Five-star running back Aaron Green's decision to commit to Nebraska is one of the most significant gets for the Huskers in years.
The last time Nebraska landed a running back who was this highly rated was back in 2005 with Marlon Lucky, who was a consensus five-star back, although he never really lived up to his billing. Before that, the last big-name running back recruits who lived up to the hype were Lawrence Phillips, who was signed in 1993 and helped lead the Huskers to a national title in 1994, and Ahman Green, who was signed in 1995 and played a key role in two Nebraska national championships.
This is big for coach Bo Pelini and Nebraska for another reason, though. In the past, the Huskers have always gone after downhill, straight-line running backs. The offense relied on big linemen and a power running game. Green, who's No. 10 in the ESPNU 150, is different. He gives Nebraska an explosive, quick, hit-the-crease-and-go guy. For the most part, the Huskers haven't had a back like this before. It marks a change in the Nebraska recruiting philosophy and what Pelini is trying to establish. He's bringing in guys who are more athletic, who can threaten the perimeter and are playmakers on offense, all while remaining stingy on defense.
Green, from San Antonio (Texas) Madison High School, chose the Huskers over Texas, FSU and Cal. Slowed by injuries during his junior year (although he still rushed for 1,133 yards and 11 TDs), he appears to be at full strength this season and has 1,307 yards and 16 TDs in eight games this season. Green uses a striking blend of speed, quickness and balance. His sharp footwork and ability to stop, start and redirect on a dime with excellent burst out of his cuts make him a threat to break off a long run on any given carry. He can exploit an in-line crease or beat defenders to the corner with his great acceleration and outside quicks.
Green needs to add size, strength and power to become an every-down back in Lincoln, but he has the potential to grow in that role. Until then, expect Green to be utilized as a change-of-pace, big-play back and a great complement to quarterback Taylor Martinez.
He is the highest-rated player in Nebraska's class, but he's definitely not the only playmaker. Pelini is stocking up on difference-makers who could contribute early. Explosive athlete Jamal Turner (Arlington, Texas/Sam Houston), whom we compare to LSU's Russell Shepard coming out of high school (who was No. 3 in the ESPNU 150 in 2009), could find himself in a Martinez type of role behind center or be utilized in the slot. Quarterback Bubba Starling (Gardner, Kan./Gardner Edgerton) has one of the strongest arms in this class and is very athletic for his size (6-5, 195 pounds).
With the focus turning to adding more athletic players on offense, the program known for the Blackshirts certainly has a bright future on the offensive side of the ball.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.