Nebraska's push to add a second quarterback to its 2018 recruiting class came up short Saturday night when Matthew Tago announced his commitment to Oregon State.
Tago — a 6-foot-4, 225-pound standout from Quartz Hill High School in Lancaster, California — chose the Beavers over finalists Nebraska and Utah.
More than a dozen schools offered Tago a scholarship, including USC, Colorado, Washington State and UCLA. He was committed to the Bruins for four months before the school fired Jim Mora.
But Nebraska — which offered Jan. 2 — was the only program targeting him as a college quarterback. Oregon State recruited Tago as a linebacker.
The composite three-star prospect — 247Sports and Rivals list him as an "athlete," and ESPN dubs him an outside 'backer — took his final official visit to Nebraska on Jan. 26 after trips to Washington State (Jan. 19) and Oregon State (Jan. 12). Coincidentally, his lead recruiter from the Beavers is former Nebraska linebackers coach Trent Bray, who also served briefly as NU's interim head coach after Mike Riley was fired Nov. 25.
Tago finished his final prep season completing 251 of 386 passes (65 percent) for 3,173 yards and 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He also ran for 500 yards and 16 scores while showcasing an elusiveness in the pocket and an occasional willingness to truck a defender. As a linebacker, he netted 61 tackles (11 for loss) as Quartz Hill finished 13-2.
"I think me just being able to escape the pocket and just change the game with my legs is a big part of my game," Tago said. "I'm not scared to hit, either, so if I have to I'll run somebody over and be physical on the quarterback side."
Nebraska lost 2017 starting quarterback Tanner Lee to the NFL draft but returns sophomore Patrick O'Brien and redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia. NU also inked four-star California prospect Adrian Martinez during the early signing period and gained a UCF transfer in redshirt freshman Noah Vedral, a Nebraska native who is set to walk on this year before going on scholarship.
But Husker coaches clearly wanted Tago in the fold. QB coach Mario Verduzco made an in-home visit last month while Frost, offensive coordinator Troy Walters and offensive line coach Greg Austin all stopped by his high school a week later.
Nebraska isn't done going head to head on the recruiting trail with Oregon State, which hired back Riley as an assistant coach in early December. Three-star wide receiver Andre Hunt — who will choose between finalists NU, OSU and San Diego State — is set to make his announcement Wednesday on national signing day. The wideout is good friends with Tago and attends Lancaster (California) Paraclete High School, which is only a few miles from the quarterback's home.
Hunt, who is one of five official visitors Nebraska is hosting this weekend, said he and Tago would make their college choices independent of each other but have spoken about the potential of being on the same team.
These are the players who built Nebraska football.
©2018 BH Media Group