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No drama? No problem as Huskers sign class of 23

December 22, 2018

LINCOLN — No big plot twists. No defections. Limited theatrics.

Signing day barely felt like signing day for Nebraska. And that was just fine for Scott Frost in his first full class as Husker coach.

Considering the recent standard set by NU — a combined 30 day-of decisions in the past two cycles — Wednesday was a breeze. Twenty National Letters of Intent were signed and sent to Memorial Stadium by 9:15 a.m. Of the four announcements involving Nebraska, three had happy endings.

What remained when the dust settled was a 23-player recruiting class ranked 18th nationally by Rivals and 24th by 247Sports. Eight walk-ons were also unveiled before Frost addressed the media for 25 minutes in the late afternoon.

“I think it was a pretty drama-free signing day for us because the commitments we had were commitments,” Frost said. “A bunch of good kids that gave us their pledge and we honored it and they honored it. There were a couple kids we were fighting for right down to the end but other than that, this group committed to us and we’re fired to sign and become part of our family. It was a pretty relaxing day for us.”

Coaches largely knew what to expect as the decisions played out publicly Wednesday morning to open the second early signing period, which concludes Friday. Defensive end Brant Banks of Houston pulled a Husker hat from an Amazon box during a live television broadcast with an ABC affiliate in his home town, turning down Baylor. Moments later, Florida pass rusher Lloyd Summerall chose the in-state Gators over NU and Miami as part of ESPN2′s daylong coverage. Multiple Nebraska coaches visited the prospect earlier in the month, though he was always considered a long shot to leave the Sunshine State.

The Huskers scored another signing-day victory shortly after 11 a.m. . when offensive lineman Jimmy Fritzsche of Greenville, South Carolina, made his choice public. In stark contrast to the trend of live streams and coordinated social-media releases, the news broke nationally when a local TV sports director tweeted out a blurry picture of Fritzsche — with his name spelled incorrectly in the post — donning a Nebraska cap.

Clemson extended an offer to Fritzsche late last week before his official visit to Nebraska. But reports from Clemson recruiting sites indicated the school moved on when it landed a surprise commit from another lineman.

“Jimmy kept an even-keel perspective about it,” Greenville coach David Crane said. “But he indicated to me ‘Well, it’s the hometown school, that’s what I’m going to do.’ He ended up coming back to the decision that was in the heart all along and made the decision that was best for him. He didn’t worry about all those folks around here.”

Nebraska’s biggest announcement fittingly capped the day — though coaches knew the outcome for nearly a week — when consensus four-star defensive end Ty Robinson chose NU just before 1 p.m. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound standout from Gilbert, Arizona, Higley plucked the red hat with a white block N from a lineup that included finalists Oregon, Alabama, USC and Stanford.

“Ty is our kind of kid,” Frost said. “I think he’s a Nebraska type of kid. It helps that his grandpa is from O’Neill, Nebraska.”

The only expected signature absent from the day was that of Garden City (Kansas) Community College running back Dedrick Mills. Messages to his phone and social media account went unanswered, as did attempts to reach his former and current coach at Garden City.

Frost said “a couple more” signatures could be announced eventually. One of those could belong to Arizona Western offensive lineman Desmond Bland, whom, like any juco prospect, NU wants to be sure clears academic hurdles.

With the handful of scholarships the Huskers have left — they could sign as many as 30 total in the class — Frost said he could use added depth at pass rusher, receiver and cornerback. But it will be a “best available” approach when the next recruiting contact period begins Jan. 11 and runs through Feb. 2 leading up to the traditional signing day Feb. 6.

“If we find a guy that we think can move the needle and help us win games in the Big Ten,” Frost said, “we’re going to take him.”

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