Jamoi Hodge

Jamoi Hodge, left, enjoyed his official visit to Nebraska — as well as the Husker fans. “Nebraska’s was better,” said Hodge, who also visited Arizona. “A lot better.”

LINCOLN — First things first: Jamoi Hodge loved the Nebraska fans.

The Huskers’ newest commit — a rare junior college prospect with three years of eligibility — immediately warmed to the Sea of Red during his official visit. One week later, he visited his other finalist, Arizona.

“Nebraska’s was better,” said Hodge, who played this season at Independence (Kan.) Community College. “A lot better.”

As a result, NU gets its top priority at inside linebacker. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Hodge, originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, appeared in only five games this season before injuring his meniscus, but Nebraska was impressed by the film Hodge produced in that span, so he shot to the top of their board.

Now he’s in the Husker boat and not shy about his strengths.

“I’m fast, I’m athletic, and I can do everything,” Hodge said. “Cover, fill the hole, play outside the box or inside the box.”

He’ll leave Independence in December and enroll at Nebraska in January. Should he play immediately, Hodge will be inserted into a battle to become the third guy in a rotation with Will Honas and Collin Miller. Those two rotate this season with senior Mohamed Barry, who plays his final home game Friday against Iowa.

That trio has 214 tackles and 12½ tackles for loss this season. Because of a rotation, NU has been able to keep all three healthy for each game. Barry’s departure means Hodge or one of the returning young players — freshman walk-on Luke Reimer appears ahead of the pack — will get inserted.

Hodge said coaches expect him to play right away, and their confidence in him played a role in his decision to pick the Huskers.

“I just thought it was the best opportunity for me to play and to increase my person, to get a good degree,” said Hodge, who had 32 tackles this season.

Heading to Nebraska is a significant life change for a player who, just one year ago, figured he was headed to a smaller-division school because his academic situation was cloudy. Nearby FBS programs like Wake Forest and North Carolina weren’t interested in a player who couldn’t qualify.

Just before he signed with one of those schools, though, Independence coach Kiyoshi Harris convinced Hodge to pick a junior college instead. By spring, Hodge’s grades had improved enough that he could have gone to a FBS school all along.

So now Nebraska gets a linebacker with four years to play three seasons. Hodge effectively fills one of the inside linebacker recruiting holes NU has in its 2020 recruiting class. The Huskers continue to pursue high school options, including Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy’s Devyn Curtis.

Hodge became the 15th commit in the 2020 class, announcing his decision minutes after another junior college prospect, Junior Ahok, did the same. Nebraska is expected to sign between 20-23 high school and junior college players.

NU is likely not done recruiting juco players, either. It hosts East Mississippi defensive end and Colorado commit Julius Coates for Friday’s game against Iowa, and Tyler (Texas) Junior College outside linebacker Maureese Wren on Dec. 6. The Huskers have already hosted two big-bodied wide receivers — Omar Manning and Xavier Hutchinson — both of whom would fill a hole on NU’s roster.

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