The new refrain changes “California” to “Calibraska,” and that’s something Husker coaches will want to make a regular phrase when it comes to recruiting. They have their sights set on a lot of prospects from the talent-rich state out west, and Johnson Jr. is just the first piece.
The Huskers signed four Californians in the 2016 class, the most in one year since 2009. NU will try to match that success in 2017 and has made the state a big point of emphasis in the early months of the cycle. The Huskers have offered at least 34 recruits from California in the 2017 class, with 25 of those offers having been extended since January.
So if Johnson Jr. can help lure some of those California prospects to Nebraska, it would make his commitment even more impactful. He’s popular among the other prospects in Southern California, and if you need evidence, just see how many recruits were tweeting about Nebraska after he committed. It also helps that he has a famous father that’s well-connected to the football scene around Los Angeles.
So who else might follow him to Lincoln?
The attention will obviously shift to Johnson Jr.’s teammates at Calabasas High School — Darnay Holmes and Tristan Gebbia. Both players have visited Lincoln this month and hold the Huskers high on their list. For Gebbia, Ole Miss and Washington seem to be the primary competition (his dad played at Ole Miss). For Holmes, UCLA and Stanford have the most momentum. Gebbia hopes to decide this spring, while Holmes has an announcement date set in June, though it’s possible he takes longer to decide.
Though these two will make their own decisions, having Johnson Jr. committed will only help the Huskers’ cause.
But Johnson Jr.’s influence won’t be limited to Calabasas. He can help the Huskers with players throughout Southern California, especially the wide receivers. Among the players to tweet congratulations to Johnson Jr. were Husker WR targets Taariq Johnson, Terrell Bynum, Rahyme Johnson and Jamire Calvin.
Taariq Johnson, a 6-foot-4 prospect from Buena Park High School, has spoken highly of the Huskers in interviews after getting offered on Feb. 10. He also has some teammates with Husker offers — offensive tackle Ryan Nelson, cornerback Elijah Gates and wide receiver Jeremiah Hawkins.
Rahyme Johnson has been committed to UCLA since the summer but has said publicly he’s open to other schools. He too has mentioned Nebraska in interviews discussing teams he’s interested in visiting. He also has a couple of teammates at Bishop Mora Salesian High School with Husker offers — cornerback Deommodore Lenoir and safety Nick Pickett.
Keep an eye too on Calvin, the speedy athlete from Los Angeles Cathedral High School. He even teased Husker fans in his tweet to Johnson Jr. saying “guess who might be next.” His teammate is worth watching as well — defensive end Hunter Echols, a UCLA commit.
Other Californians with Husker connections:
>> Tight end Grant Calcaterra attends Santa Margarita Catholic, where former NU wide receivers coach Rich Fisher is now the head coach.
>> Nebraska was the first — and thus far only power five school — to offer linebacker Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula from Sacramento.
>> Nick Pickett, the wide receiver from Salesian, has family in the Midwest.
None of the California recruits with Husker offers outside the Calabasas trio have visited Lincoln yet, though most of the guys mentioned have said they want to. And now that Johnson Jr. is committed, expect those recruits to be even more motivated to check out what the Huskers have to offer.
Omaha World-Herald: Big Red
Don't miss a moment of Nebraska athletics.