Saturday, January 03, 2009

YPPSYS NFL Pro Football Pre-Playoff Rankings and Playoff Predictions (2008/2009 Season) based on NAYPPA Statistics

YPPSYS NFL Pro Football Pre-Playoff Rankings and Predictions (2008/2009 Season) based on NAYPPA Statistics (Net Average Yards Per Play Advantage)

YPPSYS POST-SEASON PRE-PLAYOFF NFL PRO FOOTBALL RATINGS and RANKINGS
(* = Division Champion. The Rating is determined by taking the NAYPPA - net average yards per play advantage, subtracting .2 for each loss and .1 for each tie, subtracting .1 if the total defense is 5.0 yards per play or worse, subtracting .2 if the total defense is 5.5 yards per play or worse, subtracting .3 if the total defense is 6.0 yards per play or worse, etc., adding .1 if the total defense is 4.5 yards per play or better, adding .2 if the total defense is 4.0 per play of better, etc., and assuming a general parity of schedules. Turnover Ratio, Field Goal and TD stats are also given for orientation, but are not included in the rating since they are difficult to quantify. For example, a team making a lot of field goals may actually be a negative statistic since it indicates an inability to put the ball into the end zone when a team is in or close to the red zone. A team with a lot of field goals against it may be positive if it indicates a stout defense that keeps the opponents from making touchdowns. Turnover ratio, surprisingly, also does not necessarily mesh with a good won-loss record.

One rating point = 9 points on the scoreboard, so that .1 rating point = .9 points on the scoreboard. In other words, all other things being equal, the Steelers are .4 rating points better than Tennessee, the team rated 2nd, or .7 x 4 = 2.8 points on the scoreboard, or 5.5 rating points better than the Detroit Lions, or 5.5 x9 = 49.5 points on the scoreboard. Of course, in any given game, a single turnover disadvantage, for example, can easily give another team the victory, as recently happened in the Tennessee win over Pittsburgh, as the top pro teams are not far apart in ability. Home field advantage also plays a significant role.)


It is interesting to see that our rank of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Number One agrees with the Sagarin NFL ratings and the Massey Ratings, which are based on completely different stats. If all other things in a game are equal (e.g. turnovers) the Steelers should win. If not, any of the playoff teams could be Super Bowl champions this year - the stats are that close. The top seven teams are separated by only one TD rating difference, not counting home field advantage. It might be a Cinderella year.

1. *(12-4-0) Pittsburgh Steelers - Rating: +0.4
4.9 yards per play - Opponents 3.9 yards per play - NAYPPA = 1.0
3.7 ypp to 3.3 ypp rushing, 7.1 ypp to 5.4 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +4
Field Goals 27/31 - Opponents 24/27
TDs 38 - Opponents 21

2. * (13-3-0) Tennessee Titans - Rating: 0.0
5.2 yards per play - Opponents 4.6 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.6
4.3 ypp to 3.7 ypp rushing, 6.4 ypp to 6.0 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +14
Field Goals 29/33 - Opponents 20/30
TDs 41 - Opponents 25

3. *(12-4-0) Carolina Panthers - Rating: -0.1
6.0 yards per play - Opponents 5.2 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.8
4.8 ypp to 4.4 ypp rushing, 7.9 ypp to 6.5 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +6
Field Goals 28/31 - Opponents 24/28
TDs 47 - Opponents 37

4. * (12-4-0) New York Giants - Rating: -0.3
5.6 yards per play - Opponents 5.0 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.6
5.0 ypp to 4.0 ypp rushing, 6.8 ypp to 6.8 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +9
Field Goals 36/39 - Opponents 19/26
TDs 45 - Opponents 34

5. (9-6-1) Philadelphia Eagles - Rating: -0.3
5.3 yards per play - Opponents 4.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.9
4.0 ypp to 3.5 ypp rushing, 6.7 ypp to 6.1 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +3
Field Goals 33/40 - Opponents 24/28
TDs 45 - Opponents 31

6. (12-4-0) Indianapolis Colts - Rating: -0.5
5.5 yards per play - Opponents 5.1 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.4
3.4 ypp to 4.2 ypp rushing, 7.1 ypp to 6.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +9
Field Goals 20/25 - Opponents 33/38
TDs 45 - Opponents 28

7. (11-5-0) Baltimore Ravens - Rating: -0.5
4.9 yards per play - Opponents 4.5 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.4
4.0 ypp to 3.6 ypp rushing, 7.1 ypp to 5.9 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +13
Field Goals 28/35 - Opponents 21/22
TDs 42 - Opponents 26

