I do take into account the fact that some really good players simply don't have a position at the next level. For instance, a fullback body is not at a premium at the highest college levels at the moment. That can hurt an athlete's offer list.

I have spent hours watching game film, I keep notes from observing practices, games and camps. I also get feedback from coaches who are typically very honest about their own players and players on teams they face. Coaches know it does no good to hype a player. No one wants to get a kid in over his head in college.

Realize that college football is no picnic, and the highest level can be brutal. It's always been my belief that some parents who want their sons ranked high so they can perhaps have a better chance at playing, say, in the Big Ten, for instance, might think twice after standing on the sideline for a game. But I digress.

Suffice it to say that more than 100 players in this senior class were considered for this iteration of the rankings.

The process of naming No. 1 starts with a look at the players returning from the previous year's All-Nebraska team as named by The World-Herald — a strong and time-honored process engineered annually by colleague Stu Pospisil — and those who are getting recruited by schools at the higher levels. From there, I review film, parse statistics and review all-state team nominations provided by coaches from every class. As part of my daily life, I also have routine conversations with high school and college coaches and confer with other sports writers.

Mike is a prep recruiting specialist for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MikeSautterOWH. Phone: 402-444-1335.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.