LINCOLN — JoJo Domann, Nebraska's newest and arguably most accomplished commit for the 2016 recruiting class, hasn't always been able to pluck footballs out of the air with such ease.
To look at his seven interceptions and 49 receptions as a junior for state 4A champion Colorado Springs Pine Creek High School — with his 16.3-yard average per catch and 10 touchdowns — you’d think it was easy for him. But as a kid, Domann couldn’t catch very well. He said he underwent brain integration treatment as a child to address it.
“It helped a lot,” Domann said.
After that, it was years and years of repetition — throwing the football around with his younger brother Brock, a quarterback — that honed JoJo’s talents to the point that he became more than just an effective “eagle back” in Pine Creek’s defense. He became almost like a shutdown safety. Ten pass breakups. Seven interceptions. On offense, Domann amassed 1,002 rushing and receiving yards — on 68 touches.
And if Nebraska is looking for a kicker in a pinch, Domann made 59 of 60 extra point attempts and 7 of 8 field goals as a junior.
So it’s little wonder that, when the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Domann was asked what position he’d play in college, he answers: defensive athlete. At Pine Creek, he plays safety against spread offenses and outside linebacker against a two-back set. He’d come off the edge as a rusher in short yardage situations. You ask Domann to do it, he’ll try it. Safety. Nickel. Outside linebacker.
"Whatever gets me on the field," he said.
Domann had visited NU several times and was long considered a Nebraska lean. PrepColorado's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year — an award he won over two top 2015 Nebraska signees, Pine Creek teammate Avery Anderson and Eric Lee — Domann picked the Huskers over a final group of Kansas State, Arizona State, Colorado and California. Of that quartet, only California was recruiting Domann specifically for linebacker. Nebraska has abundant depth issues at safety and linebacker, and thus offered Domann in March — well before the April evaluation period — to get a jump on other programs.
The 13th commit of NU's 2016 class, Domann already knew plenty about the Huskers through Anderson, who'd enrolled at Nebraska in January.
“Avery’s the man, and he couldn’t have been more helpful,” said Domann, a three-star prospect according to 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. ESPN has yet to rate Domann. “It’s good having one of your best friends there. He tells me all the inside stuff, and it’s all positive.”
Nebraska, Domann said, is "college football royalty." A program that wins. A program revolving around football every day. That appeals to him. So does NU linebackers coach Trent Bray, Domann's primary recruiter. Bray also lured Wayne (New Jersey) DePaul Catholic athlete Quayshon Alexander to commit and landed Fort Pierce (Florida) Central linebacker Greg Simmons, who recently decommitted from Miami.
“He knows when to calm you down, but he also knows when to get in your face and fire you up,” Domann said. “That’s the kind of guy he is, and the kind of guy I am.”
Domann has been around football his entire life; his dad, Craig, is a former Kansas safety who’s been an NFL agent for more than 20 years. For years in youth football — because of weight limits — JoJo was an offensive lineman, “driving guys 30 yards downfield on 3-yard plays.”
Once at Pine Creek, he switched to quarterback. He played some wide receiver, too.
But to get on the field as a sophomore, Domann figured he’d have to embrace defense. Which he did. In his junior year, he excelled, especially in coverage, where he was equally adept at jumping in front of short passes or playing center field on deep passes.
Domann credited youth soccer with developing his quick footwork and agile hips when he changes directions. Like Anderson, Domann worked with Lee’s high school defensive backs coach — former NFL safety Brian Dawkins — on drills he then took back to Pine Creek.
He started all but one game as a sophomore, finishing with 71 tackles and five interceptions. His junior year was even better, as Pine Creek enjoyed an undefeated season. In the state title game, Domann caught one touchdown and returned a fumble for another score.
Interest in Domann really took off after that junior campaign. In addition to his final five, Domann received Power Five conference offers from Virginia, North Carolina and Oregon State. He attended a camp at Stanford last week in search of an offer from the Cardinal — which routinely recruits the state of Colorado. Though Stanford will inform Domann next week of its decision, Domann said he wasn’t anticipating an offer, and thus chose to announce his decision Friday.
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