LINCOLN — Marquis Black had traveled to many programs across the country from at least five leagues. But his biggest surprise came last.
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman had it on good authority that Nebraska would be worth a trip. His coach at Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia, vouched for the Husker staff and scheme. His father approved of the tradition and academics. His brother, Tyrese — whom Scott Frost’s staff recruited to Central Florida as a D-lineman — glowed about his ongoing experience.
Still, Black wasn’t close to becoming Nebraska’s 14th commit of the 2020 class until he saw it for himself.
“I thought Nebraska was a stadium with a bunch of cornfields around it,” he said.
The consensus three-star prospect announced his pledge to the Huskers on Saturday, two weeks after officially visiting for the Ohio State game. Nebraska projects him to play anywhere on the defensive line, with the size of a tackle and the quickness of an end. Black said D-line coach Tony Tuioti likes his football instincts, too.
“On third downs, he normally takes D-tackles out,” Black said. “But he said I could be one that could stay in on third down.”
Tennessee extended a scholarship offer in August to Black, who holds at least a dozen offers from Power Five schools. He officially visited Arizona in the summer and had been considering visits to see the Vols and Virginia Tech.
Nebraska separated itself further during the Ohio State game, Black said. Even in a 48-7 loss, he was impressed with a filled Memorial Stadium. When the Huskers finally got a first down in the second half, he compared the cheers to those in a state championship game.
“It was like, woah, I’ve never been in an environment like that,” Black said. “That really caught my eye, the fan base.”
Black is NU’s second defensive lineman of the cycle after Nash Hutmacher (Chamberlain, South Dakota). He’s the first from Georgia and is teammates with four-star receiver and Georgia commit Justin Robinson, who officially visited Lincoln for the Northwestern game.
Eagles Landing, a private school, has won four straight state titles. Its coach, Jonathan Gess, told The World-Herald that Black is the defensive leader of the team. Black can bend and run and is explosive off the line, he said.
It can be a “hard sell” for Northern schools to pull players from the South, Gess added. But the Huskers have a brand that is appealing to his players. A 2021 O-line prospect, Bryson Estes, also came away impressed following an unofficial visit last weekend. NU tight ends coach Sean Beckton primarily recruits the area.
“(The coaches) are doing a great job right now of getting Nebraska’s name out in the Southeast,” Gess said. “It rivals anybody.”