8. (9-7-0) Dallas Cowboys - Rating: -0.7
5.6 yards per play - Opponents 4.9 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.7
4.3 ypp to 4.2 ypp rushing, 7.3 ypp to 6.6 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -11
Field Goals 20/22 - Opponents 38/44
TDs 43 - Opponents 36

9. *(11-5-0) Miami Dolphins - Rating: -0.8
5.7 yards per play - Opponents 5.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.3
4.2 ypp to 4.2 ypp rushing, 7.7 ypp to 7.0 ypp
Turnover Ratio +17
Field Goals 21/25 - Opponents 29/32
TDs 40 - Opponents 33

10. (8-8-0) New Orleans Saints - Rating: -0.8
6.3 yards per play - Opponents 5.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.9
4.0 ypp to 4.2 ypp rushing, 8.0 ypp to 7.0 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -4
Field Goals 22/27 - Opponents 34/39
TDs 57 - Opponents 41

11. *(10-6-0) Minnesota Vikings - Rating: -0.9
5.2 yards per play - Opponents 4.9 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.3
4.5 ypp to 3.3 ypp rushing, 7.1 ypp to 7.1 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -6
Field Goals 29/34 - Opponents 26/36
TDs 41 - Opponents 36

12. *(9-7-0) Arizona Cardinals - Rating: -0.9
5.9 yards per play - Opponents 5.3 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.6
3.5 ypp to 4.0 ypp rushing, 7.7 ypp to 7.2 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio 0
Field Goals 25/28 - Opponents 21/27
TDs 51 - Opponents 52

13. (11-5-0) Atlanta Falcons - Rating: -1.1
5.7 yards per play - Opponents 5.6 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.1
4.4 ypp to 4.9 ypp rushing, 7.9 ypp to 6.9 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -3
Field Goals 29/31 - Opponents 20/25
TDs 43 - Opponents 38

14. *(8-8-0) San Diego Chargers - Rating: -1.1
6.0 yards per play - Opponents 5.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.6
4.1 ypp to 4.0 ypp rushing, 8.4 ypp to 6.8 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +4
Field Goals 27/32 - Opponents 24/31
TDs 51 - Opponents 39

15. (11-5-0) New England Patriots - Rating: -1.2
5.3 yards per play - Opponents 5.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.1
4.4 ypp to 4.1 ypp rushing, 7.1 ypp to 7.3 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +1
Field Goals 36/40 - Opponents 17/21
TDs 43 - Opponents 37

16. (9-7-0) New York Jets - Rating: -1.3
5.4 yards per play - Opponents 5.2 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.2
4.7 ypp to 3.7 ypp rushing, 6.6 ypp to 7.0 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -1
Field Goals 24/29 - Opponents 25/28
TDs 48 - Opponents 40

17. (9-7-0-) Chicago Bears - Rating: -1.4
4.8 yards per play - Opponents 4.9 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.1
4.8 ypp to 4.9 ypp rushing, 6.1 ypp to 6.6 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +5
Field Goals 26/29 - Opponents 26/33
TDs 42 - Opponents 39

18. (9-7-0) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Rating: -1.5
5.2 yards per play - Opponents 5.2 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.0
4.1 ypp to 4.3 ypp rushing, 6.7 ypp to 6.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +4
Field Goals 32/38 - Opponents 28/30
TDs 38 - Opponents 34

19. (8-8-0) Houston Texans - Rating: -1.5
6.0 yards per play - Opponents 5.8 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.2
4.3 ypp to 4.5 ypp rushing, 8.1 ypp to 7.6 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -10
Field Goals 29/33 - Opponents 25/29
TDs 40 - Opponents 45

20. (8-8-0) Denver Broncos - Rating: -1.7
6.2 yards per play - Opponents 6.1 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.1
4.8 ypp to 5.0 ypp rushing, 7.3 ypp to 7.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -17
Field Goals 25/34 - Opponents 32/35
TDs 42 - Opponents 50

21. (8-8-0) Washington Redskins - Rating: -1.7
5.0 yards per play - Opponents 5.0 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.0
4.4 ypp to 3.8 ypp rushing, 6.5 ypp to 6.3 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio 0
Field Goals 26/36 - Opponents 24/28
TDs 27 - Opponents 32

22. (7-9-0) San Francisco 49ers - Rating: -1.8
5.2 yards per play - Opponents 5.1 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.1
4.0 ypp to 3.8 ypp rushing, 7.3 ypp to 6.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -17
Field Goals 29-33 - Opponents 35-42
TDs 36 - Opponents 39

