The acceptance of Damore'ea Stringfellow at Nebraska presents more evidence that coach Bo Pelini and the Huskers are willing to take new risks in their attempt to construct a championship-caliber program.
Stringfellow, a 6-foot-3, 229-pound receiver, said on Saturday that he’s transferring from Washington to Nebraska. In 2013, Stringfellow was ranked the nation’s No. 51 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the fourth-best recruit in California out of Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley.
The circumstances of Stringfellow’s transfer also look a bit familiar in Lincoln.
He pleaded guilty in April to three misdemeanors related to a post-Super Bowl altercation with two Seahawks fans in Seattle on Feb. 2. Stringfellow and Washington quarterback Cyler Miles were suspended by UW coach Chris Petersen. Miles was later reinstated.
Stringfellow was ordered to pay a fine, serve on a work crew and attend anger-management counseling.
A year ago at this time, Nebraska coaches contemplated the transfer of offensive lineman Alex Lewis. Lewis, days after settling his move from Colorado to Nebraska, was arrested for his role in a fight in Boulder, Colorado, that left an Air Force cadet unconscious.
Lewis pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. Nebraska allowed his transfer but denied Lewis access to the team last fall. He joined the program as a walk-on in January and performed well in spring practice, earning the inside track to start at left tackle after he serves a 45-day jail sentence in Colorado this summer.
Will Stringfellow, recruited by the likes of USC, Ohio State and Michigan out of high school, face similar parameters in Lincoln?
Has Pelini compromised the standards of Nebraska football, which has prided itself under the seventh-year coach for running a clean program as others nationally appear to run amok?
The answer to both questions, likely, is no.
Stringfellow’s situation differs from the case of Lewis in that the receiver faced his punishment from the court before Nebraska pursued him as a transfer.
Expect the Huskers to keep him under watch but close to the team and a part of practices this fall as he sits out to satisfy transfer rules. In 2015, Nebraska must replace prolific receiver Kenny Bell. Stringfellow gives the Huskers a legitimate option to step in and compete against the best in the Big Ten.
Stringfellow caught eight passes for 147 yards and a touchdown on Nov. 15 in Washington’s 41-31 loss to UCLA.
The Huskers see his potential. He possesses the talent in a receiver rarely recruited at Nebraska. Stringfellow visited Lincoln as a high school senior, along with USC and Washington.
Upon news of his decision this weekend, several Nebraska coaches rejoiced on Twitter, offering thinly veiled references to the big-bodied wideout. Nebraska already knew plenty about Stringfellow and researched him additionally in recent weeks.
As for Pelini, his standards remain in place.
The Huskers value character as much as two years ago -- before Lewis and Stringfellow, before defensive end Avery Moss was banned from campus for a year in relation to a 2012 public-indecency charge, before linebacker Josh Banderas entered a diversion program last month for his role in the theft of seven bicycles from a campus rack. The charge was later dismissed.
Since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011, recruiting competition has intensified. Ask anyone who encountered James Franklin’s Penn State staff on the trail this spring.
Urban Meyer, of course, has raised the stakes.
Nebraska must continue to take risks to improve its standing in the conference hierarchy. Or even to keep pace.
A fine line exists, but the Huskers can navigate it -- with informed decisions like the Stringfellow case -- and maintain the integrity Pelini and Nebraskans so value in their program.