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The 2000 class
Click on the player's name to see the athletic department's information on him. "Rivals" info indicates the player is ranked nationally at his position by Rivals100.
4 Willie Amos, ROV, 6-2. 185, Sweetwater, TX
3 Jake Andersen, OG, 6-2, 300, Littleton, CO (Mullen)  (Rivals #28)
1 Manaia Brown, RE, 6-4, 280, Granger, UT (Rivals #18)
2 Terrell Butler, CB, 5-11, 195, Austell, GA (Pebblebrook) (Rivals #27)
2 Thunder Collins, IB, 6-2, 200, Los Angeles, CA (Manual Arts H.S., East Los Angeles College) 
4 Ira Cooper, SLB, 6-2, 220, Omaha, NE (Westside) (Rivals #16)
3 Sandro DeAngelis, K, 5-9, 200,  Niagara Falls, ONT (St. Joseph's Collegiate, NY) (Rivals #15)
4 Mike Erickson, OG, 6-4, 275,  Omaha, NE (Papillion-La Vista)  (Rivals #26)
0 M.J. Flaum, OT, 6-4, 295, Westminster, CO (Northglenn) (Rivals #18)
4 T.J. Hollowell, SLB, 6-1, 215, Copperas Cove, Texas  (Rivals #64)
1 Lanny Hopkins, WLB, 6-1, 195, Rowlett, Texas (Rivals #54)
4 Steve Kriewald, FB, 5-11, 250, Scotia, NE (North Loup-Scotia)
0 DeWayne Long Jr., WB, 6-0, 200, West Des Moines, IA (Dowling)
0 Alvin "Randy" Marshall, WB, 5-11, 180, Los Angeles, CA (Locke)
4 Lornell McPherson, CB, 5-10, 175, Omaha, NE (Central)  (Rivals #9)
3 Ross Pilkington, WR, 6-1, 185, Fort Collins, CO (Loveland)
3 Nick Povendo, OT, 6-5, 310, Keller, Texas  (Rivals #53)
1 Jason Richenberger, WLB, 6-1, 200, Liberty, Mo. (Rivals #13)
1 Chris Septak, TE, 6-4, 245, Omaha, NE (Millard West) (Rivals #2)
4 Benard Thomas, RE, 6-4, 235, East Palo Alto, CA (St. Francis)  (Rivals #28)
3 Ben Zajicek, WB, 6-0, 200, Beatrice, NE 

1 Letter(s) earned

• 51 letters earned by 18 of 21 recruits
• All-America: 0
• All-conference: 0

Nebraska's class was generally rated just outside the top 10. Signing-day coverage: Husker Press Box (1, 2, 3), Daily Nebraskan (1, 2, 3, 4), Dallas Morning News.


Willie Amos
DB...6-2...185...Sweetwater, Texas (Sweetwater)
Willie Amos played Class 4A (second largest) football at Sweetwater (Texas) High School. He is one of four players from the state of Texas to sign a national letter-of-intent with the Huskers in 2000. Playing for Coach Hank Dowell, Amos was a running back, but will most likely switch to defensive back at Nebraska. Amos was named all-district and all-state as a senior and to the Texas Top 100 list as he rushed for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns on 188 attempts. He made the Texas All-Star team that competed in the Outback Bowl in Australia last summer. Amos is a member of the national and world champion jump rope team, competing in the double-dutch event. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Amos chose Nebraska over Texas Christian. The son of Rev. John and Pamela Hamilton, Willie was born on July 28, 1982.

Jake Andersen
OL...6-2...300...Littleton, Colo. (J.K. Mullen)
A guard and center for Mullen High School, Jake Andersen is listed among the Top 100 offensive linemen in the country by Rivals100.com Magazine and is a PrepStar All-American, ranking as that publication's 10th-best offensive lineman. SuperPrep lists Andersen at No. 61 on their All-Midlands list for all positions. Playing for Coach Mick McCall, Andersen earned all-state honors from the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News as a senior right guard and helped lead Mullen to a league championship and the state quarterfinals, averaging 10 pancakes per game. In 1998, Andersen helped lead Mullen (Class 5A, largest classification) to a state title. Andersen has recorded a 380-pound bench press, a 650-pound squat lift and a power clean of 300 pounds. He also competes in the shot (best of 55-0) and discus (best of 150-0) for the track team. Andersen picked Nebraska over Colorado, Colorado State and Southern California, but only visited Nebraska. He said, 'Nebraska is a great fit for me in terms of the offensive line style of play. I really liked the fan support--there is nothing like it anywhere else in the country.' The son of Keith and Debbie Andersen, Jacob Keith (Jake) was born on Aug. 10, 1982. He enjoys fishing, camping and lifting weights in his free time.

