LINCOLN — Nebraska’s latest commit had many of college football’s biggest suitors making their pitch inside Miami Central High School.
Alabama. Michigan. Georgia. Florida. Even the hometown Hurricanes, who had the commit of 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback Henry Gray at one time.
The consensus four-star prospect ditched Miami back in the spring. He wanted to leave home. Thursday, he announced on Twitter his commitment to a new school. A surprise pick in the Big Ten that Gray had visited five days before for NU’s 44-8 win over Northern Illinois.
“This is only the beginning of my football career,” Gray said in his Twitter post, “and I am very excited about the what the future holds for me on and off the field.”
As Nebraska coaches’ celebrations on Twitter showed, the Huskers are, too. A top-100 prospect according to ESPN, Gray is one of the top players in the state of Florida and the city of Miami. Typically, those guys are fairly off limits for a Husker football program still trying to reclaim its glory of 20 years ago.
But NU has an ace in the hole with defensive backs coach Travis Fisher, whose reputation in Florida and work with both Nebraska and Central Florida’s secondaries carry weight with Miami-area coaches.
Nebraska received a commitment Thursday from Miami (Fla.) Central defensive back Henry Gray. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 175-pounder.
“We remember Coach Fish from his time at UCF,” Miami Central coach Roland Smith said of Fisher’s work at Central Florida, where he coached an NFL draft first-round pick, Mike Hughes.
Gray said by text Thursday that he was on a team bus and couldn’t give an interview. On Tuesday, he told 247Sports that his official visit sold him on what Nebraska had to offer.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Gray said. “The 90,000 fans were great. They were full of energy and very nice. The highlights for me were the nice facilities and my meeting with Coach Fisher and Coach (Scott) Frost.”
Nebraska is kicking the tires on new football facilities; an announcement on progress could come before the season is done.
Gray also has the versatile skill set Fisher wants in a defensive back.
“Henry’s a big, long, fast athlete, and he can play cornerback, safety, anywhere in the secondary,” Smith said.
Fisher cross-trains and tests his defensive backs on the duties of corners and safeties, so he wants players who can toggle between the two roles, similar to Cam Taylor-Britt and Eric Lee. Freshman Quinton Newsome played safety in high school; now he’s a corner.
“A corner has to know the job of everyone in the back end on the field,” Fisher said Tuesday. “I practice them just the same way. If, this week, they’re putting their third receiver at a certain spot, and trying to create mismatches, I can put guys in different spots and you never can game plan.”
Gray, the No. 210 player in the nation according to Rivals and the No. 201 player in the country according to the 247Sports composite service, joins Orlando (Fla.) Evans cornerback Tamon Lynum as a defensive back commit in the 2020 recruiting class. He’s the third prospect from Florida, joining Lynum and Port Orange Spruce Creek running back Marvin Scott. He’s the third consensus four-star commit in the class, joining Zavier Betts and Turner Corcoran.