Heading into the 2014 high school football season it appeared that the in-state crop of talent for 2014 was as deep as it had been in quite a while.
Now that the state championships have been won, postseason accolades collected, and All-American games played in HOL has taken time to reflect on the season that was. More importantly, we have reflected on the seniors in the state that helped make it a special season.
After evaluating prospects through the last year, or in some cases much longer than that, at several high profile camps and combines as well as attending games and watching film HOL has come up with our postseason Nebraska top 20 linked below:
The list has been ranked based on a combination of performance and off of potential on the collegiate level.
Movement at the top
HuskerOnline's postseason rankings were highlighted by a big move at the top of the list as Millard West defensive end Harrison Phillips takes over the No. 1 spot ahead of Lincoln Southeast offensive lineman D.J. Foster.
It was a heavily debated move, but at the end of the day the head-to-head winner this season was Phillips and he also took home Gatorade Player of the Year honors which also helped his cause. However, more than anything else, it was Phillips' motor that has earned him all of his accolades.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Phillips plays with effort that is almost unmatched. What really makes that impressive is the fact that he also plays offensive line and almost all special teams too.
Foster should probably be tabbed as No. 1b on this list, especially after his showing at the Semper-Fidelis All-American game. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Nebraska commit was one of the best linemen in the region and he proved to be one of the best in the nation as he continually dominated at practice and during the Semper-Fi game against some of the top players in the country.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Gifford proved his versatility last spring at the Army Combine and at the St. Louis Rivals camp where he worked out as a corner and performed at a high level. He was again the leader of Lincoln Southeast's defense displaying great range and physicality from his safety spot. He also made the Knights' offense go as their quarterback.
Stoltenberg's stock was sky high entering his senior season as he was coming of some unreal performances at the St. Louis Rivals Camp as well as the Nebraska summer camp where he earned an offer from the Huskers. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound lineman's senior season was unfortunately cut short due to a knee injury, but his raw athleticism and potential still lands him toward the top of this list.
Rounding out the top five is Creighton Prep quarterback Easton Stick who finished off his senior campaign earning Super-State honors.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Stick is currently committed to North Dakota State despite their coaching change and holding a couple Division I offers. There is little doubt that Stick is one of the better quarterbacks to come out of the state in quite a while and he has all of the tools to make a great signal caller on the next level.
Depth in numbers, quality
It's been said several times, but the 2014 class really was as deep and talented as any class has been in quite some time.
There are currently no fewer than 18 players holding offers from FCS or FBS programs in the state. Of those players, 11 have already made commitments and that number will only grow as signing day gets closer and closer.
In past years there has been a sharp decline in the talent after the top one or two players. The 2014 class is pretty steady however as no fewer than 35 players were discussed as deserving to be on our top 20 rankings. The difference from the No. 10 spot to the No. 20 spot really is not all that large.
As the recruiting process unfolds over the next few weeks you will surely see players on this list as well as some who just missed find homes to play on the next level as either scholarship athletes or preferred walk-ons.
One such player is Giltner linebacker Garrett Poppen who was recently extended and has accepted an invitation to walk-on at Nebraska.