Recruiting: Huskers impress WR Thad Johnson, make top six of junior college lineman

Thad Johnson was taught to respect men who look him in eye. When the 2020 wide receiver prospect made a recent recruiting trip to Nebraska, he sat down with Husker offensive coordinator Troy Walters and immediately had a good impression.

“He looked me in the eye and told me the truth,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver from Beaumont (Texas) West Brook. “That means a lot to me.”

The truth, in this case, is Nebraska likes Johnson — a three-star prospect according to Rivals and 247Sports — for the outside and inside receiver spots. Johnson played both during his junior year, when he caught 57 passes for 1,193 yards and 11 touchdowns at West Brook, which advanced to the Texas 6A state title game. West Brook’s offense, Johnson said, might as well be a carbon copy of Nebraska’s. Johnson and his coach were calling out plays while they watched NU film with Husker coaches.

Walters is one key reason why Johnson is strongly considering Nebraska. So is Scott Frost.

“Everybody there is just genuine,” Johnson said. “They’re real with you.”

No fake excitement or false presentations, Johnson said. Just coaches who acted like they normally would around each other.

“Nebraska, I’m feelin’ it,” Johnson said on his way to a visit at Tennessee. He’ll head back home after that, sit down with family and narrow his list in two weeks. He wants to pick a school before the season starts. Johnson has offers from NU, Tennessee, Oregon, Arizona, Texas Tech and Utah, among others. The biggest in-state schools — Texas, TCU and Texas A&M — haven’t offered. Group of Five programs in the state have, including North Texas, where two of his West Brook teammates signed for the 2019 class. An ACL injury to one of them — Damon Ward — helped open the door to Johnson’s big junior season.

“I knew I had to step up,” Johnson said.

More recruiting notes:

» Nebraska extended a preferred walk-on offer this week to Grand Blanc (Michigan) long snapper Camden Witucki, who attended NU’s specialist camp. Witucki was invited to the camp by Zach Crespo, NU’s quality control coach for special teams. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Witucki is ranked as the nation’s No. 4 long snapper by Kornblue Kicking.

It does appear the Huskers will end a trend of offering scholarships to long snappers. In the 2013 class, NU signed Gabriel Miller to a scholarship. In the 2015 class, NU did the same for Jordan Ober, who was replaced in punting situations last season by walk-on Chase Urbach, who is a senior in 2019.

» Iowa Western offensive lineman Jacob Gamble released a top six Friday. Nebraska made the list, as did Kansas State, Iowa State, Houston, Louisville and West Virginia. The Huskers are actively recruiting multiple Reivers this cycle, including Gamble, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey and receiver Marcus Rogers.

» Isaiah Jacobs, the younger brother of former Alabama running back Joshua Jacobs, told The World-Herald he’s hearing quite a bit from the Huskers. The younger Jacobs — 5-10, 195 pounds — is a three-star prospect from Owasso, Oklahoma, and has offers from NU, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Iowa State, among others. Joshua Jacobs was known for being almost entirely ignored by top colleges — including OSU and Oklahoma — during his recruiting process before Alabama swooped in just before signing day 2016 and landed him. Jacobs was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft.

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