Nebraska received a commitment from Independence (Kan.) Community College defensive back Nadab Joseph on Friday. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder:
1. His addition may allow the Huskers more flexibility on defense and options down the road. Joseph becomes NU’s 24th scholarship player of the 2020 class — the 25th, come fall, is expected to be Isaac Gifford — because he’s projected to eventually be a major contributor. There’s no guarantees in this game — Nebraska’s juco experiences run the gamut from Lavonte David to Joe Keels — but Joseph has the length and speed to compete in the Big Ten. And, if nothing else, his legs are fresh as he’s played just five games in two seasons. Can he play a lot right away? He’d have to pick up NU’s scheme and his role in it pretty quickly. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and position coach Travis Fisher had another late recruit at Central Florida, Mike Hughes, do that and become a first-round NFL draft pick.
But that’s a lot to ask of Joseph, and it shouldn’t be the definite expectation that he start, considering Dicaprio Bootle, Cam Taylor-Britt and Braxton Clark are all experienced corners, and at safety there's Deontai Williams, Marquel Dismuke and fast-rising Myles Farmer. If Joseph can become one of NU’s top three corners, it allows the Huskers to move Taylor-Britt around a little bit — to a nickel/slot corner role — or move Bootle back to safety for a drive or two, since he’s pretty good back there. Joseph also has three seasons of eligibility, so he could have a special teams/backup role in 2020 before having a much bigger role in 2021 when Bootle, Dismuke and Williams have graduated. Joseph played some safety in high school, so that’s an option as well.
Joseph’s recruiting ranking says he should play a lot in 2020. But, unlike Omar Manning at wide receiver, Joseph joins a position with senior leadership and experience.
2. No Power Five team loves the jucos more than Nebraska right now. The Huskers signed six in the 2020 class, including the second- and third-ranked juco prospects in Manning and Joseph. Five play defense and will help the Huskers bridge the gap between the last of the Mike Riley-era recruits (Damion Daniels, Ben Stille, Deontre Thomas, Collin Miller, JoJo Domann, Dismuke, Bootle) and the youngsters recruited by Frost. The Huskers' new philosophy of roster management is aggressive and rigorous, with an eye toward quality depth.
NU also signed six jucos in 2018, including Will Jackson — who left the program after a month. Among those six, Will Honas has been the biggest contributor, with three (Jackson, Greg Bell and Jaron Woodyard) making a minimal impact. In 2019, Nebraska signed two — Dedrick Mills and Keem Green — with Mills being a big success.
With these six in 2020, Nebraska will have signed 14 juco prospects in three years.
3. The Huskers are likely getting a hungry player. Joseph spent the better part of four years being recruited by nearly every power program in the South. At various times he was committed to LSU, Alabama and Georgia, signing with the Bulldogs. He’s big, fast and he can hit, so the recruiting attention made sense. But Joseph has now reached the point where all of the recruiting attention either will or won’t turn into on-field collegiate production. Much of the media conversation surrounding Joseph has been about which programs recruited him out of high school. He’s a Husker now, and will play or not play based on his performance. Look for a guy ready to prove something.
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