LINCOLN — Devine Ozigbo had first dibs on a spot in Nebraska’s recruiting class until 9 p.m. Friday.
NU coaches offered the running back in the morning. They told him they’d offer two more running backs they liked at 9 if Ozigbo wasn’t completely ready to switch his commitment from Iowa State to the Huskers. Nebraska’s newest commit needed only until 4. He’d take the spot. He announced it on Twitter. And he got ready to help the Huskers finish out their recruiting class by late evening.
A full day in the life of a high school football player.
“I always told my parents: If I’m ever going to switch, it’ll take something major,” Ozigbo said. “It’s going to take a school that has it all.”
And the Huskers fit that bill for the three-star prospect out of Sachse, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Nebraska had reconnected with Ozigbo over the last month after defensive backs coach Charlton Warren had mentioned him to new head coach Mike Riley. Warren had scouted Ozigbo for the previous staff, as well, but Ozigbo said offensive coordinator Tim Beck wanted more of a “scatback” type.
Riley, on the other hand, wanted a guy just like the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Ozigbo, who had 2,594 rushing yards over the last three seasons at Sachse, but also caught 976 yards worth of passes. Sachse averaged more than 300 yards passing per game this season; two junior wide receivers at the school, twins Devin and Donovan Duvernay, are highly regarded prospects for the 2016 class.
“We worked on routes and screens and catching the ball all the time,” Ozigbo said. “That’s one thing I forced myself to get good at. And I’m big enough where I like to block. I see myself as an every-down back and I guess they do, too. I feel like I do everything pretty well. With Coach (Reggie) Davis coming from the 49ers, he’s going to polish everything up. It’ll be good.”
Iowa State coaches were disappointed, Ozigbo said, in part because he’d been one of the key peer recruiters for the class. He tried to lure Nebraska basketball commit Michael Jacobson to ISU’s football class, for example, only to learn Jacobson preferred hoops.
Now he’ll run into him on NU’s campus. Why the switch? Ozigbo said it wasn’t any mistake Iowa State made, but his research into the Huskers intrigued him. He knew Nebraska had fired Bo Pelini, but didn’t know why. When he learned that Pelini was, in part, dismissed for not winning enough games and not winning conference titles, he wasn’t turned off. He was intrigued.
“It really appealed to me to go to a school that expects us to be great — players to play great, coaches to coach great and to compete for championships,” Ozigbo said. “That’s one thing that I really liked.”
For days before Friday, Ozigbo said, he hashed out what he might do if he got the offer. Then he got the call. It’s yours to take, he was told. He checked with his parents and his high school coaches. He accepted and he’ll make his official visit Jan. 23.
Whirlwind day. Life-changing decision. Ozigbo said he’s happy with it.
“I’m the first one they called,” he said. And NU, which had lost New Orleans back Kendall Bussey to Tennessee last month, said Ozigbo would be the only back in the class. He is a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout. He has the highest rating from Rivals, which rates him as the nation’s No. 50 running back.
The Huskers now have 15 commits in their class.