LINCOLN — Michigan State may have won the Big Ten title Saturday, but Wednesday morning Nebraska won a key recruiting battle over the Spartans and Penn State when Montclair, N.J., defensive end Darius Slade committed to the Huskers during a ceremony at his high school.
Slade’s visit in late November for NU’s loss to Iowa was the clinching factor despite ties to PSU and MSU’s top-ranked defense.
“It was the family atmosphere and the way I fit in with the players and pretty much interacted with everyone,” Slade told The World-Herald in a text message. “I love the class I’m coming in with. We’re going to be a very dominant football team going forward.”
In an interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, Slade said Nebraska is “a beautiful place to be at. And on top of that, Nebraska doesn’t have any professional teams at all. So pretty much, all they have is Nebraska football. Although I hear that Nebraska volleyball is good out there, too. So I’m gonna play in a cool environment.”
Slade told the Star-Ledger he was equally impressed by defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski. Slade cited Kaczenski’s ability to produce NFL players as one factor in his decision. Kaczenski sent many players at Iowa to the NFL, and Nebraska sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory has the potential to be a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2015 according ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
A 6-foot-5, 237-pound three-star prospect according to every major recruiting service, Slade had 63 tackles and 23.5 sacks as a senior Montclair has won back-to-back state titles in New Jersey in the top division of North Jersey. Montclair had four shutouts this season. Slade had offers from MSU, PSU, Rutgers, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, among others. One of Slade’s teammates, Austin Stevens, has been committed to Kansas.
Slade is the 19th commit for NU’s 2014 class and the fourth defensive line commit, joining junior college stars Terrell Clinkscales and Joe Keels and Hiawatha, Kan., defensive tackle Peyton Newell. Two more Husker commits — Gretna’s Mick Stoltenberg and Kansas City-area athlete Freedom Akinmoladun, could play either tight end or defensive end. Slade is another long, lanky end that replaces what the Huskers lost when 2013 commit Ernest Suttles was booted from the team this summer and 2013 commit Dimarya Mixon failed to academically qualify. Mixon resurfaced at Tennessee; Suttles at Memphis.