If you’re looking for a player from Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s latest recruiting class who will have the most impact from Day One, look no further than junior college defensive end Randy Gregory.
The one-time Purdue signee was coveted by a slew schools, and it’s obvious why. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, the Fishers, Ind., native has the size that make coaches salivate. Gregory was a one-man wrecking crew at Arizona Western Community College in Yuma, amassing 82 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Because of those numbers, Gregory was widely regarded as the nation’s top junior college defensive end and one of the best JUCO prospects regardless of position. His size, production, and the fact that he still has three years of eligibility remaining made him a wanted man from coast to coast in recruiting.
Nebraska coaches have been very candid about getting more dynamic athletes with speed and quickness on the defensive line. Well, they got just what they wanted in Gregory. Gregory held scholarship offers from dozens of schools, including West Virginia, Oregon State and UCLA among others.
Making Gregory such a good get for the Big Red is how much they needed a force coming off the edge since senior defensive end Eric Martin, who was fourth in the Big Ten last season with 8.5 sacks, has graduated.
Gregory isn’t shy about wanting to take Martin’s starting spot. He’s already proclaimed, “I want to be a starter by the first game.”
That’s a pretty lofty goal for any first-year player whether they have junior college experience or not, but if there’s any player in Nebraska’s Class of 2013 that should be labeled an instant impact type, it’s Gregory, and he will have a lot to live up to as he joins a Nebraska defense that made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks in 2012.
Now with a player like Gregory in the fold, that production should remain high. If it does, expect Nebraska’s defense to be much improved from the unit that allowed nearly 28 points per game, one of the worst totals in the conference, and don’t be surprised if the Cornhuskers improve on their 10-4 record.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.