23. (6-10-0) Green Bay Packers - Rating: -1.8
5.6 yards per play - Opponents 5.3 yards per play - NAYPPA = 0.3
4.1 ypp to 4.6 ypp rushing, 7.5 ypp to 6.5 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +7
Field Goals 27/34 - Opponents 25/30
TDs 48 - Opponents 43

24. (7-9-0) Buffalo Bills - Rating: -2.2
5.1 yards per play - Opponents 5.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.3
4.2 ypp to 4.3 ypp rushing, 6.9 ypp to 7.0 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -8
Field Goals 30/38 - Opponents 34/41
TDs 35 - Opponents 34

25. (5-11-0) Jacksonville Jaguars - Rating: -3.0
5.1 yards per play - Opponents 5.7 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.6
4.2 ypp to 4.0 ypp rushing, 6.7 ypp to 8.1 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -7
Field Goals 19/25 - Opponents 27/30
TDs 35 - Opponents 41

26. (5-11-0) Oakland Raiders - Rating: -3.2
4.7 yards per play - Opponents 5.5 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.8
4.3 ypp to 4.7 ypp rushing, 6.3 ypp to 7.2 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +1
Field Goals 24/30 - Opponents 23/31
TDs 27 - Opponents 45

27. (4-11-1) Cincinnati Bengals - Rating: -3.5
4.0 yards per play - Opponents 5.1 yards per play - NAYPPA = -1.1
4.0 ypp to 5.1 ypp rushing, 5.2 ypp to 6.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -2
Field Goals 22/25 - Opponents 22/23
TDs 20 - Opponents 43

28. (4-12-0) Seattle Seahawks - Rating: -3.6
4.7 yards per play - Opponents 5.7 yards per play - NAYPPA = -1.0
4.2 ypp to 4.2 ypp rushing, 6.0 ypp to 7.7 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -7
Field Goals 24/27 - Opponents 37/41
TDs 32 - Opponents 40

29. (2-14-0) Kansas City Chiefs - Rating: -3.9
5.2 yards per play - Opponents 6.0 yards per play - NAYPPA = -0.8
4.8 ypp to 5.0 ypp rushing, 6.2 ypp to 7.3 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +5
Field Goals 16/22 - Opponents 33/36
TDs 35 - Opponents 49

30. (4-12-0) Cleveland Browns - Rating: -4.4
4.3 yards per play - Opponents 5.7 yards per play - NAYPPA = -1.4
3.9 ypp to 4.5 ypp rushing, 5.2 ypp to 7.5 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio +5
Field Goals 30/36 - Opponents 19/28
TDs 20 - Opponents 42

31. (2-14-0) St. Louis Rams - Rating: -4.5
4.7 yards per play - Opponents 6.1 yards per play - NAYPPA = -1.4
4.0 ypp to 4.9 ypp rushing, 6.3 ypp to 8.3 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -5
Field Goals 31/36 - Opponents 31/32
TDs 20 - Opponents 53

32. (0-16-0) Detroit Lions - Rating: -5.1
4.7 yards per play - Opponents 6.4 yards per play - NAYPPA = -1.7
3.8 ypp to 5.1 ypp rushing, 6.5 ypp to 8.8 ypp passing
Turnover Ratio -9
Field Goals 21/22 - Opponents 25/29
TDs 29 - Opponents 63

