LINCOLN — Plant City (Fla.) defensive end Sedrick King's commitment to Nebraska Monday might have been a shock to Husker fans and recruiting analysts.
But NU defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski had been working on flipping the 6-foot-4, 211-pound three-star prospect from Central Florida to Nebraska for some time.
“It's not out of the blue,” said Greg Meyer, Plant City's defensive coordinator. “Coach Kaczenski did a good job of staying persistent. He kept at it.”
So King — who had picked Central Florida over offers from Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia and others because he wanted to stay close to home — took a hush-hush official visit to Lincoln last weekend. It was like the old recruiting stories where the scouting services and opposing coaches didn't get a whiff of the visit.
“Not a lot of people knew,” Meyer said.
King told Huskers Illustrated, among other recruiting sites, that he loved the trip.
“Nebraska was better than what I imagined,” he said. “I mean it was really cool to just see the stadium. I didn't know that much about the team or that they sold out every game. That's going to be exciting.”
He liked it so much, he told Husker Online, that he committed Sunday before he left Lincoln. He then informed UCF, which won the Fiesta Bowl this season, that he'd changed his mind. King didn't return calls or texts from The World-Herald.
For Nebraska's time and effort, Meyer said, King will offer versatility. Plant City — which plays in Class 7A, the second largest in Florida — used a 4-2-5 and 3-4 defense. King played rush end in the four-man front and outside linebacker in the 3-4. Meyer said King gave up just one pass completion this season and intercepted two screen passes. King also had 30 quarterback hurries, 11 tackles for loss and six sacks.
“His first step is phenomenal and he's great whatever position he's playing at,” Meyer said. “Sedrick was so versatile that when we flipped between the two defenses, we didn't have to substitute at all.”
Since Kaczenski's arrival at Nebraska after the 2011 regular season, he, defensive coordinator John Papuchis and coach Bo Pelini — who visited King via the private plane he uses in December and January — have put a premium on longer, leaner defensive ends. All-Big Ten end Randy Gregory fits this mold, as did 2013 recruits A.J. Natter, Ernest Suttles and Dimarya Mixon. Natter redshirted while Suttles was booted off the team in the summer and Mixon never qualified. Their combined absences meant the Huskers had to hunt for ends again in the 2014 cycle.
The Huskers picked up a commit from three-star end Darius Slade in December, but Slade flipped to Michigan State in mid-January. King is shorter and thinner than Slade, but of similar mold with, if the highlight films are accurate, a bit more speed.
Meyer said King will have no problem adding weight if Nebraska asks him to do it.
“Another 20 pounds would be adequate,” Meyer said.
But King held his own this year against Plant City's top recruit, 6-foot-4, 332-pound Alabama offensive line commit Montel McBride.
“Sedrick's one of the few guys who can go at him head to head,” Meyer said.
King is the 23rd commit for the class. NU remains interested in bringing Delray Beach (Fla.) three-star Kevin Bronson for an official visit this weekend.