Manaia Brown
RE...6-4...280...Salt Lake City, Utah (Granger)
A three-time all-state defensive lineman for Coach Ray Groth at Granger High School in Salt Lake City, Manaia (pronounced Man-EYE-uh) Brown is listed as the No. 20 defensive lineman in the country by Rivals100.com Magazine and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. In 1999, Brown had 25 quarterback sacks and more than 70 tackles, earning all-state honors and SuperPrep All-America honors as the 47th-best defensive lineman. Brown was named the Region II Most Valuable Player. He is the second NU football signee out of Utah in the last two years, joining freshman defensive tackle Ryon Bingham, who redshirted in 1999. Brown has been clocked at 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and will most likely settle at rush end, but has the size to play defensive tackle for the Huskers. Brown picked Nebraska over Arizona State, Brigham Young, Utah, Texas Tech and Washington State. He said, 'I liked how organized the football program is. I love the coaching staff and I know I can become a better player and a better person at Nebraska.' The son of Vaifoa and Toa Brown, Manaia was born on July 17, 1981, in Honolulu, Hawaii, but is Samoan. He knows Bingham and is friends with Toniu Fonoti, after attending Kahuku High School's senior prom in Hauula, Hawaii, where he first met Fonoti.

Terrell Butler
DB...5-11...195...Austell, Ga. (Pebblebrook)
One of the best receivers to come out this year, Terrell Butler is a member of SuperPrep's National Top 50 team (No. 50) and is listed as the same publication's fifth-best DB and the third-best overall player out of Georgia. After being named a preseason All-American by three different publications, PrepStar lists Butler as the fifth-best DB in the Southeast and as a postseason All-American as well. Butler played both sides of the ball for Coach Chuck Stines at Pebblebrook High School (Class 4A, largest classification). In 1999, Butler made more than 25 receptions for approximately 600 yards and scored five touchdowns. He also scored on a kickoff return and earned first-team all-county on offense. As a cornerback, Butler was first-team all-conference with 21 solo tackles and two interceptions. A speedster, he has run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and also runs track posting a 10.4 best in the 100 meters and a 21.7 in the 200 meters. Butler took official visits to Nebraska, Boston College, and Tulane, but was also recruited by Michigan, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Iowa, Mississippi State, Clemson and South Carolina. Butler said, 'I like the close relationship the coaches and players have and the opportunity to play early in my career. Plus, Nebraska has a good business school and the resources for me to do well academically.' The son of Terry and Dorothy Butler, Terrell was born on April 25, 1982.

Thunder Collins
Sophomore...Running back...6-2...200...Los Angeles, Calif. (Played for East Los Angeles College/Graduated from West Los Angeles College/Manual Arts High School)
Thunder Collins was a junior college All-American in 1998 and is the only running back in Nebraska's 2000 class. Collins is listed as the 24th-best junior college player by SuperPrep and among the PrepStar Super (Juco) 75. Collins played as a freshman for Coach Rick Gamboa at East Los Angeles Junior College, where he rushed for 1,548 yards in 10 games with 23 touchdowns. He also had 600 receiving yards for more than 2,100 yards of total offense. He earned his associate's degree in December from West Los Angeles College and after redshirting in 1999, will have three years remaining at Nebraska. Collins, whose real first name is Thunder, is considered one of the top five junior college running backs in the country according to the National Recruiting Advisor and was named a Juco All-American by three publications. Timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Collins rushed for 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and earned prep All-America honors. Collins was also recruited by Wisconsin, Oregon, Auburn and Washington State. Collins said he chose Nebraska, 'Because I really liked the coaching staff and academic program. Nebraska is a running school and that is what I was looking for.' The son of Thunder Collins Sr., and Sonia Oden, Thunder's stepfather is John Craig. He plans to major in sociology and was born on Sept. 17, 1979, in Los Angeles.

