The first game of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska will double as a position-of-need weekend on the recruiting trail.
Wandale Robinson — a high-profile running back from Kentucky the coaching staff has been coveting — highlights the group of official visitors. Three 2019 linemen are also set to come in Bryce Benhart, Brant Banks and Dohnovan West along with defensive back Tiawan Mullen. All will be on the Memorial Stadium sideline Saturday night when NU hosts Akron.
None of the prospects have known the Husker coaches longer than Mullen, a three-star cornerback from Pompano Beach (Fla.) Coconut Creek who frequently met with them when they were at UCF. After bringing in no DBs in its 2017 class and listing a pair of true freshmen on its two-deep roster, Nebraska is motivated to land the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Mullen.
Mullen has official visits lined up with finalists Indiana (Sept. 8) and Kansas State (Sept. 15) and has already taken one to Pittsburgh. Mississippi is the other contender.
The corner told The World-Herald that he talks daily with someone on the Nebraska staff. The brother of Clemson corner Trayvon Mullen and cousin of former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is making his first trip to Lincoln.
“They always had tradition,” Mullen said of Nebraska. “But now that Coach Frost is there, the tradition is just growing. I’m just ready to see it for my own self with my own eyes. I’ll just go with my gut and pray about it and let the man above lead me.”
Mullen said NU also projects him as a nickelback thanks to his closing speed and ability to tackle in space. He mostly played man-to-man as a sophomore — when he made 45 tackles with six interceptions, returning three for touchdowns — as well as his junior year, when teams were more hesitant to throw his way. He began his senior campaign last week with an interception.
“I have all the tools defensively,” Mullen said. “I can tighten up on everything, but I have all the tools.”
A look at the other expected official visitors this weekend, according to World-Herald confirmations, social media posts and recruiting reports:
» Running back Wandale Robinson, Frankfort (Ky.) Western Hills: A consensus four-star prospect and the No. 4 all-purpose back nationally according to 247Sports, the 5-9, 179-pound Robinson has offers from powerhouses like Alabama and Ohio State. He took official visits to Michigan and Purdue during the summer and has a trip to Alabama set for Sept. 22.
Nebraska offered Robinson in February, and his stock has continued to rise. He carried 27 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns with a 75-yard catch for a score in his first prep game this fall. Last weekend, he finished with 229 total yards (108 rushing on seven carries, 121 receiving on three grabs) along with a 63-yard punt return, five total touchdowns and an interception.
» Defensive end Brant Banks, Houston Westbury Christian School: This is the first official visit for the 6-7, 265-pound two-way standout who thought his future was in basketball until last season. Nebraska is the only Power Five school offering him as a defensive end, with other contenders like Virginia, Pittsburgh, Baylor and Missouri seeing him as an offensive tackle.
Banks told The World-Herald that he plans to use all five official visits before committing. He will graduate in December.
“I’d like to make my decision sooner rather than later because I know that schools do fill up,” Banks said. “But I’d like to go see the schools and see the campuses and game days. I think whenever I feel that a school’s right, I’ll know it when I’m there.”
Banks’ coach, Mark Krimm, said the lineman remains under-recruited because he didn’t play football as a sophomore after transferring in late. But he’s the kind of project who could star in college in a few years.
“He’s so raw,” Krimm said. “I think whatever he shows up to do, the strength and conditioning coach and a good staff is going to say, ‘Hey, we got all kinds of options with this guy.’”
» Offensive tackle Bryce Benhart, Lakeville (Minn.) North: Benhart had to petition the NCAA for a special waiver to make the official visit this early because his senior academic year doesn’t begin until next week. With that accomplished, Nebraska will get a chance to woo the 6-7, 285-pound four-star recruit whom 247Sports lists as the 20th-best tackle nationally in the class.
Benhart visited Lincoln in June. He’s also taken official visits to Tennessee and Wisconsin and remains interested in Michigan and Minnesota as well.
» Offensive tackle Dohnovan West, Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany: The consensus three-star lineman is looking at other official visits to Arizona State and Utah and is also considering Boise State. Recruited as an interior blocker by some programs, he moves well for his size and could be a versatile cog at the next level. He plans to enroll early after choosing a school in November.
2020 lineman making trip
One of Nebraska’s top priorities in the 2020 class will also be in Lincoln for the Akron game.
Turner Corcoran of Lawrence (Kan.) Free State will be an unofficial visitor, The World-Herald confirmed.
At 6-6 and 270 pounds, the four-star recruit is considered the No. 11 offensive tackle in his class by both Rivals and 247. He unofficially visited Ohio State during the summer and also has offers from the likes of Georgia and Clemson.