Lincoln - Head Coach Darin Erstad announced on Tuesday morning that five junior college players and one high school senior have signed their National-Letters-of-Intent to play baseball at Nebraska. The class is Erstad's first as a head coach and includes three players with ties to the state of Nebraska, as well as one each from Montana, Texas and North Dakota.
"We are very excited about the class we have assembled," Erstad said. "Every student-athlete will excel not only on the field but in the classroom as well. Each of them bring a blue collar mentality which is the backbone of Nebraska Baseball. We expect every student-athlete to come in and contribute right away."
Black (Billings, Mont. - Billings West HS)
Justin Black is ranked as a top-500 player in the country by Perfect Game USA and the second-best player in the state of Montana * Standout outfielder from Billings, Mont., where he played in the Billings American Legion program under Head Coach Adam Hust * Led the Scarlets to a 51-11-1 record in 2011 * Billings came within one win of reaching the American Legion World Series, but lost to Waipahu, Hawaii, in the Class AA Northwest Regional final * The Scarlets were the first team from Billings to reach the regional final since 1971 * Nearly unstoppable at the plate in 2011 with a .495 batting average * Recorded 21 triples, 18 doubles, seven home runs and 86 RBIs, while also swiping 32 bases * Posted a .417 batting average with five home runs, 58 RBIs and 21 stolen bases during the summer of 2010 * Has been named both an Under Armour and Bobby Valentine All-American * Participated at USA Baseball's 2011 Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., in June * Was invited to try out for a spot on USA Baseball's under-18 national team, but didn't make the final pool of 40 players * Chose Nebraska over Arizona and Utah.
"We are extremely excited that Justin is coming to the University of Nebraska," Erstad said. " He will bring great athleticism and speed to the outfield. His work ethic and attitude are exactly what we are building this program on. We expect Justin to come in and contribute right away as a true freshman."
DeLeon (Richmond, Texas - North Central Texas College/Blinn CC)
Christian DeLeon will join the Huskers in 2013 after playing his sophomore season at Blinn CC in Brenham, Texas * Played his freshman season at North Central Texas College in Gainesville, Texas, after finishing his prep career at Foster High School in Richmond, Texas * Hard throwing 6-4 righty with a fast ball in the low-to-mid 90's * Saw action in 11 games in 2011, with 22 strikeouts in 36 innings of work * Was named the Texas District 23-4A Most Outstanding Pitcher by the Houston Chronicle as a senior at Foster * Earned second-team honors as a sophomore * Played shortstop for the Lamar National Little League team out of Richmond, Texas, that played in the 2004 Little League World Series * Fell to Conejo Valley East out of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the United States Championship game (4-0) * Went on to beat Mexico by a score of 5-0 in the consolation game * Chose Nebraska over Houston.
"We are very excited to add Christian to the Husker family," Erstad said. "Christian has a coveted power arm with an above average breaking ball. We expect him to compete for a weekend role right away. The sky is the limit as he continues to grow."
Hoppes (Scottsbluff, Neb. - Iowa Western CC)
A native of Scottsbluff, Neb., Michael Hoppes will join the Huskers for the 2013 season after completing his sophomore season at Iowa Western CC in 2012 * Saw action in 12 games as a freshman for the Reivers * Posted a 5-3 record in 32.1 innings of works, while fanning 31 batters * Helped the Reivers win Region XI and the Northern District, as well as a third-place finish at the NJCAA World Series * Was a Rawlings/Perfect Game USA Central Region honorable mention pick in 2010 * Played America Legion baseball for the Westco Zephyrs under coach Mike Moran * Posted a career ERA of 3.88 for the Zephyrs * Placed 14th in Class B at the 2010 state golf tournament to help Scottsbluff win the team title * Chose Nebraska over Creighton, Western Kentucky and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Michael is another home-grown Nebraska native from Scottsbluff," Erstad said. "Michael has a good three-pitch mix with tremendous upside as he continues to grow. We expect him to compete for a weekend role right away."
Lubach (Lincoln, Neb. - Hutchinson CC)
A 2011 graduate of Lincoln Southwest High School, Tanner Lubach will play his freshman season at Hutchinson Community College in 2012 before joining the Huskers in 2013, with three seasons of eligibility remaining * Was a Super State pick by the Lincoln Journal Star in 2010 and 2011 * Played catcher and hit .376 as a senior for the Silverhawks under Head Coach Doug Kaltenberger * Added 30 RBIs on six doubles, four triples and seven home runs, while slugging .612 * Helped lead Southwest to the No. 1 seed at the 2011 Class A state tournament, but fell to Papillion-La Vista South in the title game * Played American Legion baseball for Pinnacle Bank * Hit .489 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs * Caught the first pitch of the 2011 College World Series from former President George W. Bush after being named the 2011 Nebraska All-State catcher * Chose Nebraska over Georgetown, North Dakota State, Creighton and Illinois State.
"We are pleased to bring Tanner back home where he belongs," Erstad said. "Tanner is a tremendous athlete who will catch and play the outfield. His blue collar mentality on and off the field is a perfect fit for the University of Nebraska."
Strahm (West Fargo, N.D. - Neosho CC)
Matt Strahm is a 6-3 left-handed pitcher out of Neosho Community College in Chanute, Kan., and is originally from West Fargo, N.D. * Led the Panthers as a freshman with a 9-3 record, including nine complete games * Team went 29-7 on the season to finish second in the East Division of the Jayhawk league * Posted a 2.82 ERA in a team-high 67 innings with 77 strikeouts and just 20 walks * His 77 strikeouts rank fifth all-time on Neosho's single-season record book * Was one of four freshman in the Jayhawk League to earn first-team All-Conference honors * Was 6-2 with two shutouts and three complete games as a senior at West Fargo High School * Recorded 70 strikeouts over 46 innings and a 1.07 ERA * Was a threat at the plate as well with a .408 batting average * Struck out just four times in 103 at bats, while posting nine doubles, one triple, two home runs and 29 RBIs * Chose Nebraska over Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Oregon.
"We are tremendously excited that Matt has chosen Nebraska to play Division 1 baseball," Erstad said. " His development over the past two years has been staggering. His three-pitch arsenal is suited to compete for a weekend starting spot right away. I am excited to continue the North Dakota pipeline back to the University of Nebraska!"
Stringer (Omaha, Neb. - Fort Scott CC)
Corey Stringer will play his sophomore season at Fort Scott CC in 2012 before joining the Huskers in 2013 * A 6-3 catcher from Omaha, Neb., Stringer was named a 2009 underclass honorable-mention All-American by Perfect Game USA and was a 2010 Central Region honorable-mention pick * Tied for the team lead in batting average as a freshman with a .394 average * Was one of the Greyhounds' top threats at the plate with 13 doubles, one triple, one home run and 47 RBIs * Was nearly perfect on the base paths with 10 steals in 11 attempts, while also cutting down 20-49 (.592) opposing runners * Earned second-team All-Nebraska honors as a designated hitter and first-team Class B accolades as a catcher from the Omaha World-Herald as a senior in 2010 at Skutt Catholic High School * Led Class B during the 2010 season in batting average (.488), doubles (12) and RBIs (47), while also ranking second in hits (41) and triples (6) * Led the Skyhawks to the No. 1 seed at the 2010 Class B state tournament with a 17-7 record, but fell to Omaha Gross in the title game.