College football recruiting is now in its second year of offering both an early signing period and the standard National Signing Day for recruits to sign on the dotted line. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and staff did an excellent job of locking down some of the biggest recruits on their board in time for the December stretch. The several weeks leading up to the traditional February date has taken on a life of its own.
We’ve seen plenty of standard recruiting drama come out of this smaller window already. There are two questions remaining for the Huskers: Who is left as legitimate targets and what direction does the program go in regardless of the National Signing Day haul?
Here are the most prominent names you’ll hear about between now and Wednesday, Feb. 6:
John Bivens, RB
A somewhat curious case due to extensive knee ligament damage, Nebraska seems interested with what Bivens brings to the table despite his injuries. The Dayton, Ohio, prospect has been pursued by Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, and others. These schools no doubt see Bivens as the same manner of speed back that Nebraska would utilize assuming he can return to form, but that's a large gamble. Still, the recruitment seems difficult to make heads or tails of meaning we likely don’t get an answer until the big day arrives.
Demariyon Houston, WR
Not long ago, it appeared there was one spot available between fellow receiver Charles Njoku and Houston, who were both seriously considering the Big Red at the time. At one point, Njoku seemed like he was as close to a sure commit as you could get for Nebraska. Then along came UCLA and Chip Kelly. Frost had already exhausted his in-home visit, which gave the Bruins an edge as Kelly swooped in for the final face-to-face. No doubt Njoku having family in the Los Angeles area helped him feel even more comfortable as he would announce his pledge to UCLA.
This brings us to Houston. The former Texas commit was seen on Twitter hosting Frost, offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Troy Walters, and Ryan Held, a powerful trio of recruiters sporting scarlet. He was originally scheduled to visit Penn State on the weekend of Jan. 26, but those plans were nixed. He also flirted with a Boulder trip to get familiar with first-year head coach Mel Tucker and the Colorado Buffaloes. That didn’t happen, either. While the Huskers could certainly use a big-bodied receiver like Njoku, Houston would add even more speed to a receiver corps that looks ready to slice and dice Big Ten defenses in the coming years.
Steven Parker, OLB
Nebraska needs pass rushers and versatile linebackers in a big way both for immediate impact and depth purposes. It would’ve been ideal to lock down both Parker and Dylan Jordan, whose stock shot through the roof in recent weeks. Unfortunately for the Big Red, the Kansas native decided to stay in Big 12 country and sign with TCU.
Parker would be far from a consolation prize, however. Like defensive end signee Jamin Graham, he has an exceptional wingspan and not only the strength to compete in the Big Ten but likely a quicker developmental rate than Graham largely due to the latter’s project status. Frost and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander were in Dallas to visit Parker earlier this week. With Jordan picking the Horned Frogs, expect the full-court press.
Eugene Asante, OLB
The younger brother of former Nebraska safety Larry Asante would be another solid get with the aforementioned Jordan now off the board. Eugene Asante possesses ball-hawking instincts and a hard-hitting style similar to his sibling. Much like Jordan, the spotlight on Asante increased significantly following the early signing period. Getting his signature will be anything but easy, however. As it stands, Asante appears to be favoring in-state Virginia Tech. Mack Brown and North Carolina will get an opportunity to wow him during this upcoming weekend meaning time is short for the Big Red to make an impression.
Following his visit to UNC, he’ll have used up four official trips out of an allotted five as he’s already visited Florida State, Virginia Tech, and UCLA. Another full staff visit might be the only way to firmly plant Nebraska as a possibility in Asante’s mind, if not get him out to Lincoln.
Update: Previous report that Asante will be visiting Lincoln this weekend has been corrected. He will not be taking an official visit to Nebraska this weekend.
With defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao’s recruiting practically going radio silent junior college defensive end Soni Fonua seemingly infatuated with Oklahoma State with a trip to LSU lined up, each appears extremely doubtful to sign with the Big Red. However, if Pola-Mao decides to go the JUCO route, he could very well find himself at a location that favors Nebraska such as Iowa Western Community College.
Regardless of what happens, expect the Huskers to leave a couple of spots open to address any glaring needs following spring practice once Frost and his staff have a better idea of where the roster stands.
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces). To contact him with tips, story ideas or for interview purposes, click here.