Keyshawn Johnson Jr.

Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has the best hands in the 2017 class and could become Nebraska’s most reliable third-down target.

This year’s signing day is over. Let the analysis begin. Here’s a look at how three recruiting experts break down Nebraska’s recruiting class of 2017.

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Josh Harvey

Harvey is the publisher for Big Red Report (Scout)

Best position group of the class

Offensive line: I will preface this by saying I’m assuming Chris Walker stays at offensive tackle. Four-star talents Brenden Jaimes and Matt Sichterman were Power Five conference guys with lots of offers closer to home.

Best overall commit

Tyjon Lindsey, WR: He’s arguably, when healthy, the most explosive receiver in the 2017 class. He will be able to help on special teams, as well. A better wide receiver than De’Mornay Pierson-El coming out of high school, but the same home run threat.

Best commit — defense

Avery Roberts, LB: The four-star is a downhill linebacker with a legit laser-timed 4.6 40-yard dash. He didn’t play the greatest competition but will benefit from enrolling early.

Best commit — offense

Tristan Gebbia, QB: After Lindsey, Gebbia was a really nice land for Nebraska. He needs to get bigger, but he has a very strong arm and put up video game-like numbers in California.

Sleeper

Chris Walker, OT: The jump he made from his junior to senior year probably didn’t get enough looks. He looks pretty athletic after weight loss and could play either side.

Best win over a Big Ten opponent

Tyjon Lindsey, WR: It has been suggested Ohio State backed away, but the Buckeyes were trying to get him back after he decommitted.

Best recruiter of the cycle

John Parrella, defensive line coach: Considering he got a late start, the first-year Division I recruiter did an excellent job landing the four he did — especially keeping Guy Thomas down the stretch. Keith Williams was close with three four-stars at the receiver spot, but needed one more.

Toughest miss of the cycle

Jamire Calvin, WR: There were definitely higher-ranked players at more important spots, but Nebraska put a lot of resources in on Calvin.

Best class in Big Ten

Ohio State: Closer to Michigan than I think a lot of people realized, but overall the quality is there. Shout-out to Maryland for stepping up its recruiting game in 2017.

Biggest needs in 2018

Defensive back: NU loses three after the 2017 season, and this year could have likely taken one more. New coach Donte Williams will be busy.

Mike Schaefer

Schaefer is a recruiting analyst for Huskers Illustrated (247)

Best position group of the class

Defensive line: Nebraska addressed some depth concerns at defensive tackle and added some intriguing pieces that could be good fits with the shift to a three-man front.

Best overall commit

Deontre Thomas, DT: This defensive lineman could be a 3-4 defensive end, where he’ll cause problems for tackles because of his powerful hand-punch and quick step. Best defensive line commit in some time.

Best commit — defense

Damion Daniels, DT: While Thomas is a better player, Daniels is a big addition because he fills an immediate need at nose tackle. There’s no one else built like him on the roster.

Best commit — offense

Brenden Jaimes, OT: If I had to bet on a multiyear starter on offense, it would Jaimes, who is still 17. He will redshirt in 2017, then have every chance of winning a job in 2018.

Sleeper

Keyshawn Johnson Jr., WR: He seems to be unfairly judged based on his speed and body type, but Johnson obviously has great lineage and no one in the class has better hands. Don’t be surprised if he carves out a nice role as the team’s most reliable third-down target in the future.

Best win over a Big Ten opponent

Kurt Rafdal, TE: Several options, but Rafdal could be a multiyear starter in an open tight end room. He has got the build to help both in-line and split out, making his versatility attractive to a Mike Riley offense. Good win over Iowa.

Best recruiter of the cycle

John Parrella, defensive line coach: There were questions about the jump in levels, but Parrella proved to be an effective evaluator of talent and he added, in my opinion, the class’s best player in Thomas. Donte Williams is going to be fun to watch with a full cycle in 2018.

