Jay Ducker

Jay Ducker rushed for 1,813 yards on 254 carries in 2018.

Bellevue West running back Jay Ducker seemingly ended his recruitment Wednesday by committing to Northern Illinois, and the Huskies coaching staff was a big reason for his choice.

“The coaching staff has a résumé like no other,” Ducker said. “Head coach (Thomas Hammock) was the coach for Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, Ray Rice and James White. All were NFL running backs. The running back coach was the running back coach of the Patriots before this (NIU) and they won the Super Bowl. It’s kind of Running Back U and something you can’t pass up.”

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior-to-be chose Northern Illinois over scholarship offers from Purdue, Army, Texas State, Dartmouth, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota, South Dakota State, Western Illinois and Youngstown State.

In the end, he chose Northern Illinois over three others. Texas State’s new coaching staff was intriguing, along with the location. South Dakota State was the first to offer Ducker and believe in him, and his brother Trystn is a senior wide receiver at South Dakota.

Rather than wait for his season to play out or for the end of the camp season in June, Ducker chose to commit now to focus on his senior season and accomplishing Bellevue West’s goal of winning a championship.

“It just relaxes you knowing you have a plan,” he said. “It lets you just focus on your senior year and to go get the ring and not worry about other things.”

Ducker rushed for 1,813 yards on 254 carries in 2018, good for an average of 7.1 yards per attempt. His 30 touchdowns last season give him 57 for his career, moving him closer to the school record of 80 held by current Husker Jaylin Bradley.

Ducker made the 2018 All-Nebraska football first team.

He isn’t completely shutting down his recruitment, but feels confident in his choice.

“No more visits or anything like that, but it doesn’t mean I’m completely shutting down recruiting,” he said. “I also owe them my trust to an extent and am happy where I am committed.”

In early April at The Opening St. Louis regional, Ducker had an overall testing score of 119.1, which ranked in the 99th percentile of athletes tested nationwide. It was the sixth-highest rating at the St. Louis camp. Ducker posted a 4.62-second 40-yard dash, 35.7-inch vertical jump and 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle.

Ducker is the second Bellevue West player in this recruiting cycle to commit to an FBS school following wide receiver Zavier Betts, who pledged to Nebraska in April. At least two other Thunderbirds in the 2020 class, Nate Sullivan and Thomas Ault, have Division I scholarship offers.

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