LINCOLN — Darien Chase became the first domino to fall in what may be a string of upcoming commitments for Nebraska football’s 2019 recruiting class.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Chase — rated as a four-star athlete by the 247Sports composite — announced Thursday he picked Nebraska over Boise State. Chase, who had more than 1,000 yards receiving last season at Camas (Wash.) Union, also turned down offers from Utah, Oregon and Oregon State, among others. He visited for NU’s win over Minnesota and could play either cornerback or receiver.
Nebraska, for now, has Chase slotted as a receiver. He has 40 catches for 475 yards and eight touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
“Great work ethic, great competitor, really quiet and reserved, which is kind of refreshing in the social media era of ‘look at me, look at me, look at me,’” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said.
Chase requires double coverage as a receiver, Rosenbach said, and he shuts down his half of the field as a cornerback.
Chase did not immediately respond to phone or text requests for comment. His quarterback at Union, senior and three-star prospect Lincoln Victor, said Chase kept his decision secret from everyone but Rosenbach until players gathered in the film room during lunch at 12:40 Pacific Time. Even then, they waited to celebrate until the announcement popped up on their social media accounts.
“He had us all refreshing our Twitter and just waiting,” Victor told The World-Herald. “Then he showed up and we all knew and we all just started clapping and giving him hugs.”
Victor, who has known and played with Chase since both were 8 years old, said the playmaker had offered to wait to announce his commitment until after Friday’s game against intracity rival Camas because he didn’t want to overshadow the team.
On the field, Chase’s most notable moment this year might be an 85-yard kickoff return in the final 30 seconds of a game to flip a loss into a party. Off it, he’s known for his inquisitive nature. He frequently asks coaches for technique tips and fellow players like Victor to train together. He sought out a tutor last year and saw a considerable bump in his SAT scores and academics as a result.
Chase also had a certain glow about him when he came back from his Nebraska visit last weekend, Victor said.
“He’s such a dynamic playmaker,” Victor said. “He has so many aspects of his game where you look at him and it’s just like, ‘He has the it factor.’ He can turn games around for Nebraska and I think it’s such a good pickup for him because as (Scott) Frost is building that program, he’s one of those guys that can really turn a program around. Not only what he brings as a receiver but an athlete.”
The Huskers are in hot pursuit of several other skill players who could decide soon, including Frankfort (Ky.) Western Hills running back/receiver Wandale Robinson and Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County cornerback Tavian Mayo, who visited Nebraska for the Minnesota game. Mayo told Rivals that Nebraska is in his top two. Another visitor for the Minnesota game, Lakeville (Minn.) North offensive tackle Bryce Benhart, may be close to a decision as well, although he told Michigan Insider he could take a visit to Ann Arbor.
As for Chase, he could help balance out a group of wide receivers whose current production is top heavy.
Of the 105 catches by receivers, JD Spielman (48 receptions) and Stanley Morgan (37) are responsible for 81 percent. They’re targeted at an even higher rate.
And while only Morgan and Bryan Reimers are seniors this season, junior college transfers Mike Williams and Jaron Woodyard will be seniors in 2019. Among underclassmen, only Spielman — a redshirt sophomore — has any catches. Freshmen Andre Hunt and Jaevon McQuitty have played sparingly. Justin McGriff — likely moving to tight end — has yet to play at all, nor has Miles Jones, a hybrid back/receiver.
Chase, Nebraska’s 18th commit, joins Jamie Nance (6-foot, 160 pounds) as receiver commits in the 2019 class.