Big 12: Brion Carnes

Big 12 links: Anybody else missing college football?

February, 8, 2010
Heck of a Super Bowl game last night, wasn't it?

But as good of a game as the New Orleans-Indianapolis matchup was, I'll take a college football game over a pro one any day of the week.

The passion you saw last night at Sun Life Stadium is a regular occurrence every Saturday during the fall.

Here are some Big 12 lunch links to help provide some information to get us ready for the upcoming spring practices across the conference.

Nebraska recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
Nebraska Cornhuskers

Total class: 21

ESPN 150: 1

By position: DT 3, DE 3, ATH 2, QB 2, OT 2, CB 2, S 2, RB 1, WR 1, TE 1, OLB 1, G 1

By state: Texas 5, Nebaska 4, Florida 2, Colorado 2, California 2, Missouri 1, Illinois 1, Ohio 1, Minnesota 1, Louisiana 1, Mississippi 1.

Already enrolled in school: 3.

The big ones: Massive 298-pound guard Andrew Rodriguez, the nation's seventh ranked player at his position and the Cornhuskers’ only player on the ESPNU 150, looks like he could develop into a dominant player in the trenches. Safety Corey Cooper, a late decommittment from Illinois and the nation's No. 20 rated safety, arrives at Nebraska’s biggest defensive position of need.

Sleeper: WR/KR/DB Ken Bell, son of former Denver Broncos player Ken Bell, struggled with injuries during his senior season in high school. But he has played well at a variety of positions and has been clocked at 4.29 in the 40-yard dash.

Needs met: With the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Barry Turner to graduation and Pierre Allen entering his senior season, the Cornhuskers filled a gap with six defensive linemen. Corey Cooper and Harvey Jackson should fill the biggest defensive need at safety. But the Cornhuskers still are looking for offensive firepower and added only one wide receiver.

Analysis: The Cornhuskers added a couple of late additions when Cooper and QB Brion Carnes joined on Wednesday. But they missed on the really big recruit when Owamagbe Odighizuwa decided to go to UCLA. Coach Bo Pelini doesn’t agree with the perception that this class is lacking on offensive playmakers. But there's no debate that he addressed most of the Cornhuskers' most pressing needs with a typically wide-ranging class with players attracted from 11 states.

What Bo Pelini said: On recruiting ratings: "I don't pay that much attention to it, other then when I'm down and I really want to get a good laugh." On not attracting Owamagbe Odighizuwa: “It’s his mistake. Honestly, I don’t get all caught up in all that. I don’t get all stressed out about whether they’re going to come. I thought he was a pretty good player. But in my mind, the kids that don’t choose to come here I don’t believe do themselves a service because I believe we’ll develop them better than the other guy. That’s just the confidence I have.”

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: C-plus, seventh in Big 12.

Cornhuskers lose Odighizuwa to UCLA

February, 3, 2010
Nebraska missed out on its biggest potential recruit when Owamagbe Odighizuwa picked UCLA over the Cornhuskers and Oregon State.

In a nationally televised announcement on ESPNU Wednesday afternoon, Odighizuwa chose the Bruins after Nebraska was thought to have a strong chance at the prospect from David Douglas High School in Portland, Ore.

Odighizuwa would have given the Cornhuskers an immediate threat at defensive end as they lose senior Barry Turner and will lose Pierre Allen after next season.

His final choice was a difficult one and something he said he didn't take lightly.

"This decision will affect the next 40 years for me and not four," Odighizuwa said. "It's something I have to be proud about."

And in the end, he said that UCLA was the best place for him to play college football.

"UCLA is the right fit because I felt real comfortable with the coaching staff," Odighizuwa said. "The academics are good. Their football program is on the rise. At the end of the day I felt most comfortable at the school."

Odighizuwa's choice takes a little of the luster from Nebraska's strong start today that included earlier commitments from safety Corey Cooper and quarterback Brion Carnes.

But Odighizuwa would have been the Cornhuskers' biggest recruit. And not getting him hurts Bo Pelini and his program.

Cornhuskers nab second big commitment of day with S Corey Cooper

February, 3, 2010
Bo Pelini nabbed his second big recruiting commitment of the morning when touted four-star safety Corey Cooper of Maywood, Ill., accepted Nebraska's scholarship offer.

Cooper chose the Cornhuskers over Notre Dame, Arizona and Illinois.

Cooper, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, played wide receiver as well as defensive back in high school, but he is committed to playing defense for the Cornhuskers.

“When I visited there and talked with the coaches, I just felt comfortable,” Cooper told the Lincoln Journal Star. "I feel I can go in there and contribute."

With the loss of starters Larry Asante and Matt O'Hanlon, the Cornhuskers need safeties. Cooper might be good enough to contribute immediately.

His decision came on the heels of Brion Carnes' commitment to the Cornhuskers earlier on Wednesday.

It's been a good day for the Cornhuskers with an announcement set early this afternoon with Owamagbe Odighizuwa. If they can get him it would be an unprecedented late recruiting hat trick by Pelini and his staff.

