Player: Daishon Neal, DE
247Sports composite rankings: 3-star, No. 671 nationally, No. 37 SDE, No. 1 in NE
Why: Yes, cornerback Eric Lee is clearly the linchpin of the class. He was the first recruit to verbally commit to the Huskers and he stuck with his commitment despite the coaching change. However, he’s not the most important recruit in this class.
That belongs to defensive end Daishon Neal, and it all has to do with locking down the state of Nebraska. Neal’s commitment and eventual signing with the Huskers was massive, as it sent a message to the football players in the state of Nebraska that head coach Mike Riley and the coaching staff cared a lot more about the state than the previous coaching state.
A look back in the state rankings by class shows a lot of missed opportunities with some very good players. Names like Drew Ott (2012 class to Iowa), Christian LaCouture (2013 class to LSU) and Harrison Phillips (2014 class to Stanford) were all top 2 players in the state that have gone elsewhere.
That shouldn’t happen in a state with as little FBS talent as Nebraska does on many occasions. Neal was not a lock to commit to the Huskers until late in the process, so winning this one over the likes of Oklahoma and Michigan was big for Riley and the coaching staff.
Neal’s commitment can only signal good things for the future of keeping the best of the best in the state of Nebraska in the state going forward.