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As a self-confessed recruiting junkie from long ago, I was smart enough to rehabilitate myself and not see certain signatures on dotted lines as global events with far-reaching consequences. So I've enjoyed sitting back and watching the voluminous information on Nebraska's 2012 football recruiting class pour in - from the 17 official bios compiled by our own media relations staff to the supplementary information gleaned from our state's two major newspapers which cover the Huskers like a blanket - the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal-Star.
Here then, are my favorite facts on all 17 recruits starting with the four A's - Afalava, Alexander, Anderson and Armstrong to the two W's - Westerkamp and Whitaker. That means the only way we can take you from A to Z is to make your opinion the X-factor, You become the sole benefactor and we all stay Zealous instead of overzealous. These guys, after all, need to get a playbook and see how well they hold up in James Dobson's off-season workouts before reporting to their first fall camp and attend their first class.
Here's our N-Sider view of Nebraska Recruiting 2012: From A to Z:
Outside linebacker Jared Afalava: He's the subject of one of my favorite quotes from a recruiting analyst: "If you want to talk about strapping a helmet on a missile, that's what this kid is. He will hit everything, and he has an incredible motor. He's definitely in the downhill mode when the ball's snapped and looking to get into the backfield."
Athlete LeRoy Alexander: There's a natural connection here. Alexander and current Husker Kevin Williams were teammates at Holland High School in Toledo, Ohio. They both played for current Husker graduate assistant Vince Marrow, whose own son, junior fullback Mike Marrow, is itching to make the most of his next two years here.
Outside linebacker Zaire Anderson: When Nebraska recruits a junior college transfer at linebacker, the immediate benchmark will be Lavonte David. Of course, that's unfair, but the Huskers would not have recruited a Philadelphia native from Riverside Community College in California if there were not inordinately high expectations.
Quarterback Tommy Armstrong: Listening to Jeff Culhane Wednesday night on the Husker Sports Network, this fact spoke volumes: Armstrong did not throw an interception during his senior year until the Texas 5A state championship game (1,945 season passing yards/29 TDs and 1,281 rushing yards/16 touchdowns). Wow!
Inside linebacker Thomas Brown: We all detest de-commitments, but when Arizona State fired a head coach, the Sun Devils' loss became Nebraska's gain. He 1) helped lead his prep team to a division I football title in Southern California; 2) has fallen in love with the Nebraska strength and conditioning program and 3) has no desire to redshirt.
Tight end Sam Cotton: Talk about fantasy land. "It's a dream come true to get to play with my brothers (Ben and Jake) and have my dad (Barney) coaching me," he said. That makes it "a lot easier on my mom because she won't have to travel around the country to watch us play." No wonder Bo Pelini said: "It's (all) pretty ridiculous."
Running back Imani Cross: Nebraska's first signee from Georgia since Alvonzo Dennard four years ago, he's big, strong and piled up 1,698 rushing yards, averaged nearly nine yards a carry and scored 24 touchdowns last fall. He originally committed to Tennessee and had offers from three other Southeastern Conference schools.
Defensive tackle Aaron Curry: Know this. He comes from an athletic family. His father, Aaron Curry Sr., was a standout basketball player at Oklahoma and was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the third round of the NBA draft. He visited Iowa, TCU, Missouri and Boise State and considered Baylor, Texas A&M and a host of others.
Defensive end Greg McMullen: A true coveted recruit. Among his other offers were Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and two Atlantic Coast Conference schools. He has what coaches call a lockdown recruit who had a dominant prep career in Akron, Ohio, knew what he wanted and stayed true to the only school he visited - Nebraska.
Athlete Alonzo Moore: If you're looking for someone to compare him to, let Moore help you out. "I pretty much see myself as a player like Jamal Turner," he said. "That's how some of the guys at Nebraska see me, too." A Louisiana native, he's told his new head coach he'd like a shot at quarterback, but he will likely begin his career as a cornerback.
Defensive end Avery Moss: This unique story includes only two years at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz., the same school that his cousin, current Husker Todd Peat, attended. Todd told him if he played football, he would almost guarantee a college scholarship. "It pretty much changed my life for the better," Moss said.
Inside linebacker Michael Rose: He was the first player to commit to Nebraska's 2012 recruiting class, making his intentions known before his junior season. He never made another trip and resisted the likes of Ohio State and USC, choosing instead to appoint himself a recruiting coordinator for others to follow and deserves a gold medal for that.
Cornerback Mohammed Seisay: What can we say about Siesay other than he has to be several steps ahead of everyone else, having spent two years at Division I Memphis before playing at Eastern Arizona Junior College last fall, giving him two more years of eligibility. When Oklahoma, Florida State and Arkansas also offer, you have something.
Offensive lineman Paul Thurston: Let's give some credit here to one of his Arvada, Colo., high school assistant coaches - former NU center Matt Baldwin, a 1999 first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. Thurston turned down offers from Stanford, Oregon, Michigan, Notre Dame, Arkansas, five other Pac-12 schools and two from the Big 12.
Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine: At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, this Illinois native is built to play in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State were among the 20 offers he turned down to come to Lincoln. Florida and the Illini were his other finalists. He says his hard-nosed, run-oriented style fits right in with the Big Ten Conference.
Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp: A legend in his home state and folk hero in Nebraska for resisting Notre Dame's late push, he is Illinois' all-time leader in receptions (235), receiving yards (4,618) and receiving touchdowns (68). He caught 12 passes for 353 yards and five touchdowns in his team's state championship game last fall.
Offensive lineman Corey Whitaker: One of two offensive linemen and one of two California natives in this recruiting class, Whitaker gets the ultimate endorsement from his Vista Murrieta coach in in Murrieta, Calif: "He's a nasty football player. He plays the game the way the game should be played. He'll fit in just fine at Nebraska."
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Voices from Husker Nation
I just finished reading your "A-Z" list for the new recruiting class for the Huskers. Well done!! I guess I knew most of what you were saying. However, with all the pundits, speculation and revolving criticism on the 2012 Husker class, it became very difficult to discern whether or not we had anything to be excited about. What you did was take a couple of sentences and succinctly develop a mind picture of what these recruits will bring to the table. Now I am eagerly waiting for the season to start. Although I live in Knoxville, we bring six family members each year to Lincoln and take one road trip to an away game. I was born in Grant (Neb.) and lived just outside of York in a small town called Bradshaw. Writers like you make me proud to go online five or six times a day. Thank you. Kevin Spath, Knoxville Tennessee
Great synopsis of the scholarship recruits. It was just the right amount of information to get to know each one as they become Huskers. I also appreciated the rolling video of the walk-on class. I think there are some players that will emerge from that group without question. Thanks for your continued quality coverage of Husker football. Nicely done! Phil Warrick, Round Rock, Texas
I was overloaded with recruiting info this year (If you want to call some of that stuff info). This article parted the clouds. Good job. I wish you could take some of those know-it-all writers/bloggers under your wing and teach them how to do it. Ken Katzberg, Broomfield, Colorado
I am so glad you guys chose Alonzo Moore, a Winnfield native, and I hope you continue to look here because we have another first-team all-state junior who plays with excitement and energy at all times. He can tell the other teams' plays before they even run them! He loves football, and he's a natural-born leader. Ramona Moore, Winnfield, Louisiana