Class of 2011

Bubba Starling

HometownGardner, KS
High schoolEdgerton

Bubba Starling, a four-star quarterback prospect out of Gardner, Kan., pledged to NU on Saturday. The senior-to-be chose the Huskers over offers from defending national champion Alabama, Notre Dame, Arizona, Louisville and Texas Tech, among others.

Starling is a projected first-round pick in next summer’s Major League Baseball draft, and he could have a multi-million dollar deal thrown his way at this time next year, but says right now he plans on playing football for the Huskers.

Starling rushed for 273 rushing yards and threw for 118 yards and five scores in a game against No. 3 McPherson. He went onto finish the season with 2,417 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, averaging 14 yards per carry, leading Gardner-Edgerton to a semifinal appearance in Kansas’ second-largest class.

“He’s the best high school athlete I’ve ever seen,” said Blue Valley (Kan.) coach Eric Driskell. Driskell’s team beat Gardner-Edgerton in the state semifinal, but Starling had 395 rushing yards.

Starling has a vertical jump of 34½ inches, 40-yard dash time of 4.36 seconds and can throw a football 55 yards with two knees on the ground — and 80 yards from two feet.

His real name is Derek, but an aunt nicknamed him “Bubba” because he was a 10-pound baby. Starling made the name stick when his first-grade teacher asked him what he wanted to be called.

Baseball America ranks Starling as the No. 1 high school prospect in the country. The football experts like him, too. Rivals gives him four stars. ESPN’s Jeremy Crabtree said he’s never seen any high school player dominate more than Starling. That includes players such as Vince Young and Adrian Peterson.

Starling, who turned down scholarship offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and other top programs, is personally close to Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.

Our take: Starling is the type of player who could potentially solve Nebraska’s quarterback issues and lift the program to new heights under Bo Pelini. But the chance that he ever suits up is slim. He’ll likely be chosen in the first round of the major league draft. His agent is Scott Boras. And Boras’ clients don’t turn down $5 million to $10 million in order to play college football. Starling will probably go down in Husker history as a “what if?” similar to Carl Crawford.

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