Ira Cooper
LB...6-2...220...Omaha, Neb. (Westside)
One of six native Nebraskans in the class, Ira Cooper was a first-team Super-State (Lincoln Journal Star) and an All-Nebraska linebacker (Omaha World-Herald) playing for Coach Larry Morrissey at Omaha Westside. As a junior, Cooper rushed for 1,578 yards and 18 touchdowns while leading Class A in per-game rushing average and earned all-state honors. Playing both sides of the ball since his freshman year, Cooper also had 37 tackles and three interceptions playing defensive back and some linebacker in 1998. He moved to linebacker his senior year to help his offensive production. Although he was injured much of his senior year, Cooper was a PrepStar All-American and was the 45th-best player overall on the SuperPrep All-Midlands team. He was also an honorable-mention All-American by USA Today. Cooper committed to the Huskers in June after attending a Husker football camp. He also runs the 300 hurdles, earning all-state honors as a freshman and sophomore, with a best time of 37.6. He did not compete in track last year, but will this spring. The son of Harley and Edie Cooper, Ira was born on Sept. 30, 1981. Harley Cooper was a national Golden Gloves boxing champion in 1964. His older brother, Michael, was a 1992 All-Nebraska linebacker at Westside who went on to play at Iowa State. Ira, the youngest of 15 children, was also contacted by Ohio State, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida State, Penn State and Notre Dame, but only visited Nebraska. He said, 'Nebraska is the best place for me. It is pointless to go out of state when everything I want and need to succeed is right here at home. Nebraska is the best place in the country.' Cooper intends to major in pre-law.

Sandro DeAngelis
PK/P...5-9...200...Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (St. Joseph's Collegiate, Buffalo, N.Y.)
One of Nebraska's first commitments, Sandro DeAngelis committed to the Huskers in June, without having made an official trip. He made his decision after attending one of the Nebraska summer football camps. DeAngelis played fullback and linebacker for Coach Bob O'Connor and served as St. Joseph's punter and place-kicker. St. Joseph's Collegiate is in Buffalo, N.Y., but DeAngelis resides in nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (35-minute drive). As a junior fullback, DeAngelis rushed for 1,821 yards and 22 TDs and was named the Buffalo News Player of the Year and earned first-team all-state in the large-school division. He was also all-league, his team's MVP and team captain, and was named the Western New York Player of the Year. He scored 184 points for St. Joseph's, leading the team to a perfect 10-0 record, but the Catholic schools in that system are not allowed to compete in the state championship playoffs. He was 37-40 on PATs, hit five field goals and averaged 42 yards per punt. He set a school-record with an 84-yard punt inside the Carrier Dome and recorded 118 tackles. Although he was injured his senior year (sprained left ankle), DeAngelis earned first-team all-state honors as a kicker, hitting four field goals (three in one game). He rushed for 600 yards and nine TDs in four games, did not play defense, and kicked 70 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone. A preseason All-American, DeAngelis is listed as the No. 1 recruit in Canada by Bill Passel's Canadian Recruiters. DeAngelis was an All-American as listed by PrepStar, was the No. 2 kicker in the East by the same publication and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. His longest field goal was 46 yards as a sophomore. Averaging 95 percent over the past four years, DeAngelis is a member of his school's Collegiate Scholars Club, a National Honor Society member, and earned academic All-Western New York honors. He hopes to major in sports medicine. A strong, versatile athlete, DeAngelis squats 500 pounds and benches close to 400. He won the Canadian Football League Punt, Pass and Kick Championship as an eighth grader. He picked the Huskers over Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and nearly 'all of the Ivy League schools,' but only visited Nebraska. He said, 'Nebraska has always been my team and as soon as they offered me a scholarship--it was a no-brainer. I always wanted to go to Nebraska. They have a great tradition, great people, outstanding support and the best facilities.' The son of Joseph and Carmela DeAngelis, Sandro was born on May 1, 1981. His family lived in Naples, Italy, until 1971. DeAngelis is the third Canadian to sign with the Huskers in three years, joining Dahrran Diedrick (redshirt freshman I-back from Toronto) and Patrick Kabongo (true freshman defensive tackle from Montreal, who redshirted in 1999).