Carnes changes course, opts for Huskers

February, 3, 2010
Touted quarterback Brion Carnes made a last-minute switch Wednesday morning when he committed to Nebraska.

Carnes, a product of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., had been committed to Western Kentucky since a weekend recruiting visit.

Emotions were pulling Carnes in different directions. New Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert had formerly been a quarterback at Manatee High School earlier in his career. But Carnes is a second cousin of legendary Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier.

But Bo Pelini's late push and the Cornhuskers' recent on-the-field improvement were the biggest selling points for Carnes.

"Just the atmosphere," Carnes told the Lincoln Journal Star. "Just the fact this is Nebraska. My goals and dreams are to push for a BCS national championship, try to contend for a Heisman Trophy. I feel I can do that at Nebraska."

Those are some lofty goals, considering that Carnes likely will be battling for playing time with sophomore-to-be Cody Green, among others. But it's still a big get for the Cornhuskers, with several more key recruits announcing their choices later in the day.
It's cold and wet here in San Antonio today. Just a nasty day.

Perfect weather for some lunchtime links, if you ask me.

Enjoy them.

With National Signing Day 36 hours away and counting, you can understand that news is flying around pretty heavily during the final stages of the recruiting process.

That's why Tom Luginbill's daily updates are so vital to all of us.

Here are some late afternoon Big 12-related recruiting nuggets provided by the esteemed the national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc.

And for up-to-the-minute recruiting information, always look at's On the Trail, which legitimately is one of the highlights of our Insider benefits.

Especially this time of year.

QB Brion Carnes

Bradenton, FL

Manatee H.S.

Scouts Grade: 77

Position Rank: 39

Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) three-star quarterback Brion Carnes, who had his Class of 2010 offer withdrawn on Friday by South Florida, and has now committed to Western Kentucky, according to a report in his hometown newspaper.

But the Omaha World-Herald reported late Sunday that Carnes is saying he is not committed to the Hilltoppers and will announce his decision on National Signing Day.

Carnes had taken an official trip to Nebraska last week and reportedly pledged to the Hilltoppers during a visit this weekend -- a decision that Carnes disputed late Sunday.

Carnes, who committed to USF last summer, is a cousin with former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier and WKU head coach Willie Taggart was a standout player at Manatee. The late visits didn't sit well with new head coach Skip Holtz of the Bulls..

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan called USF's actions "classless" in the Bradenton Herald, and added "USF is no longer welcome at our school."

Carnes threw for 2,245 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior in helping of the Hurricanes go 13-2.

The Bulls are now recruiting LaGrange, Ga., athlete/quarterback Jamius Gunsby, who has offers from Florida and Kentucky. The three-star 6-foot-5, 220-pound Gunsby may commit to USF during his visit this weekend.

DE Mike Jones

Sugar Land, TX

Kempner H.S.

Scouts Grade: 40

Texas Tech has added a defensive lineman to its recruiting Class of 2010 with the offer to Mike Jones of Kempner (Sugar Land, Texas).

Jones (6-foot-3, 255-pounds) also considered Boise State and Louisiana-Lafayette.

RB Justin Torres

La Mirada, CA

La Mirada H.S.

Scouts Grade: 40

Justin Torres, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound running back from La Mirada, Calif., has pledged to Colorado for the Class of 2010.

Torres rushed for 827 yards and 16 touchdowns on 104 carries, and also caught 23 passes for 318 yards and two scores as a senior. He was named CIF Co-Offensive Player of the Year and the Suburban League Most Valuable Player in 2009.

CB Tony Grimes

Hollywood, FL

Hollywood Hills H.S.

Scouts Grade: 80

Position Rank: 16

Highly-coveted senior Tony Grimes (Hollywood, Fla./Hills) has committed to Mississippi over Michigan and Maryland, ESPN affiliate reports.

"I had two good trips to Michigan and Maryland there's just something about Ole Miss that stuck with me. I like the other schools but I think Ole Miss beats them out and that's where I belong," he said.

West Virginia, Oregon, Ohio State, South Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas Tech, Iowa, Miami-FL, Purdue and Wisconsin among others also recruited the 6-foot, 170-pound player.

Mailbag: Pelini is my post-bowl Big 12 Coach of Year

January, 29, 2010
Happy Friday afternoon.

I wouldn’t think of jumping into the weekend without answering some of my better letters from this past week.

So here I go.

Steve Russell of Loveland, Colo., writes: Tim, quick question for you. If you were picking a conference coach of the year including the bowl games, who would you select?

Tim Griffin: After the regular season and conference championship game, I picked Mack Brown because of his 13-0 record. But including the bowl results, I would lean to Bo Pelini, with Brown closely followed by Paul Rhoads of Iowa State.

