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Recruiting: Huskers don’t have Atlanta market cornered, but can extend coverage in talent-rich Georgia

You had Calibraska in the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes. And Floribraska for 2018, when the Huskers recruited the Sunshine State with new focus.

Georgiabraska doesn’t have the same ring to it, but NU may have more Georgians on its roster than ever before.

With the addition of UCF graduate transfer Tre Neal, who played at Buford High in the area, Nebraska will have six Georgians on its roster: Neal, senior safety Aaron Williams (Atlanta), junior inside linebacker Mohamed Barry (Loganville), sophomore outside linebacker Breon Dixon (Loganville), freshman wide receiver Katerian Legrone (Atlanta) and freshman outside linebacker Caleb Tannor (Stone Mountain).

A seventh, Loganville Grayson running back Ronald Thompkins, is committed for the 2019 class. Two more Atlanta-area defensive backs, Quinton Newsome and Jamel Starks, are planning to visit when Nebraska hosts Colorado, Sept. 8, according to recruiting sites.

It’s still not easy. Thirty-nine of 2019’s top 50 prospects in Georgia, according to the 247Sports composite, have already committed.

Thompkins is one of them. The No. 44 prospect in Georgia is the third-highest rated prospect in NU’s 2019 class.

That said, Nebraska can get really good players among Georgia prospects ranked between 50 and 100.

The Huskers are still battling Power Five programs for those guys — the No. 100 prospect is committed to South Carolina — but at the very least, the flagship school, Georgia, typically has its fill by Nos. 51 through 100.

Georgia Tech recruits heavily in this area, but the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense and higher academic standards make for tougher sledding.

What’s more, if you get an Atlanta-area cornerback — even a mid-three-star one — the competition level he will have faced before college is pretty high. In the Mike Riley era, Nebraska put a lot of emphasis on recruiting the highest- end cornerbacks, often from California. The plan backfired when Riley’s final season went kaput.

But even if Riley had saved his job with, say, a 7-5 season, who knows if those California kids would have stayed. So one could argue it was never the best tack in the first place.

Of the four first-team All-Big Ten defensive backs last season, none was a consensus four-star prospect. Penn State’s Marcus Allen was a high three-star, Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon was a mid three-star, Iowa’s Josh Jackson was a low three-star and Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson was a high two-star.

That’s a small sample size, but it’s instructive that Nebraska’s best corners recently — Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard and Stanley Jean-Baptiste — were relatively unheralded.

So if Nebraska can pluck three-star corners out of Georgia — and in the process build more of a Atlanta pipeline — all the better to try to recruit the Georgia whales most worth getting: defensive linemen and pass rushers.

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