Mike Erickson
OL...6-4...275...Omaha, Neb. (Papillion-La Vista)
Erickson is one of six native Nebraskans in the class. He comes to the Huskers via Papillion-La Vista, following in the footsteps of NU sophomore defensive tackle Jeremy Slechta. Erickson was a two-year starter for coach Gene Suhr on the offensive line, playing beside Slechta for two years. A Lincoln Journal Star Super-State honoree as an offensive lineman and the Omaha World-Herald Honorary offensive captain and All-Nebraska honoree, Erickson accepted a scholarship offer after attending Big Red Football School. Erickson also played defensive end his senior year. He was an All-American by SuperPrep as its 30th-best offensive lineman and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. He also played basketball. Erickson was also recruited by Colorado State, Iowa State and Iowa. The son of Dave and Sue Erickson, Mike was born on May 8, 1982.

M.J. Flaum
OL...6-4...295...Westminster, Colo. (Northglenn)
One of four offensive linemen in the class, M.J. Flaum ranks as the nation's No. 18 offensive lineman, according to the National Recruiting advisor. Flaum helped lead Northglenn to an 8-2 record and the state playoffs in 1998 and to a 9-1 record in 1999, playing for Coach Scott Gallas. Flaum earned first-team all-state honors as a senior offensive tackle and was an All-American as named by SuperPrep, Student Sports and PrepStar. SuperPrep lists Flaum as its 29th-best offensive lineman overall. He also played nose guard. Northglenn (Class 5A, largest classification) won the Front Range League in Flaum's senior year. Flaum, who earned all-conference and all-region honors as an offensive tackle, maintained a 3.8 grade-point average throughout high school. He also competed in track, winning the state shot put title as a junior with a throw of 56-3 and had a personal-best 172-10 mark in the discus. Flaum was recruited by Colorado, Colorado State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oklahoma, but only visited Nebraska. He said, 'The thing that pushed me over the edge in favor of Nebraska was the coaching staff. They are first class and I have a lot of respect for them. I liked the way they handled themselves in the entire recruiting process. Then, of course, I also liked Nebraska's facilities, players and the game atmosphere.' The son of Martin Sr., and Margaret Flaum, M.J. (Martin Jr.,) was born on June 3, 1982, in Northglenn, but lived in Texas for three years (age 6-8). The Flaum family is friends with Bill Kosch and his son, Jesse, who both played for the Huskers. Flaum follows fellow Coloradans Josh Davis (Loveland) and Shaun Coleman (Littleton) who signed letters of intent with NU last year.

T.J. Hollowell
LB...6-1...215...Copperas Cove, Texas (Copperas)
T.J. Hollowell was a standout linebacker for Coach Jack Welch at 5A (largest classification) Copperas Cove High School in Texas. He had 159 tackles and three sacks for the Bulldogs in 1999. Hollowell was an all-district honoree as a safety in 1997 and as an outside linebacker in 1998, then moved to middle linebacker in 1999 where he earned first-team all-state honors. Hollowell was named to Texas Top 100 Team and to the SuperPrep All-Southwest and PrepStar All-Midlands regional teams. He is one of four players from the state of Texas to sign a national letter-of-intent with the Huskers in 2000. With good speed, Hollowell also runs track and has run the 100-yard dash in 10.7 seconds and the 40 in 4.5. He chose Nebraska over Texas, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Miami. The son of Renee Hollowell, T.J. (Thomas Anthony) was born on April 8, 1981.

Lannie Hopkins
LB...6-1...195...Rowlett, Texas (Rowlett)
Lannie Hopkins is one of five linebackers in the 2000 class, as the Huskers look to replace four departed senior linebackers from the 1999 team. The MVP in his district, Hopkins was a second-team all-state pick as a linebacker in 1999 and earned honorable-mention district honors as a tight end. A three-year starter, Hopkins totaled 340 career tackles and earned all-district honors for three straight years. As a senior, Hopkins made 152 tackles (85 solo). He was a SuperPrep All-American and was listed as the ninth-best player overall in Texas and the 18th-best linebacker in the country by the same publication. A former corner and safety (freshman and sophomore years), Hopkins has been timed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and competes in the 4 x 100 relay and the 110 hurdles in track. Listed among the Texas Top 100 recruits as a linebacker, Hopkins was recruited by 'everyone in he Big 12' and picked Nebraska after visiting Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Memphis. Hopkins said, 'I had a good feeling when I visited Nebraska. I think I will fit in well there.' He is one of four players from the state of Texas to sign a national letter-of-intent with the Huskers in 2000. Hopkins did not play organized football until his freshman season. The son of Lannie and Dorothy Hopkins, Lannie was born on July 25, 1980, in Dallas. He is from the same hometown as former Husker kicker Byron Bennett (1990-93), but attended Rowlett High School (new in 1996), while Bennett graduated from Lakeview Centennial. Coach Tommy Watkins coached at both schools.