YPPSYS NFL PRO FOOTBALL 2008/2009 SEASON PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers - By pure NAYPPA, the Chargers are .2 rating points better than the Colts = 1.8 points (.2 x 9) on the scoreboard, but adjusted for won-loss record, the Colts are .6 rating points x 9 = 5.4 points on the scoreboard better. The Sagarin ratings tell us that the home field advantage is 3 points, subtracted from the 5.4 points makes the Colts favorites by a paper-thin margin of 2.4 scoreboard points
Our call: Indianapolis 27 San Diego 24 UPDATE: Indianapolis blew the game in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter, as the Chargers won in overtime 23-17 after making a field goal to tie the game in regulation in the last 31 seconds. Basically, the loss of the game was perhaps a coaching error, as it might have been smarter for the Colts to take a safety with a 4th down at their own one-yard line with 1:48 to play, which would have made the score 17-16 in their favor, and then they could have kicked the ball longer on the kickoff. As it was, the necessarily overly long punt was returned 26 yards by Darren Sproles and the Chargers were afterwards in good field position to move toward the tying field goal with the ball on the Colts 38-yard line and more than a minute and a half to play.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins - By pure NAYPPA, the Ravens have a .1 rating point advantage x 9 =.9 points on the scoreboard. Adjusted for wins and losses, the Ravens have a .3 x 9 = 2.7 scoreboard points advantage, minus the Dolphins home field advantage of 3 points = -.3 scoreboard points. On our card, this game is thus as good as dead even. We favor the Ravens by 1 point because of their better defense.
Our call: Baltimore 21 Miami 20 UPDATE: Baltimore won handily 27-9, intercepting 4 passes and recovering one fumble.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings - By pure NAYPPA, the Eagles have a .6 rating points x 9 = 5.4 point scoreboard advantage, and that same margin exists when adjusted for wins and losses. Subtracting the Vikings home field advantage makes the Eagles 2.4 point favorites.
Our call: Philadelphia 20 Minnesota 17 UPDATE: The Eagles won 26-14 as Adrian Peterson's 83 yards rushing and 2 TDs were not enough to overcome a solid performance by quarterback Donovan McNabb plus 4 field goals by David Akers from 43, 51, 31 and 45 yards, which proved to be the difference in the score.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals - By pure NAYPPA, the Cardinals have a .5 rating points x 9 = 4.5 point scoreboard advantage, but adjusted for wins and losses, the Cardinals have only a .2 rating point advantage x 9 = 1.8 scoreboard points. Since Arizona has the home field advantage, this makes the Cardinals a 1 point favorite on our card.
Our call: Arizona 31 Atlanta 30 UPDATE: In spite of nice weather outside, the Cardinals kept the roof closed at University of Phoenix Stadium, which greatly amplifies crowd noise, to the benefit of the home team, and Arizona won 30-24.

2009 Husker Recruits are Top : University of Nebraska Cornhusker Football Recruitment Commits are the Kind of Players that Make Winning Football Teams

Update on Husker recruiting, January 9, 2009, via the Lincoln, Nebraska JournalStar HuskerExtra.com blog Life In The Red by Brian Christopherson, who indicates that:

1) Wide receiver Antonio Bell from last year's class appears to have made the academic marks necessary to join the team next season,
2) Linebacker Earnest Norman may not have the academic marks necessary to play next season, and
3) Defensive End Kevin Young has decommitted Nebraska and recommitted to Kansas, which he decommitted previously, apparently to be closer to home and because NU were still recruiting DEs (and have a commit from top DE Jason Ankrah).

Update, January 10, 2009: The LawPundit, Andis Kaulns, ranked first in the Big Red group at Yahoo! Sports College Bowl Pick'em in predicting the winners of the college football bowl games 2008/2009.
__________

In spite of the Nebraska Cornhuskers 9-4 record in the 2008 / 2009 football season, the SI.com team of 2008 College Football All-Americans does not include a single Husker, not even in the honorable mentions, which go up to 15-deep at each position, including the 1st two teams. Not only better coaching (especially more intelligent offensive playcalling), but also better recruiting at Nebraska is required as an absolute top priority for an improved Husker team in the future. Especially the defensive secondary needs a quick boost, as the Huskers ranked 91st in the nation in pass defense this season.

Although Scout.com currently ranks the Nebraska Cornhusker football recruiting class of 2009 as only 20th in the nation (Rivals.com ranks the NU class 22nd), things are in fact looking up in Huskerland, in spite of our original opinion that this recruiting class was nothing worth crowing about. We have changed our mind after viewing the actual stats of the recruited players. The Huskers are in fact once again attracting the types of winning players who make up championship teams, and the more one looks at the "fast" 2009 recruiting class - lack of speed has been an issue for Nebraska players in recent years - the more one sees that this class has the potential to be outstanding.

Although the star rankings of the recruitment services are by no means infallible, they do give a good idea about the general state of a team's recruiting efforts. For example, the Huskers lead the nation in the number of 3-star commitments - 17 (tied with Mississippi). These are the players who make up the core of any football team.

What is the difference between 3, 4 and 5 star recruits? Not much in most cases, and sometimes recruits are simply falsely rated. How anyone can rank 2009 USC recruit Hebron Fangupo or 2009 Nebraska recruit Cody Green at anything less than 5 stars is hard to follow, but Rivals.com managed - inexplicably - to do just that, so that the star-ratings of the recruitment ranking services must be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

Cody Green's season totals for 2009 were 230 completions of 351 passes for 3265 yards, 35 TDs with 4 interceptions, plus 220 rushes for 1610 yards and 25 TDs, to which compare the nation's allegedly number one 5-star QB at Rivals.com, Russell Shepard, whose comparable stats for 2009 were 115 of 211 completions for 1849 yards, 18 TDs with 4 interceptions, plus 257 rushes for 1947 yards and 29 TDs. In other words, the Rivals.com ratings have serious problems, especially when one considers the size of these quarterbacks. Cody Green is 6' 4" 220 lbs. whereas Russell Shepard is 6' 2" 195 lbs.

