Not even two hours after Nebraska made its football coaching hire public Saturday, the first recruiting news leaked out on social media.
The subject was Adrian Martinez, a consensus four-star dual-threat quarterback with a pile of offers from the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon along with Central Florida and others. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Martinez, from Clovis West High School in Fresno, California, tweeted that the Huskers had joined his list of suiters.
New quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco made a simple pitch to Martinez — this is the high-powered offense he was meant for, and it’s coming to Nebraska.
Committed to Tennessee, the quarterback told The World-Herald he was already looking at taking a couple more visits this month and that he’ll be “exploring that avenue” with the Huskers. He’d like to sign in December and enroll early if possible.
“It’s a very good fit and an opportunity to start fresh and compete from day one, to start at square one with all the other quarterbacks,” Martinez said of Nebraska. “I feel like I fit in that system better than the guys on the roster right now. So that’s an advantage and appealing in itself.
“They really made me feel like I was a priority and they made it known. That’s a big deal to me.”
What began as a trickle of news turned into a deluge. Six known Nebraska offers went out Saturday night, before coaches touched down at the Lincoln Airport around midnight. At least a dozen more scholarships were extended Sunday as the new staff works to bolster what is currently an eight-man Class of 2018 before the no-contact dead period begins for high school players Dec. 18.
The early signing period runs Dec. 20 to 22, with the traditional one Feb. 7.
“We’re going to have to get to work,” coach Scott Frost said Sunday. “We already have boots on the ground getting out to see recruits and letting them know where we are and who’s going to be here. The response already has been tremendous and I think even with a short amount of time here we’re going to be able to get a lot of things done.”
Another Saturday call went out to Iowa Western’s Noah Banks, a three-star offensive tackle committed to Arkansas. He said new Nebraska assistant Ryan Held offered him, though Banks would likely work with another former UCF assistant and Husker, Greg Austin, as his position coach.
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Banks said UCF was among the first schools to show interest in him at the start of the fall. Wherever he ends up, his deadline to decide as a juco player begins Dec. 20.
“It definitely surprised me,” Banks said of the offer. “I wasn’t expecting it that quick, but there’s definitely a relationship. I was definitely ecstatic. It definitely puts a twist in things just because other schools that have been recruiting me are going through coaching changes.”
Indeed, of the 20 known offers since Frost’s staff took over Saturday afternoon, four went to players committed to schools with coaching vacancies or uncertainty. Four-star running back Jashaun Corbin out of Rockledge, Florida, was pledged to Florida State — a program seeking to replace Jimbo Fisher — until he decommitted Sunday evening. He became another Saturday target of the Huskers when Held called.
Corbin said he was surprised and happy, and would visit Lincoln if the opportunity arises.
“Nebraska is one of my favorite schools, and plus I love the coaching staff that is coming in,” Corbin said. “I was one of their priority guys because I got offered the day of the (UCF conference title game).”
Other players offered Saturday were Javontae Jean-Baptiste (three-star linebacker from New York), Jerome Ford (three-star running back from Florida) and Jeremy Webb (a junior college cornerback at ASA College in New York). All are uncommitted with at least a dozen offers.
The Huskers targeted areas of need Saturday and Sunday, ending with at least four offers out to running backs and three apiece to linebackers, wide receivers and safeties. Speed — if not necessarily size — is an emphasis.
Another recipient late Sunday was Bryson Williams, the Lincoln Southeast standout who committed to Wisconsin in July and never drew much interest from the previous staff. “Blessed to have received an offer from the University of Nebraska,” he tweeted.
Six new targets are junior college players. That includes a trio of three-star prospects from powerhouse Arizona Western in Greg Bell (running back), Jaron Woodyard (wideout) and Jahmir Johnson (offensive tackle) as well as Will Honas, a linebacker at Butler Community College in Kansas.
There are seven Floridians in Nebraska’s early crosshairs, as well. Among those offered are John Huggins (three-star safety and recent Florida State decommit), Derick Hunter (a four-star defensive end who backed off a Miami pledge last month), Marcus Riley (a three-star athlete committed to Louisville), Javian Hawkins (a three-star running back pledged to Louisville), Ayodele Adeoye (an IMG Academy product long committed to Texas) and C.J. Smith (four-star safety who tweeted a picture of his in-home visit with new NU assistant Jovan Dewitt).
Two others with scholarship offers are Joshua Fleeks (four-star wideout from Texas committed to Baylor) and Trey Dean (four-star safety from Georgia committed to Tennessee).
Also of note Sunday, current commit and wideout Joshua Moore — NU’s highest-rated prospect and a Texas native — retweeted a message from June about him choosing the Huskers over 50-plus other schools.
The Huskers’ former top commit, cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles, also perhaps showed renewed interest after decommitting in October. He tweeted a snowflake emoji with the message: “What’s up coach? Welcome home.”
Frost said part of the path to a turnaround for Nebraska is to bring more speed to the program. The Huskers also need to be stronger, get better play in the trenches and find players who fit the scheme.
Coaches aren’t wasting time getting started.
“We’re behind a little bit because with this early signing day, it’s tough,” Frost said. “We got a couple weeks here, but there was an outpouring of excitement that we saw (Saturday) that really fired me up and guys that were excited about hearing that we were coming here. So we’re going to do what we can to finish this recruiting class off the right way.”