Steve Kriewald
FB...5-11...250...Scotia, Neb. (North Loup-Scotia)
Steve Kriewald (pronounced KREE-wald) was a standout linebacker and fullback for Coach Troy Unzicker at North Loup-Scotia High School. Recruited as a fullback, he is the only signee in the 2000 class to have played eight-man football and is believed to be the fourth in-state recruit to play eight-man football, earn a scholarship immediately after high school, and play for NU (in the Tom Osborne/Frank Solich era), joining Terry Connealy (Hyannis, 1990), Lance Lundberg (Wausau, 1989) and Dean Steinkuhler (Sterling, 1978). Kriewald earned first-team all-state honors from the Lincoln Journal Star for his class and was the Class D-2 LJS Offensive Player of the Year. The Omaha World-Herald named Kriewald to its All-Nebraska team on defense. He was also named to PrepStar's All-Midlands Region Team leading North Loup-Scotia to the state playoffs each of the four years he lettered. As a senior, Kriewald rushed for 1,117 yards on 169 attempts and 15 touchdowns and was named to USA Today's Honorable-Mention All-America team. He also made 11 receptions for 84 yards. He had 75 solo tackles on defense, 94 assists, one sack and 12 tackles for loss and was one of 21 finalists for the Wendy's Nebraska Heisman Award. The Grand Island Independent named Kriewald to its All-Heartland team for four years as he totaled 589 career tackles. As a junior, he also earned all-state honors, rushing for 655 yards and 10 touchdowns and making 208 tackles with 26 tackles for loss. He picked Nebraska over Colorado, Notre Dame and Michigan, and was also recruited by several Division I schools for track. Kriewald could join the list of current Husker football players who are also going out for track (Scott Aguglia, Josh Brown, Keyuo Craver, John Gibson, Tim Liley, Dwayne McClary, Bobby Newcombe, Jerrel Pippens, Randy Stella, Erwin Swiney) and Matt Davison (also competes for the basketball team) as two-sport athletes if he decides to compete for the NU track team. He only visited Nebraska and attended the past two Big Red Football Schools. Kriewald said, 'Being from Nebraska, it has always been my dream to play for the Huskers. Nebraska has the best strength program and is always in contention for national titles.' He is also the power forward for his basketball team averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds per game and won the state shot put last season with a Class D state record 61-7 1/2 throw, earning the all-class gold medal. The son of Gordan and Phyllis Kriewald, Steve plans to major in construction management. He was born on Sept. 4, 1981, in Ord, Neb.

DeWayne Long
WR...6-0...200...West Des Moines, Iowa (Dowling)
DeWayne Long comes to the Huskers from West Des Moines, Iowa where he played for Dowling High School and Coach Matt Dillon. Long is an excellent athlete, having earned honors in football, basketball, track and baseball. Long has expressed interest in also playing hardball for the Huskers. Recruited to Nebraska as a wingback, Long was a running back in high school. As a junior at Dowling High, Long rushed for 581 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing three games with an ankle sprain. Long has been timed with a 4.5 electronic 40-yard dash time. He has a 32-inch vertical jump, can squat lift 425 pounds and bench press 305 pounds. Long broke the 2,000 point barrier in the Performance Index during the Big Red Football School. He is the only signee from Iowa in this season's class. Long was listed as the 46th best player on SuperPrep's All-Midlands team. Long was recruited by Notre Dame, Kansas State, Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa, Iowa State and many others. He committed to the Huskers in June after attending the Big Red Football School. The son of DeWayne and Lesa Long, DeWayne was born on Sept. 11, 1981 in Omaha. He moved to Ames, Iowa when he was two months old, but still has grandparents and extended family in Omaha.

