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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Front row, from left: Sam Sims, Grand Island; Dietrick Stolz, Grand Island Central Catholic; James Burks, Omaha Burke; Dylan Sales, Omaha Burke; Shane Dailey, Bellevue West; Jarod Epperson, Omaha Skutt. Second row, from left: D.J. Gross, McCook; Garrett Snodgrass, York; Xavier Watts, Omaha Burke; Jevyon Ducker, Bellevue West; Kohl Herbolsheimer, Millard South; Alex Rodgers, Omaha Roncalli. Third row, from left: Joseph Krause, Seward; Ethan Piper, Norfolk Catholic; Nick Henrich, Omaha Burke; Garrett Nelson, Scottsbluff; Chris Hickman, Omaha Burke. Back row, from left: Zavier Betts, Bellevue West; Mehki Butler, Omaha North; Caden Johnson, Wahoo Neumann; Tyson Gordon, Omaha Skutt; Baylor Scheierman, Aurora; Noah Stafursky, York. Not pictured: Isaiah Alford, Lincoln High
Like the burr oaks at Mahoney State Park that were the backdrop for this photo, the 2017 All-Nebraska football team branched out with players from the Wyoming state line to the Missouri River.
The 2016 All-Nebraska football team "earned their wings" at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
Back row from left: York's Masry Mapieu, Bellevue West's Sylvo Johnson, Lincoln East's Chris Walker, Gretna's Patrick Arnold, Bellevue West's Tyler Ciurej, Omaha Burke's Cole Frahm, Wilber-Clatonia's Riley Homolka, Norfolk's Lane McCallum, Ashland-GW's Brett Kitrell, and Beatrice's Cam Jurgens.
Middle row from left: Kearney's Noah Urbanek, Bellevue West's Jaylin Bradley, Omaha North's Kendrick Parker, Omaha North's Milton Sargbah, Elkhorn South's Moses Bryant, Omaha Skutt's Christian Banker, and Creighton Prep's AJ Hubner.
Front row from left: Wahoo Neumann's Noah Vedral, Omaha North's Zion Williams, Bellevue West's Diego Galvan, McCook's Zach Schlager, Bellevue West's Kevin Ponec, Norris' Austin Schultz, and Millard North's Jack Begley.
The 2015 All-Nebraska football team gathered at Papillion-La Vista High School for the photo shoot.
The 2014 All-Nebraska football team posted on the steps of the Joslyn Art Museum. The cover read: "A Step Ahead: The 24 members of the All-Nebraska football team towered over foes."
Back rows, starting from left: Papillion-La Vista South’s Jeremy Kowalski, No. 75; Seward’s Adam Holtorf, No. 79; Papillion-La Vista South’s Ryan Earith; Kearney’s Brian Arp, No. 55; Elkhorn South’s Brett Stinson; Grand Island’s Kevin Cahoy, No. 12; Omaha Central’s Tre Sanders, No. 6; Omaha Central’s DaiShon Neal, No. 9; Grand Island’s Pierce Almond, No. 2; Blair’s Vance Janssen; Bellevue West’s CJ Johnson; Boone Central/Newman Grove’s Wyatt Mazour; Omaha Central’s Xavier Graham, No. 64; Creighton Prep’s Jeremiah Stovall; and Creighton Prep’s Jack McLeay, No. 54. Front rows, starting from left: Omaha North’s Cole Bixler, No. 34; Omaha North’s Michael Decker, No. 78; Omaha North’s Calvin Strong, No. 5; Omaha North’s Jason Martin; Grand Island Central Catholic’s Youhanna Ghaifan; Millard North’s Adrrell Taylor, No. 27; Omaha North’s Marquise Lewis, No. 1; McCook’s Bryce Lyons, No. 21; and Omaha North’s Markell Vaughn, No. 22.
In 2013, the All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams came together for a photo shoot, and the cover was designed to look like a Facebook page with the teams taking one big selfie.
The 2012 All-Nebraska football team made a splash in the shark tunnel of the Scott Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Standing, from left: Luke McNitt, Kearney; DJ Foster, Lincoln Southeast; Josh Banderas, Lincoln Southwest; Nick DeLuca, Millard North; Harrison Phillips, Millard West; Mike Milenkovich, Millard North; Bryce Sosnowski, Millard South; Nathan Bazata, Howells-Dodge; Casey Sayles, Omaha North.