Moreover, The occasional over-emphasis on so-called 5-star and 4-star high school recruits can mask the fact that football is a team game and that each TEAM consists of numerous players, all of whom must work together as a unit at a particular level of competence. Each team needs a star or two on offense and defense to lead the team to success, but it is the core of the team that must prevail. We are thus generally pleased as a Nebraska alumnus to see that the 22 commits to Huskerland thus far include team-oriented players who epitomize the kind of personal inner drive and toughness that championship teams require.

See Scout.com for videos of many of these verbally committed future NU players, but keep in mind that no commits (except JC signings) are official until February, 2009, when high school players can first sign an official "letter of intent", so that some things can still change up to that time - as there are still top players out there who are not yet committed. Specific dates are fixed by the NCAA for these National Letters of Intent, depending on the sport involved. For football, signing dates for Prospective Student-Athletes Enrolling in the 2009-2010 Academic Year are:
- Initial Signing Date for Football (Midyear JC Transfer) December 17, 2008 and Final Signing Date January 15, 2009.
- Initial Signing Date for Football (Regular Period) February 4, 2009 and Final Signing Date April 1, 2009.

The players who have committed to Nebraska show the direction that Husker football is heading - and it is quite clear that the coaching staff is actively recruiting winners. Bleacher Report writes: "This past weekend saw the high school powerhouse states of Texas, California, and Florida crown their champions, and Bo Pelini and the Huskers had a stake in each contest. Although not by design a large portion of this years Husker’s recruiting class are from these states championship teams, it isn’t totally by coincidence either. "We're not targeting guys only from great teams," NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said. "But we put a strong emphasis in our recruiting on character. And it's amazing, when you zero in on character, you're finding kids who are winners and who are winning championships."

On offense the Husker commits are two top-notch double threat quarterbacks (i.e. quarterbacks who can throw the ball and run), two top running backs (one an elusive speedy dynamo, the other a solid, moving force), plus two very strong blocking fullbacks. On defense, the recruiting has landed one superb middle linebacker, two top-notch defensive ends, and five speedy defensive backs, who Nebraska has recruited to counter the passing strength of the high octane spread offenses that dominate the Big 12. The Nebraska defense needs these players as it moves away from the outdated "West Coast Offense" with its unfounded emphasis on ball control and time of possession [the actual object of the offense is to SCORE, regardless of the clock, unless you have a terrible defense that you want OFF the field] and the Huskers will surely be moving toward a Florida-type offense with a dual threat QB who can run and pass.

Through December 12 of this 2008/2009 season, the Huskers ranked 12th nationally in total offense but were a dismal 66th on total defense and 91st on pass defense. When Nebraska commands an equally good defense - and this is very dependent upon greatly improving the secondary - the Huskers will once again be a force to be reckoned with. The descriptive word that we have seen most often to describe the players who have committed to the 2009 recruiting class at Nebraska is "toughness", which in our opinion is a very good sign and suggests a top-notch Husker football team in the making.

DEFENSIVE COMMITS to NEBRASKA

LINEBACKERS


"HIT MAN" CHRIS WILLIAMS (Middle Linebacker), 6-0, 230, 4.52 speed, Texas
See Rivals.com
Already in his junior year, Williams was the Associated Press Sports Editors Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year in Texas, so that his rank at only four stars by Rivals.com is too low. On this video, Williams has been nicknamed the "Hit Man", for the phenomenal speed of his tackling attack. The Middle Linebacker is the center of the defense. Steven M. Sipple at HuskerExtra.com quotes "Jeremy Crabtree, longtime respected recruiting analyst for Rivals.com": "I’ll take Chris Williams and go to battle every single day. He’s the type of kid that if you ask him to run through a wall, he’ll ask you how many walls do you want him to run through.” What’s more, “He has tremendous football instincts.... He’s just a tremendous football player.”"

Brent C. Wagner of the Lincoln Journal Star quotes Williams on choosing NU: "“When a guy like Bo Pelini wants you to come in and be the centerpiece of his defense, it’s something that you just have to think about and consider,” Williams told the Abilene Reporter-News. “It’s something that I’ve thought about and it gives me a good chance to continue to be a Blackshirt.“ Abilene has called its defense the Blackshirts for about 10 years." [Blackshirt link added]

Indeed, if Williams can stay clear of injuries, this player looks to us like a potential future All-America candidate.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

One can argue about the relative importance of the various positions on a football team, but the defensive ends definitely play an important role, especially in college football. Look at TCU's Jerry Hughes, as the Horned Frogs rank No. 1 in the nation this year in rushing defense. A successful defense must have top players at this position. One way to answer the question of the importance of positions is to ask which positions cost a team the most if they have WEAK players at that position. You definitely can not have weak defensive ends or the opposing team will destroy you offensively. The two Nebraska commits at defensive end are both star-studded commits this recruiting year.

