Warren Academy Media Day: Notebook
The Warren Academy, which provides training to some of the top high school football players in the Omaha area, hosted a media day on Wednesday at The Mark in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Players from Omaha area high schools like Bellevue West and Creighton Prep along with Lincoln and Iowa athletes attended the event.
Steve Warren, former Husker football player and the founder of the Warren Academy, invited Opendorse to educate the athletes on strengthening their name, image and likeness (NIL). Each player also had their picture taken in their high school's football jersey.
HuskerOnline caught up with several athletes and discussed their recruiting and upcoming football seasons.
North Platte's Vince Genatone has a close relationship with Nebraska inside linebacker coach Barrett Ruud and takes to him weekly. Genatone attended a one-on-one workout with Ruud and impressed the Huskers' coaching staff.
The linebacker hasn't received an offer yet but it is clear NU is still interested even though they aren't taking as many players in the 2022 class.
"They just told me just hang in there with them," he said. "It's kind of hard with this whole COVID thing, it's sort of taken a toll on every single school."
Nebraska isn't the only school interested in Genatone's talents. He went to camps at Cal, Utah State, Utah, Boise State, Washington State and Kansas State and is attending a camp at Kansas on Friday.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound 'backer is focusing on his senior season and looking to take his time on his decision.
Nebraska football commit Gunnar Gottula arrived later in the afternoon with a couple of his Lincoln Southeast teammates after finishing up a very hot full-pads day of camp.
The class of 2023 offensive lineman, who committed at the end of June, said he relieved to be done with the recruiting process and can solely focus on football. Gottula has also become a recruiting of sorts.
Lincoln Southeast and head coach Ryan Gottula, Gunnar's father, also have Nebraska commit Jake Appleget, Nebraska baseball commit and running back Max Buittenback and several other players returning. Gunnar is expecting his team to be just as dangerous as last season.
"Obviously bringing back Jake Appleget, he's going to be our senior leader. He obviously does lots of things for us," Gottula said. "Also returning me and then Teitum and obviously Max Buittenback.
"I think Willem (Reddick) will do good at quarterback even though he didn't start last year. I think he'll do really good. And we've got a lot of guys that will step up this year that didn't start last year and we'll do really good. So it's exciting."
Gottula said he is excited for the high competition level in Lincoln this season and even more excited for the start of Southeast's season on August 26 against Omaha North.
Nebraska legacy 2023 offensive lineman Sam Sledge attended Nebraska's Pipeline camp in June and impressed on both sides of the ball.
"It was a great experience, in the big man camp, the first half I went on defense with coach Tony Tuioti. And I learned a lot from him. Then the second half, I was with coach Greg Austin and he taught me stuff real quick. It was pretty good. I really enjoyed it."
Sledge, the first freshman in history to ever start at Creighton Prep, is the son of Bob Sledge, an All-Big 8 offensive tackle for Nebraska in 1988. He said his father is happy his son is talking with his alma mater.
"He's so excited. My dad has told me everything and he's always been my biggest fan and biggest coach," Sam said. "Every time I go home with him, he's teaching me something new or telling me something I did wrong. It's just great. He's excited for me."
Creighton Prep begins its season on August 27 against rival Omaha Westside and Sledge is pumped for this matchup after Prep lost last season's game. The Junior Jays made several adjustments after that game and found their footing into the season.
"We didn't really know who we were in the first game of the year," Sledge said. "We needed to move people around, I got moved too. Other people got moved around. We just needed to figure out who worked best."
"At Creighton Prep, we're all a big brotherhood and we always clash with Westside," he said. "It's important to us to get that win and the first game of the year. So let's get it started off right."
Bellevue West wide receiver Dae'Vonn Hall has earned offers from Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas State, each coming after his freshman season. At this rate, Hall will be grabbing the attention of many schools across the country.
Hall said learned a lot from Opendorse on NIL and is excited about the opportunity to earn money while doing what he loves. He said he is a very social person who loves to post on social media and gain new followers.
The soon-to-be sophomore most recently earned an offer from Kansas State after a camp on June 27. He said he has also been to camps at Nebraska (Friday Night Lights #2), Iowa and Notre Dame.
Hall visited Iowa on Monday but said it was weird to be a Husker fan in enemy territory.
"As you guys may know, I'm a Nebraska fan," Hall said. "So it's like going to Iowa and seeing their stuff was like "eh, I really don't want to go see it but it's also like 'yes, you should go see it' and honestly, when I got there it was, they were all super chill."