Middle row: Christian LaCouture, Lincoln Southwest; Jordan Bellar, Norfolk Catholic; Clay Fisher Millard North; Isaac Aakre, Millard North; Matt Kraft, Millard South; Alec Ditoro, Papillion-La Vista; Jake Schlager, McCook; Lee Carhart, Creighton Prep; Freeman Coleman, Millard South.
Front row: Andy Bayne, Millard North; Trey Carr, Omaha Burke; Calvin Strong, Omaha North; Skyler Monaghan, Millard West; Devin Washington, Lincoln Southeast; RJ Urzendowski, Creighton Prep.
With the Omaha skyline in the background, the 2011 All-Nebraska football team was "Standing Tall" at Pioneer Courage Park not far from the Omaha World-Herald building.
Bottom Row (from left): Tay Bender, RB, Lincoln Southwest; Isaac Aakre, RB, Millard North; Landon Arnold, OL, Millard North; Andrew Coppa, DL, Omaha Burke; Trey Foster, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Bo Liekhus, DB, Bellevue West.
Middle Row (from left): Darian Barrientos-Jackson, DB, Omaha Central; James Anderson, OL, Omaha Burke; Andy Janovich, LB, Gretna; Drew Farlee, K, Norfolk Catholic; Mike Minter Jr., DB, Lincoln North Star; Sam Cotton, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Devin Washington, RB, Lincoln Southeast; Sam Foltz, DB, Grand Island; Jeremy Callahan, P, Lexington; Robbie Lafour, OL, Lincoln Southeast; Jake Schany, LB, Blair; Jordan Nelson, RB, Omaha Burke; Ryker Fyfe, QB, Grand Island.
Top Row (from left): Jordan Brichacek, OL, Howells; Zach Oliver, WR, Omaha Burke; Terry Grigsby, DB, Omaha North; Drew Ott, LB, Giltner; Mike Shoff, OL, Cambridge.
All-Nebraska football captains Jimmie Forsythe of Omaha Burke and Tyson Broekemeier of Aurora were the focus in 2010 during this shoot at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing.
The 2009 All-Nebraska football hopped aboard this old streetcar at the Durham Museum.
There was "nothing pedestrian" about the 2008 All-Nebraska football team, which posed in front of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Back row, from left, Tyrone Sellers of McCook, Corey Serrano of North Platte, Nathan Zook of Grand Island, Eric Koehlmoos of Pierce, Tyler Daake of Norfolk Catholic, Tyler Niederklein of Millard West, Charles Viers of Millard West, Josh Kage of Papillion-LaóVista, Jake Herweyer of Millard West, Cole Pensick of Lincoln Northeast, Jordan Hale of Millard South, Andrew Rodriguez of Aurora, James Davis of Omaha North, Jon Lechner of Prep, Scott Criss of Omaha Creighton Prep and C.J. Zimmerer of Omaha Gross. Front row, Matt Berry of McCook, Braden Taylor of Grand Island, Vinny Molina of Kearney, Kohlman Adema-Schulte of Millard West, Bryant Giles of Omaha North, Michael Burrus of Papillion-LaóVista South, Ronald Coleman of North, Tyler Seals of Bellevue West and Greg Hardin of Bellevue West.
For the 2007 All-Nebraska football team, The World-Herald chose individual shots for the cover instead of the group photo, and the result was "Picture Perfect."
No challenge was too steep for the "Rock Solid" 2006 All-Nebraska football team, who posed in front of a climbing wall at Dick's Sporting Goods.
The 2005 All-Nebraska football team wore letterman jackets for the photo shoot instead of their jerseys.
Top, from left, Millard North's Corey Young, Lincoln Southwest's Ian Dike, Millard North's Adam Nelson, Bellevue West's Silas Fluellen, Omaha Central's D.J. Jones (back row), Millard North's Jeff Tarpinian, Kearney's Tony Green, Lincoln Southwest's Ben Martin, Bellevue West's Jeff Martin, Lincoln Southwest's Ollie Sloup, Papillion-LaVista's Kyle Dooley and McCook's Josh Cherry.
Bottom, from left, Omaha Benson's Anthony Williams, Kearney's Joey Rousseau, Lincoln Southwest's Andy Cotton, Omaha Burke's Ricky Henry, Omaha South's Philip Barrientos, Creighton Prep's Mark Waring, Omaha Burke's Alex Henery, Millard West's Brandon Pete, Omaha Burke's Travis Liechti, Millard North's Paul Homer, Omaha North's Aaron Terry and Millard West's Matt Leaders.
Nothing says football like rows of poinsettias. Those were the accents that went with this photo shoot for the 2004 All-Nebraska football team.