LINCOLN — Good news: Nebraska got top quarterback target Zack Darlington to visit Lincoln in June.
Bad news: The Apopka, Fla., star is taking the same kind of unofficial tour of Ohio State.
Good news: If Darlington pulls the trigger for the Buckeyes or some other school — I still think NU wows the kid — another SEC region prospect is emerging.
That's Florence, Ala., signal-caller Kendrick Doss, who's agreed to come to a day of Nebraska's quarterback camp and throw for NU offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who's had the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder on his radar since fall, but didn't offer until recently.
Best news: Doss is relying heavily on the advice of his high school coach, Jamey DuBose, to help make the decision. DuBose is likely coming with Doss to Lincoln in early June.
“He wants me there to listen in the background and watch,” DuBose said. “We've grown close. We trust each other. You have to when you hand a kid the ball on Friday night.”
Doss did plenty with that ball last year, running for 1,202 yards, passing for 1,743 and amassing 37 total touchdowns. A physical runner with good top-end speed, Doss has worked most on his passing, DuBose said, impressing teams that watch spring workouts.
“We don't throw just to throw it and waste time,” DuBose said. “We're going to do what we need to do to win. We do a lot of what Nebraska does. The read-zone offense fits Kendrick.”
Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State, among others, have offered, but Doss' biggest pursuer is Auburn, which hosted him Saturday for its Big Cat weekend. Consider it a plus Doss didn't commit.
And consider it a plus that Doss intends to graduate early, enroll in January and immediately compete for a starting job. He's started at quarterback, on varsity, since game one of his freshman year. He wants a situation where there isn't an established guy with two more years to play. Taylor Martinez plays his final season this year. Tommy Armstrong and Johnny Stanton will be here, but Doss matches up physically.
Doss said Beck is selling Nebraska's winning tradition. NU has had only two losing seasons in 50 years. Auburn has had four in the past 15 years alone.
“I knew they had tradition,” Doss said of the consistency, “but that says a lot about Nebraska.”
Doss plans to see Nebraska officially, as well, when the Huskers host Southern Mississippi. But the June audition is probably more important. Last year, Stanton threw for Beck in a similar setting. He became NU's quarterback commit roughly one month later.
DuBose thinks the Huskers have a chance specifically with Doss and generally in the South.
“Nebraska doesn't have to be scared to come to the SEC,” he said. “Nebraska's Nebraska. I see it as a national power. Even today, it raises the eyes.”
It certainly did when Beck flew in for the Jackson (Ala.) spring game to watch quarterback Matthew Jordan throw three touchdowns in a 41-20 win over Vigor High. Beck offered Jordan — 6-2, 198 pounds — Tuesday, and Jordan said Wednesday that he's planning to travel to Lincoln for Big Red Weekend June 14 and 15.
That might be because NU is, by some margin, Jordan's best offer. The rest of his top schools: South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Memphis.
“I fit Nebraska's offense just about perfectly,” said Jordan, a low three-star prospect who threw for 1,369 yards, ran for 724 yards and accounted for 26 total touchdowns last year. “Coach Beck said I reminded him of Taylor Martinez, only bigger. And he's good.”
SEC schools like Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn — all spread offenses — are chewing on potential offers. They're also looking at Jordan at safety. Jordan played defensive back and wide receiver in addition to quarterback for Jackson.
“I wish I had about six of him,” Jackson coach Danny Powell said. “He'd be my quarterback, my running back and all four of my wide receivers.”
Powell said Jordan runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, but “turns the corner on 4.4 guys.”
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Remember that Martinez started for the best high school team in the nation, playing one of his state's toughest schedules. The competition notwithstanding, Jordan's highlight film does show that burst Martinez seems to find 10 yards downfield. Remember, too, that Beck has described himself as a quarterback “advocate” in the past. Last year, he offered Damian Hobbs out of Texas on May 13. Hobbs committed first to Arkansas State, then Utah State, then, a week before signing day, Oregon scooped him up.
Jordan said an early commitment to NU is possible.
“If I feel like it's home,” he said, “I'll know it and commit.”
Fort Scott connection
Look for NU again to be active on the junior college market for offensive and defensive linemen. The Huskers are now offering one of the nation's top plug-it-up defensive tackles, Abu Lamin, who plays at a familiar school to Husker fans: Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. Well, “play” is, for now, an inexact word. Lamin redshirted last year. His junior college highlights are from practice. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound frame does the talking.
Lamin confirmed Monday via text that he plans to attend Nebraska's Big Red Weekend, but the Fayetteville, N.C., native on Sunday told Palmetto Sports that a certain group of Gamecocks are in the hunt, too.
“South Carolina, that's the closest to the crib,” Lamin said. “My mom could come see me play.”
Nebraska's old contact at Fort Scott, Jeff Sims, is now Carl Pelini's recruiting coordinator at Florida Atlantic.
On the offensive line, you'll recall Nebraska has offered Garden City (Kan.) Community College prospect Dontavius Blair and Long Island, N.Y., prospect Chad Mavety. Blair told Rivals.com over the weekend that Nebraska is recruiting him “pretty hard.” Alabama is all over Mavety, who also likes Miami and Ohio State. According to TideSports.com, Bama could offer Blair, too.
>Scanning the nation
Ľ Papillion-La Vista athlete Kenzo Cotton picked up a Wisconsin offer just days after he blistered the 100-meter state record. Nebraska wants Cotton to attend a day of its camp in early June. Remember that NU asks a lot of its corners in man-to-man coverage. Good ball skills. Good physicality.
If Oregon offers, pay attention. Eugene calls itself Tracktown USA.
Ľ Michigan caught a big fish Sunday in Paramus, N.J., five-star athlete Jabrill Peppers. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound athlete's commit puts the Wolverines as the No. 1 national class — for now, of course — for 247Sports and ESPN. The Wolverines may be tough to catch in the Big Ten race, too, given some of the players they're pursuing.
Peppers, who announced his commit on ESPNU in a freestyle rap before holding up and eventually squeezing the winged helmet, is a big, rangy defensive back who can return kicks and punts and perhaps even play some wide receiver. Michigan, which is actually lacking top-flight skill players, will use Peppers early and often.
“It was always my dream to play for Michigan,” Peppers said on ESPNU. “Once I went out there to Ann Arbor, it just blew me away. It was inevitable.”
UM is also a big player for the nation's top pass rusher, Da'Shawn Hand. Coach Brady Hoke and seasoned staff sell the brand well.
Ľ Northwestern received its 11th commit of the class from Lawrence (Kan.) Free State defensive tackle Fred Wyatt, who did not have a Nebraska offer.
Ľ Remember the name Ula Tolutau. Wisconsin grabbed the low three-star fullback out of Salt Lake City — an area Gary Andersen, Utah State's former coach, would know well — and I expect the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder to be a steal in UW's new power spread offense. Not a feature back, but a piece of the offense who can block and bust a quick dive.
Ľ Malik Zaire, a 2013 Husker quarterback target, has fallen into unexpected fortune at Notre Dame after what seemed like a foolish decision. When the lefty Zaire committed to the Irish last year, he was staring at a long bench with his name on it, given the presence of redshirt freshman Everett Golson and true freshman Gunner Kiel.
Kiel transferred to Cincinnati in the offseason, and Golson's now been kicked out of school for a semester. What ND has on hand — Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix — doesn't melt coach Brian Kelly's heart, considering he started Golson over both of them. Zaire — a silky thrower and arguably Tim Beck's first pick in the spring of 2012 — will get his shot at the starting job.
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