JASON ANKRAH (Strongside Defensive End), 6-4 249 4.79 speed, Maryland
The Washington Post put Ankrah on the 1st team of the ALL-MET defensive team with the following description: "Fearsome defensive end made 55 tackles, 14 for loss, and registered 6 1.2 sacks. Also posted 19 quarterback hurries as the Cougars advanced to the Maryland 4A West Region final."
Scout.com writes: "Ankrah played a significant role in leading his team to a perfect 14-0 record and the 4A state championship. Ankrah says he can bench press 305-pounds and squats 485."
See the one-on-one talk video with Jason Ankrah, see also Rivals.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "It is not tough to see why Ankrah garners attention from college coaches. He is a defensive end prospect with good natural size and could develop nicely into a strong-side end at the college level."
Blankman at Corn Nation writes: "Ankrah’s a special talent...."
Samuel McKewon at NE StatePaper.com writes: "Another Big Name Recruit to NU"
Ankrah looks like a future NFL pro to us.

KEVIN YOUNG (Defensive End), 6-4 227 4.78 speed, Kansas
See the 2007 high school video at Youtube.com
Scout.com writes: "Kevin Young is a defensive end that is just starting to come in to his potential. He has a great frame and does a tremendous job of rushing the passer."
ESPN Football Recruiting says: "Young is a prospect who displays good upside as a defensive end. His greatest assets at this time are his frame and his straight line speed."
As written at ESPN Football Recruiting: "Kevin Young of North (Olathe, Kans.) has changed his Class of 2009 commitment from Kansas to Big 12 rival Nebraska. Young, who made a visit to Lincoln, Neb. for the Huskers' win over Colorado, was taken back by the atmosphere, "I didn't expect it to be like that at all. I was just like, 'wow'."

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Defensive backs have to be fast, agile and able to read plays, and they have to be able to bounce back immediately from adversity to concentrate on the next play. Scouts.Inc writes at ESPN: "Aside from quarterbacks, cornerbacks require the most mental toughness of any player on the field." The Huskers have recruited an impressive group of defensive backs.

DEJON GOMES (Cornerback) 6-0, 190, 4.4 speed, California, City College of San Francisco, California, JC
See Rivals.com, Scout.com
Gomes is a proven top-notch defensive back at the JC level (4 interceptions this past season) who has signed a letter of intent at Nebraska. Gomes was the outstanding defensive player of the game when CCSF beat Mt. San Antonio for the 2007 California CC championship, as he interecepted two passes off of "Mt. Sacs" All-America QB Kevin Craft and made six tackles. He is quoted at HuskerExtra.com as saying about his visit to Lincoln, Nebraska and the Nebraska game with Colorado: "“It was one of the nicest facilities I’ve seen at the college level,” Gomes said. ‘The fan base was unbelievable.”"

DIJON WASHINGTON (Safety), 6-0 173 4.5 speed, California
See Rivals.com, Scout.com,
ESPN Football Recruiting writes:
"Washington could run for President because he can do it all. When he isn't on offense or defense, look for him on special teams.... Washington will be a very valuable player for his college team."
ESPN's Bill Conley writes: "Washington is arguably one of the very best commits for Bo Pelini and staff.... Dijon can definitely cut the mustard at Nebraska. He is hits like a freight train to derail the ball carrier. He absolutely explodes on contact and drives his legs till the opponent is on the ground. As good as he is on run support and when blitzing, he is also an excellent pass defender. Washington does a good job of reading the quarterbacks eyes and gets a quick break on the football. As good as he is on defense; Washington should also excel on special teams on coverage and block units."

DeANDRE BYRD
(Cornerback), 5-10 170 4.5 speed, Florida
See Rivals.com
Scout.com writes: "Talented cornerback prospect who finished his junior season with 40 tackles, 9 pass breakups, four interceptions, and one defensive touchdown."
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Byrd is an impressive cornerback prospect...."
HuskerExtra.com writes: "[T]hrough the recruiting process, Byrd kept thinking about how much he liked Bo Pelini when he had met him last year as a defensive coordinator at LSU.
“He’s a great coach. He treated me like the coaches treat me down here,” Byrd said. “That was what made me make my decision.”"

