LINCOLN — To all his buddies who kept asking where he’d play college football, Omaha Burke linebacker Nick Henrich offered his answer Saturday night.
The Huskers landed the state’s highest-ranked recruit when the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Henrich — an All-Nebraska pick who had 119 tackles and 11 sacks last season — announced on Twitter that he was picking NU over a host of offers, including Wisconsin and Iowa, his other finalists.
He took visits to all three schools — and more.
At Wisconsin, it was an official visit. The Badgers had just landed one Nebraskan in the 2018 class (Lincoln Southeast’s Bryson Williams) and wanted another.
At Iowa, there’s a long history of Nebraska-born players — including current tight end Noah Fant — picking the Hawkeyes.
But Nebraska won this battle.
“They have the best coaching staff in the nation and the best strength and conditioning staff in the nation,” Henrich said Saturday before announcing his decision. “I really just think it’s the perfect fit for me.”
Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud, who has taken over in-state recruiting and played a key role in landing Henrich, has walked Henrich’s path.
Ruud starred at Lincoln Southeast. He played all four years at NU. He left as the school record holder in tackles. His lanky body and nose for the football are similar to Henrich’s.
“I have a great relationship with the entire coaching staff, in particular Coach Ruud,” Henrich said. “He is great and really relatable. He played the position at the highest level, and that is someone I want to learn from.”
Ruud will have highly touted clay to mold. The No. 219 player in the nation, according to 247 Sports composite, Henrich is a consensus four-star prospect and top-100 player — No. 87 — according to 247.
He also packs a bigger wallop than most.
“He’s just unmatched,” Burke coach Paul Limongi said earlier this summer. “He plays the linebacker position unlike anybody I’ve seen ever play it in high school. Fast. Aggressive. He has a great nose for the ball. Very savvy — makes others better.
“And he hits like a truck. First time he had pads on as a freshman — first play, he made the play.”
Henrich’s commitment is a victory for coach Scott Frost, who made winning in-state recruiting battles a priority. Even if he chose Stanford out of high school, Frost returned to Nebraska. Earlier this summer, he recounted the pitch he makes to in-state prospects:
“One of the things I overlooked is finding a school that’s a good cultural fit for you,” Frost said. “I definitely fit better at Nebraska. Sometimes as a recruit, you have a tendency to think ‘the grass must be greener’ somewhere else. It definitely isn’t always greener.”
Henrich becomes the 13th commit in Nebraska’s 2019 class, the second inside linebacker and the fourth native Nebraskan, joining outside linebacker Garrett Nelson, athlete Garrett Snodgrass and defensive tackle Ethan Piper. With Henrich, Nebraska has four of the five in-state prospects it wanted most.
The fifth? Burke tight end Chris Hickman.
Hickman averaged 25 yards per catch last season. He plans to take some official visits in the fall.
Henrich, meanwhile, is done. He wanted to pick a school before his senior year.
“I’m shutting it down and 100 percent committed to Nebraska,” he said.