Toughest miss of the cycle

Isaiah Hodgins, WR: There’s a number of receivers who could go here, but Hodgins chose Oregon State, despite an obvious need for a bigger receiver and an offense that’s more likely to utilize him than the Beavers. Head-scratching to say the least.

Best class in Big Ten

Ohio State: It’s really not close. Jim Harbaugh wins headlines, Urban Meyer wins top recruits and games. The gap between the Buckeyes and the rest of the Big Ten in terms of talent has never been wider.

Biggest needs in 2018

Receiver: Two straight years of coming in under the number leaves Nebraska searching for at least three in the 2018 class. Elsewhere, Nebraska has done a good job and the roster is much deeper now than what Riley and staff inherited in 2014.

Nate Clouse

Clouse is a recruiting analyst for HuskerOnline (Rivals)

Best position group of the class

Defensive line: I’m going to go with the defensive line, though I could make a case for the wide receivers. Recruiting defensive tackles and edge rushers is not easy, but defensive line coach John Parrella went out and signed four really talented players up front. All four of them should fit in nicely with the move to the 3-4 defense, as well.

Best overall commit

Tyjon Lindsey, WR: He’s an elite talent that is a big play waiting to happen nearly every time he touches the football. The former Ohio State commit should play early and often in his career on offense and possibly special teams.

Best commit — defense

Avery Roberts, LB: Roberts is an extremely gifted linebacker prospect that coach Trent Bray spent two years recruiting and pulled out of Penn State’s backyard. He’s a big, physical, downhill linebacker and has tremendous instincts for the game. On campus already as an early enrollee, fans should see plenty of him next season.

Best commit — offense

Tristan Gebbia, QB: The quarterback is always one of the most important signees of any class and I think Gebbia was a huge get for the Huskers. The Calabasas, California, native was No. 1 on the board for Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf and has all of the physical tools and intangibles they covet at the position.

Sleeper

Matt Sichterman, OL: There were a couple guys like offensive tackle Brenden Jaimes or defensive tackle Deontre Thomas who I could have gone with, but I feel like Sichterman is probably the biggest sleeper. He’s a big, long and lean prospect that Nebraska thinks is athletic and smart enough to play tackle, guard or center. On top of that, Sichterman plays with that nasty disposition that offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh loves.

Best win over a Big Ten opponent

Tyjon Lindsey, WR: Getting the receiver to flip from Ohio State to Nebraska was huge. Every recruiting win over a Big Ten foe is important, but it’s pretty special when it happens against the Buckeyes.

Best recruiter of the cycle

John Parrella, defensive line coach: Parrella gets my nod for a few reasons. First, he has a tough position group(s) to recruit as every school in the country is always after difference-makers up front, and those prospects aren’t as plentiful as players at other positions. Second, Parrella arguably signed the best defensive line class at NU in recent memory — and did it without being a full-time coach in Lincoln for an entire year. Wideouts coach Keith Williams, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh, linebackers coach Trent Bray and new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams also deserve mention.

Toughest miss of the cycle

Darnay Holmes, CB: Nebraska was in on so many big fish you could make the case for a handful of players. However, I’m going to go the five-star cornerback for Calabasas. He is an elite talent that had been on campus at least six times the last two years and had a ton of ties to the program with two of his best friends committed to NU. Even a former teammate, Marquel Dismuke, committed to the Huskers in the 2016 class.

Best class in Big Ten

Ohio State: The Buckeyes not only had the best class in the Big Ten, but they signed one of the best classes of all time, right alongside Alabama this year. The Buckeyes inked 21 signees, and 17 were ranked as four stars or higher. Urban Meyer has had success recruiting Florida in the past, and obviously does well in the Big Ten footprint on a yearly basis, but the most impressive thing this year was how he went into Texas and pulled three of the top 10 players out of the state, including two five-star prospects.

Biggest needs in 2018

Defensive back: After taking one DB in 2017’s class, Nebraska will need to sign around four in 2018, including three cornerbacks. Donte Williams will have his work cut out for him, but it already appears that he has several big fish taking a very hard look at the Huskers and he’s the type of recruiter who can close.

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