Recruiting season is back, and it might be one of the best Nebraska has seen in over a decade. Here's our prep football top 25 for the 2019 class, last updated August 29, 2018:
25. Chandler Cotton (Running Back, Papillion-La Vista South)
Cotton has the size, speed, and physicality to improve upon a standout 2017 season that saw him rush for over 1,000 yards and score 13 touchdowns. Expect a much larger statistical season for Cotton this year.
24. Zach Clausen (Quarterback, Lincoln East)
The bright spot of a struggling Lincoln East team, Clausen has good size and a great arm. Watch for Clausen to try and lead the Spartans back to the playoffs.
23. Shane Smith (Wide Receiver, Bellevue West)
Smith is the best senior pure wide receiver in the state — not to mention that he plays alongside junior four-star Zavier Betts. After posting just 493 yards in 2017, he will look to have a bounce back season. He's proven to be a viable red zone threat and caught eight touchdowns last season.
22. Noah Stafursky (Offensive Line, York)
Stafursky has a college-ready body and is also strong in pass protection for the defending Class B champions.
21. Jalen Powell (Defensive Line, Bellevue West)
This undersized edge rusher uses his superior speed to get to the football. Powell totaled 11.5 sacks last season and will likely continue to develop.
20. Cole Aniello (Offensive/Defensive Line, Millard West)
Aniello has elite size for both sides of the line. The Wildcat standout has offers from Columbia and Cornell, and will play offensive line in college. He also has a walk-on offer from the Cornhuskers.
19. Darius Luff (Defensive Back, Lincoln High, North Dakota Commit)
As the second Link to commit to North Dakota, Luff is a defensive standout. He tallied two picks and a fumble recovery in 2017. A phenomenal multi-sport athlete, Luff is set to play football over running track at the next level.
18. DJ Gross (Tight End, McCook, South Dakota Commit)
The small school prospect has already committed to playing at South Dakota and looks to have another high-impact season.
17. Sam Kolterman (Linebacker, Wahoo)
Kolterman rushes the quarterback as well as anyone in the state. He wreaked havoc upon opposing offenses, racked up 11 sacks, and forced an extremely impressive 5 fumbles in 2017. Look for Kolterman to continue pushing for college offers this season.
16. Ryan Bena (Offensive Line, Omaha Creighton Prep)
Bena, alongside his other teammate on this list, appears to have big things ahead of him this season. He's the tough, physical presence up front that the Junior Jays need.
15. Bailey Darnell (Linebacker/Running Back, Auburn, South Dakota State Commit)
Darnell was a fairly unheralded prospect until 2017, when he had a breakout season that resulted in him committing to South Dakota State. Expect big things as Darnell leads Auburn on both sides of the ball.
14. Caden McCormack (Linebacker, Lincoln Southwest)
McCormack tallied 113 tackles in 2017 and will enter his senior year as one of the best linebackers in Nebraska. The two-sport athlete will try and help a middle of the pack Southwest team rise up the ranks in 2018.
13. James Burks (Running Back/Linebacker, Omaha Burke)
Last season, Burks led Class A with 1,934 rushing yards; he also posted 29 touchdowns. He'll perfectly compliment the fully-loaded, state contending Bulldogs.
12. Luke Sims (Fullback/Defensive Line, Omaha Creighton Prep)
Sims is the top returning defender at Prep, and he will also fill a key role on offense. Despite playing fullback, Sims ran for 1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
11. Cedric Case (Quarterback, Lincoln High, North Dakota Commit)
After starting his high school career as part of a two-quarterback system, Case broke out in 2017 — throwing for 3,249 yards and 35 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He is committed to North Dakota and will look to lead the Links deep into the playoffs.
10. Mekhi Butler (Offensive Line, Omaha North)
A smashmouth football team like Omaha North needs a dominant offensive line, and Butler is their biggest piece. The left tackle will anchor the line for the defending Class A state champs.
9. Dylan Kautz (Running Back, Norfolk Catholic)
The defending Class C-2 state champ running back is blazing fast, running a speedy 4.44 40-yard dash at the Husker's Friday Night Lights camp. He'll be deciding between walking on to Minnesota or going to a Division II school.
8. Luke Reimer (Athlete, Lincoln North Star, South Dakota State Commit)
Last season, Reimer made a swift transition from playing eight-man football in Kansas to eleven-man at North Star. He played receiver, quarterback, linebacker, and safety for North Star last year. Reimer is a hard commit to South Dakota State, where he will play outside linebacker. It is unknown what position(s) he'll will play this season, but expect excellence.
7. Caden Johnson (Defensive Line/Offensive Line, Wahoo Bishop Neumann)
Johnson locks down the exterior of the line on both sides of the ball for Bishop Neumann. He registered 75 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble in 2017. Johnson is currently considering Iowa, Iowa State, Army, and Nebraska — among others.
6. Ethan Piper (Defensive Line, Norfolk Catholic, Nebraska Commit)
The deceptively athletic 285-pound defensive tackle, reported to have a 31-inch vertical leap, is one of the four confirmed in-state Nebraska recruits. Piper will continue to stuff the run and get at the opposing quarterback for the Knights in 2018.
5. Zander Gray (Running Back, Omaha North)
Gray is one of the biggest running backs Nebraska has seen in years. He's also very elusive and athletic. Gray ran for 1,707 yards and a whopping 25 touchdowns en route to winning the Class A title in 2017. These numbers should only improve, no longer sharing a backfield with Milton Sarbagh. Gray has yet to commit to a college, but has offers from North Dakota and South Dakota.
4. Garrett Nelson (Defensive Line, Scottsbluff, Nebraska Commit)
This three-star recruit will attempt to match last season’s production, which will be a tall order. The Nebraska commit finished last season with 111 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
3. Garrett Snodgrass (Athlete, York, Nebraska Commit)
Nebraska will have to figure out where to play Snodgrass. The three-star athlete from York has played quarterback, running back, tight end, and all three linebacker spots. Regardless of where he lines up this season, expect a huge year from Snodgrass as he attempts to lead York to their second-straight Class B championship.
2. Chris Hickman (Tight End, Omaha Burke)
Standing at 6-5, Hickman is a hard man to miss on and off the field With his combination of fluid running and hands, Hickman is a four-star prospect that is favored to go to Nebraska. He’s set to officially visit the Huskers soon. Hickman will try to top his touchdown reception record — last season's eight catches — in 2018.
1. Nick Henrich (Linebacker, Omaha Burke, Nebraska Commit)
The hard-hitting inside linebacker is Nebraska's top prospect due to his superior mix of size, strength and speed. Henrich is a four-star prospect, and is the fifth-best inside linebacker in the country. From Florida to Oregon, he had top offers spanning across the nation. Instead, Henrich will bring his talents down I-80 to help head coach Scott Frost revive the Husker football program.