JJ Kohl has questions. Quite a few.
The four-star quarterback from Ankeny, Iowa, has done lots of asking lately at Junior Day events. Missouri two weeks ago. Iowa State last week. Next up is Nebraska, where his conversation starters with coaches will be similar.
What are they looking for in a starting QB? What makes the Huskers different? Why should he go there?
“At these other visits I’ve gotten time personally with the offensive coordinators and QB coaches,” Kohl said. “I’ve been able to connect with these coaches, which is something I wasn’t able to do at game-day visits.”
Nebraska’s Junior Day on Saturday will consist of a photoshoot, meetings with position coaches, group tours, a panel with current NU players and an academic presentation. It will be the last until March 5 because a recruiting dead period goes into effect Sunday until March 1.
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The Huskers hosted 20-plus recruits last weekend and are bringing in a similar number this time.
The 6-foot-6, 227-pound Kohl completed 60% of his passes last year and threw for 25 touchdowns against four interceptions. He received a Nebraska offer when he attended the Purdue game Oct. 30. The Huskers have since brought in a new coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Mark Whipple, who stopped by Kohl’s high school earlier this month.
Kohl, Whipple and Ankeny coach Rick Nelson chatted for more than 90 minutes that day about everything from drills to Whipple’s time at Pitt.
“I had a lot of questions about Kenny Pickett,” Kohl said, referring to the Pittsburgh QB whom Whipple helped develop into a Heisman Trophy finalist last season.
Kohl named three top considerations for his future school: A connection with the coaches, an offense that fits his skills and the potential for early playing time. He’s looking to commit sometime this spring and is focusing on roughly five suitors right now.
One is Iowa State, where his father, Jamie, was a kicker. Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Florida State are among his other offers.
“Getting recruited to play college football, I’m living out my dream right now,” Kohl said. “It’s awesome.”
Nebraska has offered at least three other 2023 quarterbacks in the past two weeks — Christopher Vizzina (Birmingham, Alabama), Avery Johnson (Maize, Kansas) and William Watson (Springfield, Massachusetts).
Here’s a look at some of the other recruits in the 2023 class set to attend Junior Day, according to reports and World-Herald confirmations:
Jamison Patton, ATH (Des Moines, Iowa): Patton received a Nebraska offer the same October weekend as Kohl, and the friends coordinated their return trip to Lincoln to be at the same time. The three-star recruit is considered an Iowa State lean but has Iowa, Missouri and Washington in the running, too. He has played some quarterback and receiver but projects as a defensive back in college.
DJ Braswell, RB (Sandersville, Georgia): The speedy back walked the Memorial Stadium sidelines for the Purdue game and received his first offer from Nebraska in the days following. He’s added Florida State and Georgia Tech this month. He’ll return to Lincoln to meet new Husker running backs coach Bryan Applewhite and others in person.
Joe Otting, OL (Topeka, Kansas): The multisport athlete received his Nebraska offer while attending the Purdue game. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder is building strong regional interest with other offers including Iowa State, Missouri and both Kansas schools.
Kevon Freeman, ILB (Lake Charles, Louisiana): Freeman was a playmaking defender last season — 94 tackles, 11 QB hurries, two forced fumbles — and became a quick Nebraska offer when Mickey Joseph was hired from LSU in December. Tulane, Marshall and Auburn are others who have followed after the three-star prospect since then.
Quinten Joyner, RB (Manor, Texas): The four-star rusher doesn’t yet hold a Nebraska offer but has been hot this month with seven new Division I offers, including Oklahoma State and Penn State. The 5-foot-11, 203-pounder dominated one of the state’s largest classifications last season with 2,494 rushing yards (11.2 per carry) and 31 touchdowns in 12 games.
Martin Owusu, DL (Prior Lake, Minnesota): Owusu visited Lincoln for the Iowa game last year but will meet with a new position coach after Mike Dawson took over for Tony Tuioti. The unrated 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has early offers from Northern Iowa, Wyoming, Illinois State and Central Michigan.
Multiple priority targets for future cycles also will be on campus. The 2024s include Omaha Westside cornerback Caleb Benning, Bellevue West receiver Dae’vonn Hall and cornerback Mario Buford, the brother of current NU defensive back Marques Buford.
Class of 2025 linebacker Christian Jones of Omaha Burke will be in attendance. The Huskers became his first Division I offer last fall.
Other 2023 prospects set to arrive include athlete Brock Murtaugh (Millard South), receiver Kade McIntyre (Fremont Bergan), linebacker Kade Seip (Lincoln North Star), athlete Merritt Skinner (Ogallala), linebacker Kooper Ebel (Hartley, Iowa) and offensive lineman Beau Knobloch (Winterset, Iowa).
Another notable 2023 is three-star D-lineman JaQuize Buycks, who is gaining recent interest and reported an Arizona State offer this week.