The Nebraska football coaching staff got some very bad news on Friday afternoon. In-state prospect Avante Dickerson announced his commitment to the Minnesota Golden Gophers through his Twitter account.
The announcement means that unless they can work on Dickerson over the next few months, they’ve lost the top player in the state to a conference rival. According to 247Sports, the defensive back isn’t just Nebraska’s best player in the 2021 class, but also the eighth-best defensive back in the entire country based on their composite ratings. He’s also the 93rd-ranked player in the country.
As recruiting analysts noted right after the announcement was made, the commitment to the Golden Gophers was a surprise that few saw coming. Part of the reason behind the shock is that Dickerson hasn’t been able to visit Minnesota’s campus. The NCAA is not allowing in-person recruiting because of the coronavirus outbreak, having put such visits on hold since the middle of March.
This could mean Dickerson was convinced to leave Nebraska just from conversations with the Minnesota coaching staff. Virtual recruiting has apparently been something the Gophers’ coaching staff has been doing quite well since COVID-19 changed how schools worked to build their classes.
Dickerson is the school’s fifth commit since March 27 and he’s their third four-star prospect over that same time period. Those commitments have moved the program — which finished the last recruiting cycle as the 38th ranked class, according to 247Sports — up to seventh in the nation for the 2021 cycle.
While recruiting analysts in Nebraska were caught off guard at the timing of the announcement, they did acknowledge the Gophers had been making some inroads. Still, Dickerson wasn’t someone who was expected to be making a commitment to the Cornhuskers — or anywhere else — in the near future.
So far, he’s racked up 25 total offers and many of those were from blue-chip programs — Michigan, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State, and Texas had all come calling.
The loss of Dickerson means the Cornhuskers failed to land one of the best players in the state for the second straight cycle. Last year, the Huskers lost a battle over Xavier Watts, a wide receiver who was considered the second-best recruit in Nebraska.
The difference between Watts and Dickerson is how the players compared to other prospects around the country in general and at their positions. While Dickerson managed to break into the list of top 100 players in 2021, Watts was only the 386th-ranked player in 247‘s ratings a year ago.