NCF On The Trail: Avery Anderson

LINCOLN, Neb. -- In an homage to their frantic and fruitful first few days on the job at Nebraska, Mike Riley’s coaches in future years may want to leave the comfort of their offices for a week every year at the height of recruiting season and drag their work to a conference room.

There, if linebackers coach Trent Bray and running backs coach Reggie Davis need to discuss a prospect, they can bypass cell phones and electronic messaging, forget even about walking down the hallway.

Sometimes, the most simple method to eliminate chaos is the most effective. And so it went for the Nebraska coaches in the days after Riley’s Dec. 4 hiring.

On the eve of signing day, with Riley set Wednesday to unveil his first recruiting class at Nebraska, the successes of the past 60 days in Lincoln can be traced to those two weeks of December madness.

The coach, four of his assistants and a core group of support staff uprooted their lives at Oregon State and immediately established a home base in that conference room amid the third-floor administrative offices at Memorial Stadium.

“We were all there, engaged with one purpose,” said Dan Van De Riet, Nebraska associate athletic director for football operations who worked with Riley at Oregon State for 14 years. “So it was actually really good.”

Their teamwork and efficiency proved vital in retaining the majority of commitments secured by the former staff and in laying the groundwork for a productive final recruiting stretch.

One floor below the makeshift nerve center in December, Nebraska’s departing assistants prepared the Huskers for the Holiday Bowl. Riley took his partially constructed staff, in their first hours together at Nebraska, straight to meet the outgoing coaches.

“They knew we were there,” Bray said last month. “We knew they were there, so why hide and pretend you’re not there?”

From those opening days, Riley attacked challenges. His first results of substance, on display Wednesday, are a testament to the coach’s skill as an executive and illustrative of the trust he places in hires at various levels of the football program.

Often, the first group of recruits signed by a coach after a postseason change is not indicative of his style or the game plan for future recruiting classes. The new guy gets a pass, more or less; it happened at Nebraska after moves that followed the 2003 and 2007 seasons.

No such luxury exists for Riley as Nebraska looks to improve on seven consecutive nine- or 10-win seasons.

Sure, he’ll get a grace period to learn of the culture and expectations.

How about until the end of spring practice?

The Huskers’ class ranks 32nd nationally and fifth in the Big Ten. Given more time, Riley and his recruiters figure to sign groups with more flash and bang. More important than its ranking, though, this class doesn’t feel rushed -- as so many do when built after a coaching change.

Riley and his coaches found fits. They kept key pieces, headlined by Colorado defensive backs Eric Lee and Avery Anderson, who enrolled in January, twin defensive linemen Carlos and Khalil Davis and defensive end Daishon Neal.

Nebraska added a four-star talent in offensive guard Jalin Barnett and scored a legitimate recruiting win over Michigan in keeping tight end Matt Snyder. They added pledges from the states of California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, which bodes well for next year and beyond.

On social media, the Huskers showed an innovative spirit.

They sought to address a potential weakness within the borders of their own state as not a single coach on Riley’s staff has recruited extensively in Nebraska. A call to Paul Limongi, president of the Omaha Metro Coaches Association, was among the first placed by Van De Riet, the administrator who flew to Nebraska with Riley on his first trip two months ago.

“Reaching out is key,” said Limongi, coach at Omaha’s Burke High School. “It was really refreshing to hear from him. It seems like they’re headed in the right direction.”

Scott Strohmeier, coach at Iowa Western Community College, said he, too, has engaged in preliminary conversation with Nebraska about growing the relationship between his program -- one of the nation’s most successful at the juco level -- and the nearby Huskers.

The new Nebraska staff won’t abandon its diverse recruiting strongholds for local kids. But a key to their success involves finding a balance.

“When you recruit local, the kids are a little more invested,” offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said. “I do think it’s important to start here and work out from there.”

It seems, so far, Riley and his coaches have done their homework -- aided, perhaps, by a two-week, conference-room session of mind-melding at the start.

