LINCOLN — Nebraska continued its recruiting foray into the high school football hotbed of New Orleans — and the Huskers may not be done yet in the 2014 cycle.
NU landed its 20th commit for the class Thursday in 6-foot-3, 185-pound wide receiver Jariah Tolbert of Edna Karr High School. A two-star prospect who committed to Nebraska over Utah, Tolbert is the teammate of linebacker commit Jaevon Walton, who verbally pledged to the Huskers earlier this fall. Nebraska has offered a third Karr athlete — wide receiver Glenn Irons — whom Karr coach Nathaniel Jones said is considering the Huskers in his top group.
“These guys are some of the best football players in Louisiana,” Jones said. “Bo Pelini’s done a good job of working his contacts and recruiting in New Orleans.”
Previously LSU’s defensive coordinator before becoming Nebraska’s coach, Pelini has hit Louisiana for prospects often. He and former defensive backs coach Terry Joseph watched a Karr game in person this year and offered Walton not long after. Later, Jones said, wide receivers coach Rich Fisher evaluated Tolbert and Irons on his own and offered both.
Tolbert, Jones said, has major potential. Jones said he believes Tolbert can eventually run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash — ESPN’s recruiting site lists Tolbert’s 40 time as 4.87 seconds — and may be able to carry as much as 220 pounds. Tolbert had at least 1,000 yards receiving this year, Jones said. He’s also a good student, so academically qualifying won’t be an issue.
“Of all my guys, Jariah has the biggest upside,” Jones said. “... He’s a big, vertical, downfield receiver. He’ll fit in well in the Big Ten.”
Tolbert is the third true wide receiver to commit for the 2014 class, joining Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West two-sport star Monte Harrison and Hinds (Miss.) Community College’s Robert Lockhart. Harrison is widely considered a Top 100 prospect for the 2014 Major League Baseball first-year player draft and may have to choose between college football and pro baseball. A fourth commit, Washington, D.C.-area athlete Demornay Pierson-El, could play wide receiver or running back. Pierson-El was an option quarterback for his senior year at Alexandria (Va.) West Potomac High School.
Tolbert is slated to visit Jan. 17 or Jan. 24, Jones said. Irons, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound slot receiver, is scheduled to visit Jan. 17. A two-star prospect, Irons has offers from Tulane, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette, among others.
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Current Husker tight end Cethan Carter — also from New Orleans — was a two-star prospect late in the 2013 recruiting cycle when he committed to Nebraska. He got late offers from Miami and Southern Mississippi, and a grayshirt offer from LSU. He turned those down and caught 10 passes for 127 yards this year, starting six games. He’s the frontrunner to start next year at tight end.
“It started with Cethan,” Jones said.
Jones credited Carter, who played at Archbishop Rummel High School, with helping Pelini and Joseph woo Walton. Walton, in turn, has been working on Tolbert and Irons. Jones said the 6-foot, 235-pound Walton — named to the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Large School All-Metro team and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s 4A all-state team — was the “best defensive player in the state of Louisiana.”
“He’s a little sawed-off, but he makes every play,” Jones said. “He’ll make the Blackshirts better.”
Ľ Notes: Pelini and his staff continue to evaluate candidates for two recruiting support positions, football supervisor Jamie Williams said by text this week. NU posted openings for a director of recruiting operations and a director of player personnel this fall. The positions help support Nebraska’s recruiting coordinator — currently linebackers coach Ross Els — in identifying and then evaluating prospects who are worthy of offers.