Nebraska Football: Illinois nabs Huskers’ PWO target

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema reacts(Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)
Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema reacts(Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Illinois Fighting Illini grabbed a tight end prospect that Nebraska football coaches had hoped would end up a preferred walk-on in Lincoln.

One of the most interesting side effects of high school talent in Nebraska seemingly getting better by the year is that more and more schools are coming in to poach players that would normally be headed to the Huskers. Most of those would be headed to the Huskers as preferred walk-ons in fact.

Nebraska football is apparently facing a new reality these days. Especially when it comes to some of its Big Ten breathren. Matt Rhule and company learned that lesson again on Wednesday when Tanner Hollinger announced a commitment to Bret Bielema and Illinois.

With that announcement, Hollinger ruled out the option of joining the Nebraska football as a preferred walk-on. That had to be a bit of a surprise for some Husker fans. It might have even been a surprise to Husker coaches.

After all, before the Illini came calling, Hollinger did not have a Power 5 offer. Of course, he did have plenty of FBS schools come calling, including Northern Illinois, UAB, and all the service academies.

Perhaps with that many G5 offers, the Nebraska football team shouldn’t have expected the 3-star tight end from Cross Country High to choose to stay in Lincoln and pay his own way. But it’s still a bit of a surprise the Illini gave him an offer. Especially since this situation didn’t seem to be another Tedddy Rezac issue where Rhule just waited too long. Hollinger didn’t seem to have an offer on the horizon.

Nebraska football PWO target goes to Illinois

Other than losing a guy that the Nebraska football team was hoping would be a PWO to Illinois, the most interesting aspect of this commitment is that Illinois is coming hard after Nebraska prospects.

Hollinger is the second commitment from the state to go to Illinois in the last week. Caleb Pyfrom appears to have opened this particular pipeline. Pyfrom was the first Nebraska kid to take a scholarship with Illinois since 1917. Now there are two.