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LINCOLN - Nebraska coach Bill Callahan needed all of one day on the recruiting trail to reveal the identity of his top target to replace quarterback Josh Freeman.
Callahan and NU assistant Bill Busch on Monday night visited the home of Garrett Green, a 6-foot-2 senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Green, who played Saturday in the seventh annual CaliFlorida Bowl, may soon make his way to Lincoln for an official visit.
"It sounds like they're very interested," Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney said Tuesday.
The need to find a quarterback took precedence over nearly all other recruiting objectives at Nebraska when Freeman, the Kansas City standout, reneged two weeks ago on his pledge of six months and committed to Kansas State.
Early speculation focused on Mitch Mustain of Springdale, Ark., the uncommitted No. 2 prospect nationally at his position. A player of Mustain's caliber, though, is likely beyond the Huskers' reach at this late stage.
Texas Tech recruit Greg McElroy of Southlake, Texas, also heard from Nebraska coaches after the Alamo Bowl last week. But the fact that Callahan was waiting at Green's door this week should not be overlooked.
Monday was the first day since Dec. 17 - two days before the Freeman decommitment - that coaches were allowed on the road to visit potential recruits.
Rooney, an Omaha native, described Green as "an extraordinary athlete."
Rivals.com ranks him as the nation's No. 7 dual-threat quarterback. He runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5-second range and operated a multiple-set offense in Sherman Oaks. Green was a three-year starter at the school, which won 35 straight games before losing last month in the quarterback's final game.
"He's a great leader, with great work ethic," Rooney said. "Garrett can make all kinds of different throws. But the biggest thing is that he's very, very bright. He learns things the first time you say it. He soaks up knowledge."
The Huskers' stiffest competition for Green, interestingly, may come from Harvard. Green has already visited the Ivy League academic power. Texas A&M, Ole Miss and San Diego State have also offered scholarships. Rooney said UCLA and Southern California maintained interest, though neither school has offered.
Still reasons to watch top preps
While the Huskers have enjoyed success in recruiting over the past several months, here's another reminder that things have not come as easy this season as last: The roster for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Of the 78 high school stars scheduled to suit up Saturday in San Antonio, none are set to sign with the Huskers next month. A year ago, NU had six committed players in this game. A seventh prospect soon followed.
Nebraska fans will no doubt still watch the 1 p.m. showcase of the nation's top prep talent.
First, there's the Freeman factor. He will quarterback the west squad along with Mustain and Texas recruit Jevan Snead of Stephenville, Texas.
In addition, cornerback A.J. Wallace of Pomfret, Md., might still land at Nebraska. Wallace is one of several players who plan to announce a college decision during the live NBC broadcast. The Huskers face tough competition, from the likes of Florida State, Ohio State and Penn State, to snag Wallace.
Other U.S. Army All-Americans who showed some level of interest in Nebraska include cornerback Devin Ross, linebacker Allen Bradford, safety Jonas Mouton, wide receiver Perrish Cox, wide receiver David Ausberry and lineman Chad Roark - the brother of NU freshman Craig Roark.
NU losing a link to state high schools
The impact of Scott Downing's departure from Lincoln looms large on the homefront for Nebraska.
Downing, the longest tenured NU assistant at a whole three seasons, takes with him to Northern Colorado valuable connections among the state's high school coaches.
Callahan has no doubt disturbed the once-peaceful relationship that lasted for decades between the Huskers and the Omaha-Lincoln high school coaches. For two years, though, Downing was there to serve as something of a translator.
With Associate A.D. Tim Cassidy in place, Downing's clerical duties as recruiting coordinator can be reassigned without interruption. But his likeability and smooth demeanor will be difficult to replace.
Callahan said last week he intends to make instate recruiting a high priority in deciding how to divide assignments after the coaching vacancy is filled.
Clearly, Busch and offensive line coach Dennis Wagner know the Nebraska prep scene best among the NU coaches. But both assistants are valuable to the Huskers in California - the promised land for Callahan in recruiting.
Assuming Callahan doesn't hire an ex-Husker to replace Downing, we'll soon see just how much the coach values what the Nebraska high schools have to offer.
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