|HometownMissouri City, TX|
|Commit date||July 4, 2020|
LINCOLN — Nebraska’s Fourth of July present is another pass-catching option for a squad whose receivers may have struggled more than any others in the Big Ten in 2019.
Latrell Neville — a 6-foot-3, 195-pound three-star prospect from Missouri City, Texas — announced on Twitter Saturday that he’s committed to the Huskers. Neville had offers from Virginia Tech, Auburn, Baylor and Arkansas, among others.
His timing was similar to two 2014 recruits, Freedom Akinmoladun and Monte Harrison, who made their decisions on the holiday in 2013.
Unlike those picks, Neville’s decision was hardly a surprise. He’d been trending toward the Huskers since decommitting from Virginia Tech on June 6. When he announced weeks ago that he would declare his new commitment July 4, the expectation was that Nebraska would be the winner.
His modest stats in 2019 — 30 catches for 276 yards, according to MaxPreps — were related to transferring close to the start of the season. His coaches at Missouri City’s Hightower High chose a slot role, where he caught more screen passes than deep balls.
“We used him in the slot and then we used him outside as the jump-ball guy,” Hightower coach Joseph Sam said in June. “He’s got a basketball background. That’s what makes him a really good receiver. He was definitely making the strides we wanted to see in the offseason.
“I think he’s poised for a breakout senior season. I would bet my money that his senior year, he’ll have a better year than most of us think. He’s not trying to figure it out on the fly. He knows exactly what to do in our offensive scheme. It takes somebody a year to get used to it, and after a year, that’s usually when they thrive.”
Neville remained a priority for NU even when he picked Virginia Tech in April. He committed there, in part, because Houston’s top quarterback prospect was also pledged to the Hokies. But when Dematrius Davis decommitted and flipped to Auburn, Neville dropped Virginia Tech as well.
“Them not having a quarterback committed kind of spooked him a little bit,” Sam said. Nebraska has a 2021 quarterback commit in Kearney Catholic’s Heinrich Haarberg and is pursuing a walk-on for the class in prep school signal- caller Jackson Burkhalter.
Neville, a grandson of R&B legend Aaron Neville, said NU receivers coach Matt Lubick had been recruiting him harder than others. And his reputation as a coach and developer of players at Oregon was a key factor in Neville’s interest.
Neville also liked the freedom of Scott Frost’s offense, in which a receiver can play just about any spot on the field.
“Coach Frost doesn’t limit his playmakers,” Neville said. “He puts his guys where they’re most comfortable and where they make plays. I’d be playing all over the field, and that’s one thing I like to hear, because that’s what I’m accustomed to doing.”
What Nebraska will likely want Neville to do is catch touchdowns in the red zone.
The Huskers have 11 touchdown passes in the past two seasons from inside the 20-yard line. Only one other Big Ten program, Rutgers, has fewer. NU lacked a tall, big-bodied receiver who could catch fade passes or run across the back line of the end zone and pluck balls over the hands of defenders.
Neville has that size, as does fellow 2021 commit Shawn Hardy of Georgia. In the 2020 class, NU signed Omar Manning (6-4, 220) and Zavier Betts (6-2, 200) and added South Dakota transfer Levi Falck (6-2, 210). The Husker staff also moved Chris Hickman (6-6, 215) from tight end to receiver.
Neville became the 11th commit in the 2021 class and the first from Texas.
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