ANDREW GREEN (Safety, Defensive Back), 6-0 185 4.5 speed, Texas
See the YouTube video and Rivals.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Overall, we like what Green brings to the table as corner and he possesses all the physical tools needed to develop into a quality starter at the next level."
Football Recruiting News quotes Green: “I like the academics at Nebraska and the facilities. I’m not sure if I will play early, go down there and compete and see what happens.... Nebraska coaches like me because I’m physical I’m pretty quick and fast for my size.”

LAZZARI MIDDLETON (Cornerback), 6-1 190 4.48 speed, California
See Scout.com,
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Middleton is a good-looking underneath corner with great zone skills." Middleton is quoted at HuskerExtra.com: "“I always wanted to be in the Big 12 and play against the kind of talent they have at quarterback and receiver.”

DEFENSIVE LINE


THADDEUS RANDLE (DEFENSIVE TACKLE), Texas
See Rivals.com,
ESPN Football Recruiting calls Randle "a solid and productive defensive tackle."
Jason Siffring at Bleacher Reports writes: "I like what I am hearing about Randle. He plays with a high level of effort and intensity. And, he apparently displays good fundamental skills for a high school player (good leverage, hand placement, etc). Finally, he comes from a winning program in a football crazy state. Fans should always welcome a football team full of kids who are used to winning."

OFFENSIVE COMMITS TO NEBRASKA

QUARTERBACKS

You have to have quarterbacks that can run your offense well and you need more than one, so that potential injuries to one QB do not sink a season. Nebraska has two top commits for the QB position.

CODY GREEN (Quarterback), Texas
See ESPN Football Recruiting, Scout.com and Rivals.com
Green is both a passing and running QB.
Darren K. Carlson writes in Talent At the Top at the Big Red Network: "[T]he kid is a winner."
Blankman at Corn Nation writes: "A dual-threat from under center...."
Rivals ranks QB Russell Shepard (who has committed to LSU) as the top player in this entire recruiting year, but in fact, as noted at HuskerBoard.com by Landlord of Memorial Stadium, Cody Green has the better overall stats: "Through 15 games, Cody has completed 197 of 303 passing attempts (65%) for 2,749 yards and 29 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. He has also rushed 182 times for 1446 yards (7.94 ypc) and 27 touchdowns on the ground. Total yardage is 4,195 yards and 56 total touchdowns. Russell Shepard has 1946 rushing yards with 28 touchdowns, and 1843 passing with 20 touchdowns against 4 interceptions."

TAYLOR MARTINEZ (Quarterback), California
See Huskers Illustrated, ESPN Football Recruiting, Rivals.com
This year, Martinez led his Corona Centennial high school team to the Division I Championship in California. Scout.com writes:
"One of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state of California...."
His 2008 season totals, not including the final California championship high school bowl game, were 166 of 283 pass completions (58.7%) for 2751 yards, with 28 TDs and 7 interceptions. He also rushed for 703 yards and 11 TDs on 91 carries for an average net gain of 7.73 per play.

RUNNING BACKS

Nebraska has commits from superb running backs out of Texas and fullbacks out of Pennsylvania and Nebraska:

REX BURKHEAD (Running Back and Wide Receiver), Texas
Here, for example, is a video clip of running back Rex Burkhead of Plano, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), who has verbally commited to Nebraska. As Blankman writes at Corn Nation, Huskers Snag Second Texas Stud: Rex Burkhead is N:



As written at ESPN Football Recruiting: Rex Burkhead "has an overachiever element to him".

DONTRAYEVOUS ROBINSON (Running Back), Texas
See Rivals.com, Scout.com,
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Robinson is not overly flashy but he is a productive downhill runner who has the physical tools and body structure to develop into a workhorse back at the college level."
Blankman at Corn Nation writes: "Robinson has many solid qualities such as size, strength and speed...."
Angel Verdejo writes at the Star-Telegram.com: "Committed to Nebraska, Dontrayevous Robinson, has the speed, size and power to excel at the next level. He’s also shown his maturity this season [at Euless Trinity], moving to fullback and blocking for [Tevin] Williams."

FULLBACKS


SHAWN BODTMANN (Fullback), Pennsylvania
See Scout.com,
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Bodtmann is a great athlete.... Overall, Bodtmann brings good potential size, speed, athleticism and toughness to the table as a prospect. Great versatility to help on both sides of the ball and a kid who should shine on special teams. Good football player."

C. J. ZIMMERER (Fullback), Nebraska
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Zimmer has a great blend of toughness and quickness playing both sides of the football.... As a fullback ... a very solid blocker...."

