Stay updated with Nebraska Cornhuskers football recruiting in the latest edition of The Harvest, which posts at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Be sure to check out previous editions of The Harvest here.
Spencer Petras impresses in front of Mike Riley
Mike Riley stayed busy during Nebraska’s bye weekend, traveling across the country to potentially find a quarterback for his 2018 recruiting class. On Saturday, he watched Spencer Petras, who made Riley’s trip to the Bay Area worth his while. Petras threw for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding 2 more on the ground, with Riley in attendance.
“More excitement than pressure,” Petras told Land of 10, describing how he felt seeing Riley standing on the sideline. “The pressure leaves once we take the field. Super awesome to see him there, though.”
The Marin (Calif.) Catholic star, a 3-star pro-style prospect, said he and his teammates are hoping for a deep run into the playoffs. Ask Petras how his game has evolved this season and he’d reply that his growing accuracy and general knowledge of the game have improved the most.
Of course, the catch with Petras is that he is committed to Oregon State. But since former Beavers coach Gary Andersen resigned on Oct. 9, the Cornhuskers have been working hard to flip Petras.
“I was disappointed to hear that he was leaving,” Petras said of Andersen’s departure.
The Beavers have kept the pressure on Petras. He’s been in touch with interim coach Cory Hall, most of the offensive assistants, and even athletic director Scott Barnes.
What has been their message?
“They are still figuring everything out, but the future of the program is strong,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the Huskers side, Petras said the Cornhuskers have been fairly consistent in contacting him since the spring. (Petras attended the spring game in April on an unofficial visit.) Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf have been talking to him the most.
“They have been telling me that they’d love to have me,” Petras said.
He seems to have a solid relationship with the Nebraska coaching staff, particularly Riley.
“It’s always great to speak with him,” Petras said. “He’s an awesome guy.”
When he was asked about whether he would reconsider his commitment to Oregon State, he answered with a wait-and-see approach.
“I love football, but I understand that I have a business thought process at the next level,” Petras said. “After Coach Anderson stepped down, my initial human reaction was to think about survival. So yes, naturally it has been thought about.
“I am committed to Oregon State and waiting to see who the next coach will be. Respectfully, I do not want to comment on any other programs at this time.”
So it’s evident that Oregon State’s hire ultimately will influence Petras’ decision. His high school coach, Mazi Moayed, thinks that if the next Beavers coach desires a mobile quarterback, it would behoove Petras to reconsider his commitment to Oregon State.
“He’s committed to Oregon State, but at this point it’s a business decision for him, so the next head coach at Oregon State will play a vital role,” Moayed told the Marin Independent Journal. “Hopefully he’s a pro-style offensive guy. If a coach comes in there and wants a running quarterback, Spencer might not want to do that. Because of that uncertainty, he has to keep his options open until there’s clarity at Oregon State.”
Moayed, a trusted mentor for the young quarterback, and Petras will be paying attention to the coaching situations at both schools.
“I think [Petras] holds the power right now,” Moayed said. “It creates some interesting potential options for him.
“Spencer’s head is on straight. He’s in the here and now. He just has to wait for it for a little while.”
Mike Riley discusses possibility of landing a 2018 quarterback
Before seeing Petras in California, Riley’s stopped in Kansas on Friday to watch North Carolina commit Jace Ruder. Ruder committed to North Carolina on June 19, two days after attending a camp there. Through seven games this season, Ruder has thrown for 819 yards and 9 touchdowns. The dual-threat signal caller has rushed for 759 and 11 scores.
According to 247Sports, Ruder is the No. 16 dual-threat quarterback in the country.
There are four quarterbacks on the Nebraska roster: starter Tanner Lee (redshirt junior), backup Patrick O’Brien (redshirt freshman), third-stringer Tristan Gebbia (freshman) and scout-teamer Andrew Bunch (sophomore). Is quarterback an absolute necessity for the 2018 class? With a youthful crop at quarterback, perhaps not. But more often than not, college coaches prefer having one quarterback in each class to account for a variety of circumstances, such as injuries, development and overall depth.
“We have re-evaluated the whole idea of whether or not to wait and just get a guy in 2019,” Riley told reporters Monday, according to Parker Gabriel of the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I like the room the way it is; I want to keep a small room in the quarterback room. But, when you look at the big picture — in the future — it made us think ‘maybe this would be smart to continue to look if we find the right  guy.’ ”
The need for a quarterback would also arise if Tanner Lee opted for the NFL draft after this season. The chances of that happening are slim, but not out of the realm of possibility. By not focusing on recruiting a quarterback for most of the 2018 cycle, the Cornhuskers have set themselves back, thus the attempts to poach other program’s verbal commits. Throughout the season, Riley said he watches lots of tape on prospects, even while preparing for games.
“We’ve kept an eye on a few and, for me, that’s kind of been one of the things I’ve always done on a bye week is go see a quarterback or two if I can,” Riley said. “So, we had two likely suspects to take a look at.”
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