I think Pelini was able to get a lot out of a team that struggled offensively for much of the season. The Cornhuskers had one of the most imposing defenses in recent Big 12 history with Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, Prince Amukamara, Larry Asante, Phillip Dillard and Co. They had a 10-4 record, but the Cornhuskers were very close to a couple of more wins. With a fortunate break or two, the Cornhuskers could have ended up winning the Iowa State and Virginia Tech games during the regular season and the Big 12 championship game. They came legitimately close to a 13-1 record this season. Pelini deserves much of the credit for getting them into the championship game and for their victory over Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.

And as far as Rhoads, I think he did a masterful job with his team. The fact he was able to go to Nebraska and beat the Cornhuskers while starting a backup quarterback and running back while Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson were out of the lineup was one of the biggest upsets in the nation this past season. Capping the season with an Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota and finishing with a winning record completed a strong first season for the Cyclones.

Caleb from the Foothills of Colorado writes: Tim, I saw in your last mailbag that you weren't certain Colorado was nailed down as a conference member. Can you please elaborate on where you think they might be going and why? I can't see them in any other conference that makes geographical sense except the Mountain West and while the Buffs have been (sometimes painfully) bad for a few years now I don't think they deserve being relegated to the MWC.

Tim Griffin: Caleb, I was speaking from a gut feeling I have about Colorado in comparison with the rest of the conference. The Buffaloes program is nowhere near its level in football in the 1990s or even in the early stages of the Big 12. They obviously need a shot of enthusiasm. The report of the $50 million donation from boosters might produce that, but they clearly need a boost of some kind to jump into competition with schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

I’ve always wondered if Colorado might be a better fit in the Pac-10 if that conference ever chose to expand. New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is said to be considering that. Maybe the Buffaloes might be a team he would look at.

And I’ve often thought that if the Mountain West ever got an automatic berth into the BCS if Colorado would be more competitive in that conference. Playing against schools like Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and BYU would make geographic sense. But I don’t know if it would be palatable to Colorado fans after playing Big Eight and Big 12 opponents for all of these seasons.

My point was that if the Big 12 becomes serious about making the jump into Utah by adding either BYU or Utah at some point, they need to be sure that Colorado is on board for the duration. The move that direction doesn’t make much sense if the Buffaloes aren't committed.

Roger Stringfellow of Katy, Texas, writes: Tim, I read your post earlier today about Dat Nguyen returning to Texas A&M. What do you are his legitimate chances of returning to Aggieland? And do you think that Mike Sherman is smart enough to make this hire?

Tim Griffin: I think that Dat Nguyen would bring cache to Sherman’s coaching staff unlike many hires he could make. Nguyen legitimately is the most decorated Aggie football player of the last 40 years.

But you have to remember that Sherman is facing huge pressure after going 10-15 in his first two seasons at A&M. Hiring Tim DeRuyter from Air Force was a bold, popular move among most A&M fans. But I’m wondering if DeRuyter and Sherman believe they can gamble on a new coach with little true coaching experience and none in college football by hiring Nguyen.

To me, the hiring is a no-brainer. Getting Nguyen back in the program would be huge for Sherman and his staff. But if they believe they only have a one- or two-season window to turn things around, I can understand why they might opt for a new defensive coach with more experience.

Michael Hengel of Pine Bluff, Ark., writes: Hey, Tim, thank you for the nice column on Freddie Steinmark. Seeing his name in the headline of your piece brought back a flood of memories -- even before reading the feature, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I confess that I had not thought about his great story in years. What an inspiration.

Tim Griffin: Michael, thanks to you and everybody else who wrote to me to comment on my piece on what would have been Steinmark’s 61st birthday earlier this week. He’s still an iconic figure in Texas football history. But his story needs to be shared with more people who might have forgotten about him, or never heard of his inspiring life.

David Macrander of Omaha, Neb., writes: Tim, What do you think the chances are of all three of the major recruits Nebraska is after end up signing with them on signing day? If not all of them, how many (if any) do you think will sign with the Huskers?

Tim Griffin: Out of the three players remaining, I’ll rank the chances of them coming like this. I think the Cornhuskers’ best hopes come with attracting Owamagbe Odighizuwa because of their success with Ndamukong Suh. Odighizuwa saw what Bo Pelini’s staff did with another raw but talented defensive line prospect from Oregon in Suh. I’ve heard that really resonates with him. After that, I think their chances are next best with Corey Cooper, who likely sees that the Cornhuskers need immediate help at safety and likely could use him in the 2010 season if he develops quickly.

Quarterback Brion Carnes obviously has some family history with the Cornhuskers, considering he’s the cousin of legendary Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier. But I’m wondering if Jamal Turner’s announcement last night that he’s coming in the Class of 2011 will have any effect. Also, I know that Carnes is close with Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert, who is a former quarterback at Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., where Carnes played.

So I’d rank Odighizuwa first, Cooper second and Carnes third in terms of their chances at arriving at Nebraska. Getting one player from that group would be a big late surge for Pelini. Two would be huge and a hat trick of all three players might be beyond even his most optimistic hopes. It will be interesting to see how many late recruiting commitments the Cornhuskers will get.

Thanks again for all of the good questions this week. Enjoy the Senior Bowl and I’ll check back with you again next week with another batch.