"That's fun, having competition in that too, in recruiting and stuff," Hall said. "Having two great players like they are that came from Bellevue West, it's very fun to be able to interact with them."
Elkhorn South defensive end Maverick Noonan is visiting Nebraska on Friday before heading to Missouri the following week. He has offers from Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan State, Kansas State, Iowa State and Arizona State.
Noonan is planning to step up and become more of a role model for his teammate after the departure of multiple talented players from Elkhorn South.
"We lost a lot of seniors last year like our whole line Teddy Prochazka, Isaac (Zatechka), Cooper (Taylor) and all those types of guys so we're not going to have those veterans on our team but I still think we'll be pretty solid especially on the defensive," he said. "We have pretty good secondary and D line so I think we'll pretty solid this year."
Noonan is a player whose recruiting could blow up with a solid junior season and he is excited to get started.
Lincoln High star Beni Ngoyi has seen his recruitment increase since he showed out Nebraska's first Friday Night Lights camp. The Huskers invited him back to their recruiting BBQ.
He said he has since been in contact with Wyoming, South Dakota, Northern Iowa and Wayne State. He has offers from Northern Iowa and Wayne State, a Division II school in Nebraska.
Ngoyi is one of the many very talented football players in Lincoln to watch this upcoming season. Lincoln East wide receiver Malachi Coleman is another player on this radar.
"I do talk with some of the guys around the city like Malachi Coleman. That's one of my good friends," Ngoyi said. "We like to prove who's faster, who jumps higher, but it's all in fun."
Ngoyi recently jumped 10 feet, 10 inches in the broad jump at Wayne State's camp. He also recorded a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 38.8 inch vertical before receiving an offer from the school.
Gretna quarterback Zane Flores is preparing to start his junior season and has put in a lot of work during the offseason. He said he's been focusing on his speed and agility this summer. Flores feels faster and can see the improvement in his footwork.
Flores has received interest from Iowa State and attended a camp at Northwestern and took a tour of the campus.
The NIL presentation opened Flores's eyes to all the possibles to monetize his name, image and likeness in the future.
"I didn't really realize that popular college and NFL players could make money with every Instagram post and all that," he said. "So that was pretty cool to hear about."
As for this upcoming season, Gretna lost a few key players however their quarterback has confidence in his team.
"We'll have guys that will fill in nicely in their spots and I think we'll be able to make a run," he said.
2023 Lewis Central running back Jonathan Humpal is one of the several Titans that were at the Warren Academy event on Wednesday. Nebraska has a special connection with Lewis Central through tight end Thomas Fidone was a star for the Titans.
Humpal attended Nebraska's Friday Night Lights camp and said he took a tour of the campus.
"They went really well until I hurt my knee to the camp," he said but added he's fully healthy now. "I liked it a lot. Really high energy. The coaches are really positive. A lot of competition and a lot of great players."
The athlete said his former teammates including Fidone and Iowa State commit Hunter Deyo are each putting in a good word for their schools.
2022 tight end Brayden Loftin is very familiar with Fidone because the duo worked very closely together and Loftin became Lewis Central's No. 1 tight end after Fidone departed.
"I've talked to (Fidone) a little bit about (Nebraska) and he's loving it," Loftin said. "He's obviously getting himself right, right now with his injury and stuff, but he's gonna be a monster."
Loftin visited Kansas State on June 22 and committed before he left campus.
"That's a great place. great coaches, the team has a bunch of great guys. And they got a really special thing going on there," he said. "I'm excited to get down there."
Texas and Oklahoma's announcement of their intentions to leave the Big 12 is likely to send the reason of the league spiraling and Kansas State could be one of those teams.
"It's something that I've thought about, but I'm gonna go down there and play football, regardless of what happens," he said. "Kansas State's gonna play big-time football and we're gonna be a big-time team."
Defensive tackle Hunter Deyo is another Lewis Central football player who earned a lot of attention and found the place for himself at Iowa State.
Deyo like many Lewis Central players benefited from the amount of attention Fidone and other highly recruited teammates brought to his games.
"Thomas had a big impact on my career, same as Max Duggan and same as Logan Jones," he said. "They all have an impact on my career, especially to open the eyes to all the coaches."
The soon-to-senior said Iowa State not only appealed to him but too his family.
"Coach Campbell is a great guy, great coach. When he sat me and my mom, my family and everybody down when I went to my official visit, he put tears in my mom's eyes, which helped me make my final decision," Deyo said. "It just brought me to the conclusion that I wanted to be there."
With the returning talent Lewis Central has in Deyo, Loftin, Humpal and more, the Titans will likely continue to do damage in Iowa high school football.