Jimmy Fritzsche

Jimmy Fritzsche moments before he announced his decision to play for Nebraska.

LINCOLN — When college football coaches came through Greenville High School last spring to evaluate prospects, coach David Crane found many of them asking 6-foot-7 Jimmy Fritzsche the same question: What do you think about playing tackle?

Fritzsche was a tight end at the time — best hands on the whole team, Crane said — but knew his future was elsewhere.

Nebraska, which landed Fritzsche’s signature Wednesday, knew it before almost every Power Five conference team. The Huskers’ quick recruiting work in December helped seal the deal with Fritzsche, who even said no to hometown Clemson, a perennial College Football Playoff participant.

“I’d point to the relationship he had with Nebraska offensive line coach Greg Austin,” Crane said Wednesday. “Greg and Coach (Scott) Frost did an in-home visit and that went great. The relationships he built with those guys is what separated them.”

Even when balanced against a late scholarship offer from the Tigers.

“Jimmy kept an even-keel perspective about it,” Crane said. “But he indicated to me ‘Well, it’s the hometown school, that’s what I’m going to do.’ He ended up coming back to the decision that was in the heart all along and made the decision that was best for him. He didn’t worry about all those folks around here.”

Fritzsche has been at Greenville for two seasons. He arrived at 185 pounds. He’s now 240.

“He fell in love with the weight room,” Crane said. The player also embraced the tackle position three games into Greenville’s 2018 season, when an injury forced Fritzsche to switch from tight end. Crane said the evaluations of college coaches echoed in Fritzsche’s ears from the previous spring, as did the pedigree of his dad, Jim, who played offensive line at Purdue and later for the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.

Once colleges saw Fritzsche’s Hudl tape at tackle, well, they swarmed. Fast.

“It was wild. Literally every day somebody new was showing up,” Crane said of the last three weeks. “There was a lot going on and a lot for him to process.”

Crane thinks Fritzsche deserved the attention, too. Though he's a “late bloomer,” Craine said, he’s the kind of player who has major upside.

"I think he's capable of being a really big-time player,” Crane said. “Obviously he knows he's got to get in the weight room, gotta eat, gotta gain weight — just physically develop — but you just cannot find 6-foot-7 kids who can bend like he can and who can run like he can and are athletic as him.”

In an interview with Nebraska’s own media company after Fritzsche committed, Austin said Fritzsche is still learning the tackle position.

“You can see how athletic he is, how much quick twitch he has coming out of his stance, really excited about his potential out there at tackle,” Austin said. “We’re recruiting length, especially out there on the edges. He fits the bill. We’ll develop his body.”

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