Mike Cavanaugh

Nebraska offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh worked the west, also making stops in North Platte, Valentine, Gering and Ogallala.

LINCOLN — Joe Benson told Mike Cavanaugh to meet him by the shot put ring.

Scottsbluff was hosting its annual Twilight Invitational track meet on Friday, and Benson, the Bearcats’ football coach, would be helping with preparations about the time the Nebraska assistant coach would be stopping by.

“We had a nice visit,” Benson said. “It was neat, just talking about the area, who were good prospects in the Panhandle, what we had on our team … just a get-to-know session.”

Benson hasn’t had a Nebraska signee in 28 seasons as Scottsbluff’s coach. It had been a few years since Barney Cotton had been the last Husker coach to visit the school. So Benson said he was thankful for the visit Friday.

It was just a sample of what was happening.

Nebraska’s staff spread out, “swarming the state” and promoting it hard on social media. Cavanaugh worked the west, also making stops in North Platte, Valentine, Gering and Ogallala.

Todd Ekart has been at Gering for two years after four at Sidney and knows the area well. It’s often worked harder by Wyoming and maybe Colorado State than anybody else.

So Cavanaugh’s half-hour visit was well-received by Ekart.

“This was kind of a, ‘Hey, if we can do anything to help you guys, let us know,’ ” Ekart said. “I think it’s a great idea for those guys to get out. We don’t get a whole lot of guys coming our way. Even if we don’t have anybody, just to stop in and say, ‘Hey, if you ever do …’ It’s a good move by those guys, to say they’re still recruiting the whole state.”

All told, the Husker staff made close to 50 stops six days after the spring game.

NU assistant coaches Reggie Davis (Lincoln) and Keith Williams (Omaha) peppered their Twitter feeds with photos of the places they were stopping, including some selfies with the school name over their shoulder. The Friday schedule for John Parrella even sent him to his alma mater, Grand Island Central Catholic.

Gretna coach Dave Shrader welcomed first-year defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, which seemed a natural fit since former Dragons star Mick Stoltenberg will be one of the cornerstones of the Husker defensive line in the fall.

Gretna students were out because the school was hosting district music, but Shrader said some faculty members recognized the NU newcomer, who tweeted about “Deep Rich Soil!” and #Blackshirts as he reached the building.

They chatted about Stoltenberg and how big the nose tackle has gotten. They talked about head coach Mike Riley. They even shared opinions on music during a 45-minute stay before Diaco would head for the Elkhorn and Millard schools.

“It was exciting because of all the hype and all the things that we’re reading and hearing about his enthusiasm and his knowledge,” Shrader said. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of high hopes with the kind of stuff he’s doing. He’s definitely kind of a pop culture icon right now.”

Shrader called Diaco “very personable, easy to visit with, like talking to your neighbor.”

“I would say he’s going to be a really good recruiter, and a good fit with Coach,” Shrader said. “He had a lot of good things to say about Coach Riley and the person he is.”

Lincoln High coach Mark Macke got a chance to mention a few of his players to Davis, including Jack Buchanan and Zion Perry. Several of his Links players have attended the Friday Night Lights camps in recent years.

But Macke said Friday was a rare occurrence for a Husker staff member to make the short trip to Lincoln High, which is trying to rebound after some down years.

“This is a first,” said Macke, in his sixth year. “I’m kind of excited. I’m happy they decided to come over, because we hadn’t had them in our building before. It was kind of neat for them to do that.”

Macke said Davis spent the rest of his time seeing the school and facilities with Assistant Athletic Director Richard Bollen, a former Husker walk-on.

All the stops Friday might not result in more Husker scholarship recruits, but Shrader said both NU and the in-state high schools can only benefit from a strong relationship. Cavanaugh was out at Gretna either last year or the year before, Shrader said, but the Dragons’ coach said Friday seemed to show a “little different philosophy for them.”

Among other Dragons players who have gone to Nebraska in recent seasons, fullback Andy Janovich went from walk-on to four-year contributor to sixth-round NFL draft pick in 2016.

“I really, truly feel that Nebraska is important,” Shrader said. “We don’t have a tremendous amount of four- or five-star kids but, doggone it, the heart and soul of Husker football is the kids who grow up and want to be there. The kids who live and breathe it are pretty important.”

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