The Nebraska Cornhuskers have often been a landing spot for great defensive linemen. Tom Osborne and his staff were able to recruit the many greats including National Champions Grant Wistrom and Jason Peters. The Huskers have had many more of course. Most recently, the Huskers featured Jared Crick and Ndamukong Suh. It is conceivable that Head Coach Bo Pelini’s program in Lincoln could be a potential landing spot for some of the top defensive players in the country. Surely at least Pelini would like to think so. Unfortunately for the Cornhuskers at least one recruit has found a new desire to pursue his playing career elsewhere. What makes it even more unfortunate for the Huskers from an offensive stand point is that the young man will be lining up against the Huskers and other Big 10 schools.
Coach Pelini had targeted Darius Slade early on. The 6-foot-5, 238-pound strong side rush end was exactly the type of player that Pelini is often in search of. Slade has the size and speed that fits into the Husker defensive game plan very well. Slade’s height would have been a welcome feature to the Husker defensive line as his length could be used both to contain on the end or up in the air on passing downs. Pelini had sent one of his top recruiters to New Jersey in hopes of securing Slade and when defensive coordinator John Pappuchis reported back to his superiors the good news was welcome in Lincoln. Not only would the Huskers be getting a key recruit they also may have an open spot on their defensive line as the immediate future of black-shirt Avery Moss currently remains uncertain. Also, it means a lot for a football program when they commit one of their top coaches (in this instance the defensive coordinator) to a recruit who lives so far away and they are successful. A team like the Huskers would hate to waste resources but more importantly the time of one of their top recruiters only to come up short in the recruiting competition.
Unfortunately for the Husker coaching staff and all of Husker Nation, for some reason, Slade decided that Lincoln was not where he would be spending his playing days and continue his education. There is no certain indication as to why Slade choose to renege on his commitment but reports are that he felt pressured to choose the Huskers and that upon reflection it was not a good fit for him. New Jersey was once one of Tom Osborne’s recruiting hot beds; perhaps old alliances in the region initially helped sway Slade’s decision but eventually their influence wore off.
Nonetheless, the recruiting process quickly re-ignited, as two Big 10 schools were quick to become opportunists. The division champions quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the crowd in recruiting Slade. The Michigan State Spartans committed both their conference champion head coach Mark Dantonio and his defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to the task of recruiting Slade. The Ohio State Buckeyes were quickly represented offensive line coach Ed Warriner who was dispatched by head coach Urban Meyer to attempt to secure a commitment. As the Buckeyes added a new Defensive Line Coach in legendary Larry Johnson, it was perceived they would be the front-runner in the recruiting race. Ultimately, the Spartans were able to secure the commitment of Slade.