Offensive linemen John Raridon and Bryan Brokop committed in late September 2014, meaning they stayed with the Huskers despite changes at both head coach (Bo Pelini to Mike Riley) and their position coach (John Garrison to Mike Cavanaugh).
Riley said Wednesday he was impressed that both always remained solid.
“We appreciate that loyalty to their commitment because through that time they get approached a bunch of different ways … and for them to stick by what they told us they were going to do is a big deal,” Riley said. “It says a lot about them, so we appreciate that.”
Riley said the program, in turn, simply tried to always “confirm Nebraska’s commitment to them.”
“From there, it wasn’t very hard,” he said. “I think Nebraska draws people for whatever reason. For John Raridon, it’s a legacy deal. His dad (Scott) had a tremendous experience here, and so I can imagine growing up in that house it was pretty easy to like Nebraska and to envision that possibility for John.”
Although Patrick O’Brien committed to Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf last May, Riley said he also found out something about the quarterback when he stuck with the Huskers despite escalating recruiting attention and ranking.
“It shows who they are as people,” Riley said. “He’s a guy that we have found we can rely on. And that will be a great trait as we go forward in football with Patrick.”
Engelhaupt had been on radar
Riley said tight end commit David Engelhaupt wasn’t somebody who the Huskers stumbled upon late in the process, even though the Norfolk Catholic senior wasn’t offered until Monday night.
Engelhaupt had been committed to Wyoming.
“It was a last-minute offer to David Engelhaupt, but it was not a last-minute thought,” Riley said. “We had him in camp (last June). We liked him, and he was part of our conversation for the year. We never stepped forward with it because of our numbers, and then at the end, when we were presented with an opportunity, we had a long talk, we revisited it on video and liked it.”
Riley said Engelhaupt ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.5s at NU’s Friday Night Lights camp. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end joins Jack Stoll at the position in this class.
“It’s another good example of what an opportunity at a camp can do for a young man,” Riley said. “Because had we not seen him in person like that, we may not have revisited it like we did, but we liked what we saw and never forgot.”
Filling holes on offensive line
Nebraska added four offensive linemen who have a commonality: They’re all tough.
Riley, Langsdorf and Cavanaugh all complimented the mentality of the O-line commits in the class.
That’s Raridon (out of Iowa) and Brokop (Illinois), plus tackle Matt Farniok (South Dakota) and guard Boe Wilson (Missouri).
“They’re a group that is collectively a tough group,” Langsdorf said on NU’s online signing day broadcast Wednesday. “We need some of that. We need some tough, nasty players up front, with some good size and athleticism.”
Nebraska will have to replace three starters from last year’s offensive line. These guys will fit right in.
“They’re tough guys, they work hard and they love the game,” Cavanaugh said.
Said Riley: “I think there’s some toughness in that group.”
Bits and pieces
Quayshon Alexander, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound commit from New Jersey, will begin his career at linebacker, his new position coach Trent Bray said. Alexander’s pass rush ability is appealing to Riley. … Greg Simmons, out of Miami, was the “at the very top of our board,” defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. Bray said Simmons is “out of high school one of the most instinctual players that I’ve recruited.” … The 6-4, 275-pound Raridon has the potential to play tackle, but Cavanaugh likes him at guard or center. ... Marquel Dismuke and Jackson are likely to join NU’s roster as cornerbacks. Defensive backs coach Brian Stewart said the possibility of playing cornerback at NU appealed to Jackson. … The 6-1, 210-pound JoJo Domann is a safety to begin his career. … Langsdorf said JD Spielman will be a slot receiver. Position coach Keith Williams said Derrion Grim could play all three receiver positions. … Special teams coach Bruce Read said Caleb Lightbourn will redshirt in 2016 as he prepares to be NU’s top punter and kickoff specialist.