RECEIVERS

BRANDON KINNIE (Wide Receiver), Missouri, Fort Scott Community College (Kansas), JC
A 6'3" 218 pound wide receiver that runs a 4.37 40? and catches every ball thrown in his direction? It is not clear, however, whether this commit is very solid, and such vacillating players in our opinion may not have the right kind of motivation or attitude to fit in well with a young developing team filled with highly motivated and loyal players.
See Scout.com 2008.
Scout.com wrote about the All-American Iowa City Combine 2006: "Brandon Kinnie was an unknown prospect at the combine that more than proved he is a division one wide receiver prospect. Kinnie beat some defensive backs, badly, and others he still found a way. He caught every ball thrown in the area, and drew raves from all the opposing defenders he went up against."

Kinnie is part of a trio of Fort Scott Community College JUCO players recruited by Nebraska, including also defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Jacquain Williams.

J.T. KERR (Tight End), California
See Rivals.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Kerr is a big and physical tight end prospect.... Kerr is a tough kid. He will earn his keep as a blocker and can contribute some as a receiver at the college level."

OFFENSIVE LINE


The Offensive Line can make - or break - the offense.

COLE PENSICK (CENTER), Nebraska
See ESPN Football Recruiting
Pensick was the first commit of the 2009 recruiting class, and, as written at Scout.com, "Barney Cotton [the Husker's Offensive Line Coach] played with Pensick's dad at NU". The Omaha World Herald writes: "Lincoln Northeast junior Cole Pensick, an All-Nebraska lineman, made his pledge to NU . . . in a meeting with Pelini and the Pensick family. Pensick is the son of former Husker Dan Pensick, a defensive tackle who lettered from 1977 to 1980." Ryly Jane Hambleton already wrote about Pensick in the Lincoln Journal Star when he was a junior: " “Cole is a football junkie — he loves the game, loves to practice, loves the weight room,” said [his] Northeast coach Dave Svehla." Nick Rubek at the Omaha World Herald writes that "Lincoln Northeast coach Dave Svehla described [Pensick] as "strong, physical, explosive."

BRENT QVALE (OFFENSIVE TACKLE), North Dakota
See Rivals.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Qvale is a mountain of a man...."
At RecruitingPlanet.com, Qvale is quoted: "“It would be exciting to be a part of a program that will be on the rise. Just to be in one of the classes that started it. I like Nebraska they have great tradition. Their weight room was awesome it’s the best one I’ve seen. Everything is new.” said Qvale".

JEREMIAH SIRLES (OFFENSIVE TACKLE), Colorado
See Rivals.com, Scout.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Sirles has potential to be a very good offensive tackle."
Brent C. Wagner at the Lincoln Journal Star writes: "[Sirles] hoped to attend Michigan, before the Wolverines’ coaching change." Brian Christopherson at the Lincoln Journal Star quotes Sirles on the current Husker season: "“They’re night and day from when they started the season and that’s something I’ve been looking at,” Sirles said. “The coaching staff has really got them going. Nobody’s really giving up. I just think that’s really an awesome reflection on the coaching staff there and that’s the kind of guys I want to play for.”"

NICK ASH (OFFENSIVE GUARD), Texas
See Rivals.com, ESPN Football Recruiting, Scout.com
HuskersExtra.com quotes Ash: " “I just love being an offensive lineman, and being able to hit somebody every play. I love it.”"

JESSE COFFEY (OFFENSIVE GUARD), Texas
See MaxPrepsTV, Rivals.com
ESPN Football Recruiting writes: "Coffey has some potential to be a good offensive guard. " Brian Christopherson at the Lincoln Journal Star quotes Coffey about his visit to Nebraska: "“When I went up there and visited, it was a great experience, definitely by far the best experience of all the colleges I visited,” said the native of Denton, Texas. “Not only were the facilities amazing, but the people were just good people.”"

There is already one commit for the Class of 2010, committed to the Huskers in November as a junior:

ANDREW RODRIGUEZ (OFFENSIVE TACKLE), Nebraska
See Rivals.com
Nebsports.com writes:
"Rodriguez is the first commit for the 2010 class for the Huskers. A lot of in-state Husker fans already know about Rodriguez as his high school team just won the Class B State Championship last weekend. Rodriguez is a highly rated offensive linemen who is already 6′6 and 298 pounds. That while only being a junior in high school! ... Rodriguez mentioned that he chose the Huskers because he likes the state of Nebraska and it will give his family a chance to watch his games in person. Several schools including LSU, Notre Dame, and Texas were sending mail to Rodriguez but he says that he is ending his recruitment early and will not be taking official visits to any other schools."

Things are definitely looking up for the University of Nebraska football team.
_____________________

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