All this couldn’t be coincidence, Jackson Hannah thought.
The coveted linebacker from SEC country already had Nebraska among his favorite schools before an unofficial visit quickly came together last Saturday. But there he was, standing on the Memorial Stadium turf, envisioning a future as Husker. He toured downtown Lincoln and loved it.
Then the moment that swayed him — a face-to-face conversation with Nebraska coach Scott Frost.
“My dad talks about signs from God a lot, trying to pick those out,” Hannah told The World-Herald. “Everything Coach Frost was saying to me just hit me hard. I could see the look in his eyes that he was going to bring Nebraska back on top. I really wanted to be a part of that.”
Hannah — a 6-foot-3, 220-pound standout from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee — didn’t commit that day only because he wanted to talk with his family first. He verbally pledged shortly thereafter and made his decision public Wednesday afternoon, becoming the eighth known member of NU’s 2019 class.
Frost made points that stuck with Hannah, telling the teenager his own experience of signing with Stanford in 1993 and never feeling like he fit in. Hannah said he felt different leaving that meeting than he had when visiting “hundreds” of schools the past three years.
“Everything he said just kind of clicked,” Hannah said. “I felt like God was kind of talking through Coach Frost. I just love his demeanor. He’s going to win, and I really want to be a part of that. On top of that, Nebraska has great academics and it’s big-time football in a big-time conference. It’s a package deal and it called out to me like no other.”
Hannah holds at least 18 scholarship offers and considered his other finalists to be Arkansas, LSU, Virginia and California. Alabama and Oregon were among other suitors but the ‘backer said of the Crimson Tide, “I wasn’t really interested in them anymore.”
Nebraska didn’t pop onto Hannah’s radar until he received an offer three months ago. Even then, it took a little research and his father — Steve Hannah, a Mutual of Omaha employee who is often in the Cornhusker State — to give an account of NU’s previous glory to convince him to schedule a visit.
Now he becomes the latest in a rush of new Huskers. Since Friday, Frost and Co. have earned commitments from graduate transfer defensive lineman Vaha Vainuku, junior college offensive lineman Desmond Bland, 2019 quarterback Luke McCaffrey and juco cornerback Will Jackson.
With the addition of Hannah — the first NU recruit from Tennessee since Barry Turner in 2005 — the Huskers rise to 29th in the 2019 class rankings, according to the 247Sports composite.
Hannah is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and ESPN, while Rivals assigns him four stars and calls him the 236th overall player in the Class of 2019. He tallied 52 tackles, nine for loss, with three sacks, a forced fumble and two recoveries last year for his high school team that also goes by Big Red.
Linebackers coach Barrett Ruud recruited Hannah, who will be an inside linebacker in NU’s 3-4 system. The prospect played defensive end as a prep freshman — that’s when he developed strong hands and an explosive first step — and was an outside linebacker last year but plans to move inside this fall.
A multi-sport athlete who considered playing college lacrosse, Hannah said he won’t enroll early because Montgomery Bell Academy doesn’t allow its students to do so.
Hannah said his next step is to become a recruiter himself. He named four-star linebacker Kane Patterson (Nashville) and four-star receiver Trey Knox (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) as two top 2019 prospects he will be pitching right away.
“The people I’m going to be texting will certainly be worth Nebraska’s while,” Hannah said. “I want to plant a seed.”