Recruit and return: Nebraska Cornhuskers 

December, 27, 2014
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Nebraska is currently working its way through a coaching transition with newly-hired coach Mike Riley from Oregon State. With little time until signing day, Riley and his staff are still looking to add on to the already established class for 2015. If the new coaches can add a few more pieces, they could position themselves very well for the near future.

For the longest time it looked like Alabama was going to run away with the title for the top-ranked class, but here comes Florida State. Plus, why the hype around Josh Sweat?

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Help is on the way: Big Ten 

October, 8, 2014
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Recruiting is all about filling needs and replacing talent. With 25 ESPN 300 prospects committed within the Big Ten there is plenty of talent coming in to help teams with holes on the roster.

Some programs have different needs and different talent in their 2015 classes, so here is a look at each Big Ten team’s need and what kind of help is on the way.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news from across the country. Today's offerings: UCLA quarterback commitment Josh Rosen is off to a strong start in Week 1, showcasing why he will be a valuable recruiting tool for the Bruins this season. Plus, most of the Pac-12 attention has been on UCLA, USC and Oregon, but don't forget about the quality classes at UofA and ASU, and we continue our tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: In case you missed it, the ESPN Class Rankings recently expanded to 25 teams Insider and this week’s update gave us the additions of both Ohio State and Oregon. But Nebraska, TCU, Duke and Arizona State are a few teams just outside the top 25 that could join the list in the future.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Colorado has struggled on the field and in recruiting since its transition to the Pac-12, but this season is going to be key for the Buffs to turn things around with local prospects. And don’t be surprised if there’s some major news out of Texas A&M this weekend with the Aggies hosting their Friday Night Lights practice.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

February, 3, 2014
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The final weekend before signing day saw a lot of movement within the Big Ten. Here is a look at what took place on the recruiting trail over the weekend.

Biggest commitment: Nebraska went on a frenzy this past weekend, landing six total commitments. The biggest came from ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Eric Lee (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian), the No. 217 prospect, and ESPN Junior 300 athlete Avery Anderson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Pine Creek), ranked No. 235 in his class.


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Early Offer: Future is now 

February, 3, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Monday's offerings: With signing day two days away, most schools are already targeting 2015 recruits and having junior days, but some coaches question whether these early commits stick in the long run; and who would have thought we would see Mark Richt posing for selfies with recruits?

Juniors take center stage


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Huge weekend continues for Huskers

February, 2, 2014
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Nebraska continued its strong recruiting weekend with several big commitments on Sunday. The Cornhuskers now have landed six commitments this weekend in the 2014 and 2015 classes.

Nebraska secured commitments on Sunday from ESPN Junior 300 prospect Avery Anderson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Pine Creek), who flipped his pledge from Arizona State, and 2014 quarterback A.J. Bush (Norcross, Ga./Norcross).

Bush and Anderson were the latest to join defensive end DeAndre Wills (Lineville, Ala./Clay Central) and Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) for 2014 and Eric Lee (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian) and Kendall Bussey (New Orleans/Isidore Newman) for 2015, all of whom committed this weekend.

Bush is the second quarterback committed in the 2014 class along with four-star Zack Darlington (Apopka, Fla./Apopka), who enrolled early at Nebraska. There have been concerns about Darlington’s health as he suffered two concussions in high school and had been undergoing extensive testing and monitoring. Adding Bush gives the Cornhuskers staff some security and depth if Darlington isn’t able to play in the future.

Landing both Lee and Anderson gives Nebraska two ESPN Junior 300 commitments in the 2015 class, which is an outstanding start. The two prospects already know each other and could be the start of a great class for the Huskers.

With 26 commitments now in the 2014 class, there probably isn’t much more room to improve. The Cornhuskers closed well leading up to Wednesday's signing day and now have to wait on only a few targets to see where they end up.