Alvin (Randy) Marshall
WR...5-11...180...Los Angeles, Calif. (Locke)
Committing on Feb. 1, Alvin (often goes by Randy) Marshall comes to the Huskers from Los Angeles where he played for Coach E. C. Robinson at Locke High School. Marshall is listed as the No. 10 running back in the West Region by PrepStar Magazine. As a senior, Marshall rushed for 1,128 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back, but was recruited to Nebraska as a wingback. He was also recruited by Oregon and Colorado. The son of Marcus and Cynthia Taylor, Alvin was born on July 31, 1982.

Lornell McPherson
DB...5-10...175...Omaha, Neb. (Central)
Committing to Nebraska last summer after attending Big Red Football School, Lornell McPherson is one of six native Nebraskans in the class. He earned All-America honors from PrepStar and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. Playing for Coach Joe McMenamin at Omaha Central, McPherson also earned Super-State honors from the Lincoln Journal Star as a defensive back and All-Nebraska first-team honors from the Omaha World-Herald as a running back. He is also a member of the state's all-time best 400-meter relay team. With great cover speed (4.57 electronic 40-yard dash) and a 39-inch vertical jump, McPherson was recruited as a defensive back. He picked Nebraska over Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado State. The son of John McPherson and Lula McPherson, Lornell was born on June 24, 1981.

Ross Pilkington
WR...6-1...185...Fort Collins, Colo. (Loveland)
Pilkington was named to the SuperPrep and PrepStar all-region teams after a stellar two-year career at Loveland High School. He attended Fort Collins High School as a freshman and sophomore. Despite only playing part of his senior season because of a torn MCL, Pilkington was an all-state wide receiver playing for Coach John Poovey and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. In his career as a receiver and return specialist, Pilkington totaled more than 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns, averaging more than 30 yards per touch. Also a free safety, Pilkington has good speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. He picked Nebraska over Colorado State, Colorado, Oregon and Arizona State and is one of three signees in the Huskers' 2000 class from the state of Colorado (also Jake Andersen, Littleton, and M.J. Flaum, Westminster). He committed to NU in June. He is a former teammate of Josh Davis, an I-back who signed with NU last season and redshirted in 1999. Pilkington is also a three-time all-state shortstop and is listed among the top 100 prospects in the West for the upcoming June baseball draft. He is interested in playing baseball for the Big 12 Champion Huskers after hitting .710 last summer. The son of Greg and Jacque Pilkington, Ross was born on July 21, 1981.

Nick Povendo
OL...6-5...305...Keller, Texas (Keller)
Playing for Coach Ken Mizell at Keller High School, Nick Povendo is one of four players from the state of Texas to sign a national letter-of-intent with the Huskers in 2000. A member of the Texas Top 100 list, Povendo is an All-American as named by SuperPrep and PrepStar and is listed as SuperPrep's 12th-best offensive lineman overall. He also earned honorable-mention All-America honors by USA Today. Povendo helped clear the way this fall for two running backs who gained more than 2,000 rushing yards. Serving as a team captain, Povendo was the team's most valuable player on offense. He earned all-state and super-state honors and was listed by Dave Campbell's recruiting service as the No. 2 lineman in Texas. An excellent athlete, Povendo was also the goalkeeper for the Keller High soccer team his freshman and sophomore years. An avid weight lifter, Povendo can dead lift 600 pounds, bench press 355 and squat 515. He currently leads the region in power lifting. At 6-5, 305 pounds, he boasts a 4.9 time in the 40-yard dash. Povendo picked Nebraska over scholarship offers from Tennessee, Colorado, Syracuse, Purdue, Texas Christian and Baylor. He said, 'UNL has a great tradition in the classroom and on the football field. The coaches and players made me feel like I was home. I always wanted to be a part of a team where everyone believes in the same thing. I am anxious to get to Nebraska and be a part of the team.' The son of Mike and Kay Povendo, Nick was born on June 9, 1981, in Clarksville, Tenn., and moved to Mansfield, Texas, when he was 18 months old. He enjoys hunting, shooting skeet and fishing. He plans to major in agriculture.

