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July 16, 2013As the high school football season approaches it is evident the talent in the state of Nebraska appears to be as deep as it has been in many years.
After evaluating prospects through their junior season and over the course of several high profile camps and combines HOL has come up with our own Nebraska top 20 linked below:
HuskerOnline Preseason 2014 Nebraska Top 20
The list has been ranked based on performance to date and largely off of potential on the collegiate level. Updated versions of the in-state rankings will follow as the season progresses.
Early offers and commitments across the state
The state of Nebraska already has at least 12 players who have confirmed offers from FCS or FBS schools before their senior season begins and that number is sure to grow. Six of the 12 players with offers have already made verbal commitments.
Lincoln Southeast comes in with two players in the top five with Nebraska offensive lineman commit D.J. Foster leading the way at No. 1. Foster has been a mainstay on the Knights' line since his sophomore season and has been recognized as a standout at several high profile national camps and combines as he heads into his senior season. Although he had many high profile offers to his name he elected to end his recruitment when he committed to NU at Big Red Weekend.
Gretna lineman Mick Stoltenberg comes in at No. 2 in the state after emerging as a top prospect this past winter. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Stoltenberg then went on to solidify himself as a high profile prospect at the St. Louis Rivals Camp where he was among the top overall performers in attendance. He earned an offer from Nebraska at their Big Red Football School this summer and subsequently committed to the Huskers a few days later.
Millard West defensive end Harrison Phillips may have been the toughest player we saw in the state last season and he cracks HOL's list at No. 3. Phillips plays both ways for the Wildcats and has a motor that just doesn't quit. Schools from around the country certainly took notice as he racked up over 20 offers before committing to Stanford on Monday. Phillips is looking for a state championship in football to go along with his consecutive state titles on the wrestling mat for the Wildcats.
Foster's teammate and fellow Husker commit Luke Gifford comes in at No. 4 after having put together impressive sophomore and junior seasons for the Southeast Knights. Gifford showed off his coverage skills at both the Army Junior Combine and the St. Louis Rivals Camp during the off-season and looks to be a standout at safety as well as quarterback entering his senior year.
Creighton Prep quarterback Easton Stick rounds out our top five. Stick had a very good junior season at Prep, but his development during the off-season has vaulted him up the rankings. He has added about 20-pounds of lean mass since last season and showed a live arm at the St. Louis Rivals Camp and at the All-Nebraska Combine. By all accounts he had stellar performances at the Nebraska and North Dakota State camps as well.
Players who could make big moves
There are several players in the top 20 who could make big moves up the list once the season gets underway. There are also several players who were given serious consideration to be included in the top 20 that fell just outside of the list who could vault up the rankings with solid senior seasons.
While he comes in at No. 6 on the preseason list, Omaha Burke cornerback Trey Carr could be one of the players poised for a move up the charts. Carr has looked great this spring and summer at several camps and should continue to garner serious attention from some bigger schools even though he has verbally committed to play for South Dakota State.
Lincoln Northeast's Makiah Slade and Millard North's Clay Fisher are two other players who could see their stock rise. Both players have good size and the physical tools to be successful on the next level and have the potential to have breakout seasons this year. Slade will no doubt be the focal point on offense and defense of his Northeast squad which has a new head coach and Fisher is making the move to take over the prestigious quarterback position at Millard North this fall.
Players like Omaha Burke's Blake Emsick, Millard West's Skyler Monaghan, Omaha Central's Malik Harris, Omaha Gross' Anthony Vigneri, Gretna's Nick Stoltenberg, and Ralston's Zach Flott are just a few of several prospects who were given serious consideration for the preseason list, but could ultimately wind up in the postseason rankings.