Weekly Commitment Roundup

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ACC
Florida State
Alec Eberle | OG |Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee
HT: 6-4 WT: 271
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

N.C. State
Michael Till |TE-Y |Upper Marlboro, Md./Wise
HT: 6-5 WT: 260
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

North Carolina
Brandon Fritts |TE-H |Mentor, Ohio/Mentor
HT: 6-4 WT: 210
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pittsburgh
Connor Hayes |OG |Traverse City, Mich./West
HT: 6-4 WT: 270
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Virginia Tech
Travon McMillian |ATH |Woodbridge, Va./Hylton
HT: 5-11 WT: 186
Position Rank: #41 ATH
Stars: 4

Big 12
Baylor
Josh Pelzel |OT |Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale
HT: 6-7 WT: 334
Position Rank: #31 OT
Stars: 3

Chad President |ATH |Temple, Texas/Temple
HT: 6-3 WT: 195
Class of 2015

Kansas State
Sam Sizelove | OLB | Argyle, Texas/Argyle
HT: 6-2 WT: 229
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Texas Tech
Derrick Neal | ATH | Dallas/Lincoln
HT: 5-10 WT: 155
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big East
Rutgers
Peter Mokwuah | DT | Staten Island, N.Y./St. Joseph By The Sea
HT: 6-4 WT: 304
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Illinois
Chayce Crouch | QB-PP | Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic
HT: 6-4 WT: 215
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Michigan
Juwann Bushell-Beatty | OT | Paramus, N.J./Catholic
HT: 6-7 WT: 330
Position Rank: #10 OT
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (120)
Under Armour All-American

Minnesota
Dimonic McKinzy | ATH | Kansas City, Kan./Wyandotte
HT: 6-0 WT: 215
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Steven Richardson | DT | Chicago/Mount Carmel
HT: 5-11 WT: 280
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac-12
Arizona State
Avery Anderson | ATH | Colorado Springs, Colo./Pine Creek
HT: 6-0 WT: 166
Class of 2015

Oregon
Morgan Mahalak | QB-PP | Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic
HT: 6-3 WT: 185
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Stanford
Christian McCaffrey | ATH | Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian
HT: 6-0 WT: 195
Position Rank: #34 ATH
Stars: 4

USC
Michael Wyche | DT | Monterey Park, Calif./East Los Angeles College
HT: 6-4 WT: 325
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington State
Marcus Griffin | DT | Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue
HT: 6-3 WT: 285
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Georgia
Sony Michel | RB | Plantation, Fla./American Heritage
HT: 5-11 WT: 194
Position Rank: #2 RB
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (16)

Kentucky
Tymere Dubose | DT | Youngstown, Ohio/Youngstown Christian
HT: 6-5 WT: 245
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Darryl Long | TE-Y | Westerville, Ohio/Westerville
HT: 6-5 WT: 217
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Missouri
Thomas Richard | WR | Nashville, Tenn./Chris Presbyterian
HT: 6-0 WT: 181
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

South Carolina
Kalan Ritchie |TE-Y |Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek
HT: 6-6 WT: 226
Position Rank: #10 TE-Y
Stars: 3

Tennessee
Orlando Brown Jr. |OT |Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge
HT: 6-8 WT: 348
Position Rank: #25 OT
Stars: 3

Kameel Jackson |WR |Arlington, Texas/Blinn College
HT: 6-0 WT: 200
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Vanderbilt
Mikale Wilbon |RB |Chicago/De La Salle
HT: 5-9 WT: 186
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Independents / Misc.
Boise State
Greg Gaines |DT |La Habra, Calif./La Habra
HT: 6-1 WT: 297
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Notre Dame
Elijah Hood |RB |Charlotte, N.C./Catholic
HT: 6-0 WT: 220
Position Rank: #8 RB
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (49)

Quenton Nelson |OG |Red Bank, N.J./Catholic
HT: 6-5 WT: 289
Position Rank: #19 OG
Stars: 4

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