Jason Richenberger
LB...6-1...200...Liberty, Mo. (Liberty)
Nebraska's second commitment, Jason Richenberger said yes to the Huskers in May, 1999. He attended the Big Red Football School in June. Richenberger is a prep All-American as listed by SuperPrep and PrepStar, is the 43rd-best player and third-best high school linebacker this year according to SuperPrep and earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. Richenberger gained national attention after attending three Nike camps last summer. He has been timed at 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has a 34-inch vertical jump. One of the top sprinters in Missouri, he boasts a school-record time of 10.78 in the 100 meters and had a 22.0 in the 200 meters as part of Liberty's 400 and 800 meter relays. An avid lifter, he can bench press 335 pounds and squat lift 385. Richenberger played five games as a junior linebacker for Coach Dan Anderson recording 80 tackles. He missed four games with a virus. Richenberger picked the Huskers over Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa. He said, 'I just love the Nebraska program.' The son of Randy and Becky Richenberger, Jason was born on May 6, 1982.

Chris Septak
TE...6-4...245...Omaha, Neb. (Millard West)
Nebraska's first oral commitment, Chris Septak indicated he would sign with the Huskers in February, 1999. One of the most decorated signees, tight end Septak is an All-American according to Rivals100.com, PrepStar and SuperPrep. He also earned honorable-mention All-America honors from USA Today. Septak is listed as the No. 2, No. 5 and No. 9 best tight end by the same publications, respectively. He was a Lincoln Journal Star Super-State honoree and the LJS defensive player of the year. The Omaha World-Herald named him to its All-Nebraska defensive team as well. He was a member of the Gatorade Circle of Champions as Nebraska's player of the year. In the summer, Septak attended the Big Red Football School. Although he had just 12 catches for 200 yards in 1999, Septak emerged as one of the best tight ends this season, partly because of his dominating blocking skills. Septak is one of six native Nebraskans to sign with the Huskers in 2000 and one of four from Omaha. All four from Omaha come from different high schools, with Septak playing for Coach Dan McLaughlin at Millard West. The son of Larry and Debra Septak, Chris was born on Oct. 15, 1981.

Benard Thomas
RE...6-4...235...East Palo Alto, Calif. (St. Francis)
Benard Thomas is a speedy linebacker who is expected to play at rush end for the Huskers. With a 4.62 40-yard dash time, Thomas is a SuperPrep All-American and is listed as the 18th- best player to come out of the far West by the same publication. Thomas was a standout linebacker for Coach Mike Mitchell at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., and helped lead his team to a 10-2 record in 1999. He had nearly 100 tackles, six quarterback sacks and rushed for 430 yards. He also ran hurdles for the track team. Thomas picked the Huskers over USC and Arizona. He said, 'I want to be a champion and Nebraska is the place to go for the best in college football in the country. They are the best team almost every year.' Thomas was a Big Red Football School attendee. The son of Valerie Robinson, Benard was born on April 10, 1981.

Ben Zajicek
WR...6-0...200...Beatrice, Neb. (Beatrice)
From Beatrice, Ben Zajicek (pronounced ZIE-check) is one of six native Nebraskans in the Huskers' 2000 recruiting class. Zajicek earned honorable-mention Class B all-state honors from the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald on offense and was ranked No. 54 on the SuperPrep All-Midlands team for all positions. He was a three-year starter for Coach Dallas Jensen at I-back and free safety and also played some at wingback and cornerback. Although he missed four games with a shoulder injury, Zajicek rushed for 777 yards on 142 carries and was among the top tacklers on the team in the games he played. He helped Beatrice to its first winning season in five years as the Orangemen finished 5-4 in 1999. Zajicek had a 3.0 GPA and was awarded the school's Roger Wood Memorial Trophy for his efforts on and off the field. A speedster, Zajicek has been timed electronically in the 40-yard dash at 4.35 and has run a 10.47 in the 100 meters. He competes in the sprint relays for his track team. Zajicek enjoys running, hunting and lifting weights in his spare time and can bench press 330 pounds, squat 510 and has a best of 365 pounds in the power clean. Zajicek picked Nebraska over Iowa State and Kansas State, but only visited NU. He said, 'I am really excited and can't wait to get started. I love the tradition at Nebraska, the coaches are up front and honest and the support staff is the best in the country. I've wanted to be a Husker since I was a kid. This is a dream come true.' Born on May, 14, 1981, Ben is the son of Jeff and Teri Zajicek. He plans to major in exercise science with a minor in physical education.