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Husker Baseball Announces Signing Class

Husker Baseball Announces Signing Class
Courtesy/NU Media Relations

Lincoln – University of Nebraska Baseball Coach Will Bolt unveiled the Huskers’ 2020 Fall Signing Class Thursday afternoon. The class includes nine high school seniors who have signed a National Letter-of-Intent and five walk-ons who will join the Husker program in the fall 2021 semester.

Nine of the 14 players are in-state products, including seven of the top 10 high school seniors in the state according to Perfect Game. Bolt has emphasized the importance of keeping the top in-state talent at home since taking over the Husker program in June of 2019.

“Having a sound recruiting plan always starts in your own backyard, and making sure you evaluate the guys that are going to be a great fit from a talent and makeup standpoint for your program,” Bolt said. “We feel like we were able to hit the jackpot within the state of Nebraska to identify so many quality players who could really help set the tone of what Nebraska baseball is all about. These guys are hard-nosed, talented gamers who come to play every day. I think there is some really good balance in the state as you look to build a roster. All of these guys have played together in some form or fashion. They know each other and will push each other to get better once they get on campus.”

The class, which features players from six states and Canada, reminds Bolt a little of the 1998 class that was the cornerstone of the Huskers’ success in the early 2000s.

“I think you just look at the makeup of the best teams that have ever played here at Nebraska, and they have a lot of similarities to this class,” Bolt said. “We had a lot of in-state talent and you add from surrounding states and tap into your resources in other parts of the country and even into Canada.”

“Putting together a class like this during a pandemic takes a lot of effort, and I appreciate the dedication and hard work that Coach Harvell and Coach Christy have put in over the past year in prioritizing recruiting and building a high-quality class which is the lifeblood for sustained success for Husker baseball.”

“I’m incredibly excited about this class and proud of the job our staff did putting it together,” Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Lance Harvell said. “In spite of all of the challenges over the last nine months, we were able to execute our game plan on the recruiting trail. We kept the best players in the state of Nebraska here at home and then were able to go out and add the best hitters across five different states and one of, if not the, best hitters in Canada.

“This group is held in very high regard nationally, and for good reason. Every one of them is ranked in the top five in their respective state, and all are top 500 players nationally. There’s a lot of talent in this group and they fit what we want to do from an offensive standpoint. This group has strength and speed from top to bottom, which are the two things we look for first and foremost in a position player. A lot of times you have to trade one for the other but not with this class. It’s a physical group of guys that definitely pass the eye test and are ahead of the curve from the standpoint of physicality and athleticism.

“What really puts them over the top though is that they are all high character kids who like to work. They all come from great families and we’re excited and proud that they chose to become a part of ours here at Nebraska.”

“A couple of things stand out when looking at our 2020 class of pitchers, but one in particular is that all of them are athletes,” said Pitching Coach Jeff Christy. “Many of them played two or three sports in high school and that is something that we look for in pitchers. We want them to move well and you can get a good idea of that when watching them play other sports.  You will see balance from both the right and left side, almost an even 50/50 split. Balance is something that we look for in putting a staff together which allows us flexibility and versatility when putting game plans together against opposing teams. There is a good mix of power arms along with guys that have a good sense of how to pitch. Lastly, this group of pitchers has the ability to throw the ball over the plate and challenge hitters within the strike zone. We are excited to welcome this group to Husker Nation!”

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. B/T Hometown (Previous Schools)
Jackson Brockett LHP/1B 6-1 195 L/L Omaha, Neb. (Elkhorn South/Buford [Ga.] HS)
Josh Caron C 6-0 200 R/R Sun Prairie, Wis. (Sun Prairie HS)
Drew Christo RHP 6-5 230 L/R Elkhorn, Neb. (Elkhorn HS)
CJ Hood RHP 6-4 190 R/R Hickman, Neb. (Norris HS)
Luke Jessen OF 5-9 170 L/L Elkhorn, Neb. (South HS)
Core Jackson INF 6-1 180 L/R Lambton, Ontario (Central Collegiate)
Chase Mason OF/RHP 6-4 215 L/R Hurley, S.D. (Viborg-Hurley HS)
Max Petersen INF 6-1 180 L/R Lincoln, Neb. (Southwest HS)
Kyler Randazzo UTL 6-1 215 R/R Omaha, Neb. (Elkhorn HS)

Preferred Walk Ons

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. B/T Hometown (Previous School)
Jadon Arakaki OF 6-0 185 L/R Honolulu, Hawaii (Iolani School)
Chandler Benson LHP 6-0 180 L/L Frisco, Texas (Liberty HS)
Matthew Guthmiller 1B/LHP 6-1 190 L/L Omaha, Neb. (Millard South HS)
Corbin Hawkins RHP 6-2 190 R/R Omaha, Neb. (Millard West HS)
Gabe Swansen INF 5-11 190 R/R Johnston, Iowa (Johnston HS)

Signees

Jackson Brockett
Brockett is rated as the top left-hander in the state according to Perfect Game. Brockett, who transferred to Buford High (Ga.) School had a busy summer, splitting time between the Nebraska Prospects and the East Cobb (Ga.) Astros. He helped East Cobb win the inaugural 17U National Team Championships at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, fanning seven over four shutout innings of relief in the championship game. Brockett was a two-way standout at Elkhorn South as a sophomore in 2019, going 4-1 with 39 strikeouts in 38.2 innings, while also hitting .342 with 10 RBI and 11 runs scored.

Josh Caron
Caron is one of the top high school seniors in Wisconsin playing for perennial power Sun Prairie High School. He was ranked as the No. 2 catcher and No. 10 overall prospect by Perfect Game. As a sophomore, he was a first-team all-conference and second-team all-district pick after hitting .402 with two homers, eight doubles and 28 RBI, leading the team in homers and RBI. That season, Sun Prairie went 24-8 and earned a runner-up finish at the state tournament and entered 2020 as the top-ranked team in the state.

Drew Christo
Christo is considered the top high prospect in Nebraska and one of the nation’s top high school seniors, as he is ranked No. 44 nationally by Perfect Game and No. 82 by Prep Baseball Report. He was selected to play in the 2020 PG All-American Classic in Oklahoma City in September. Christo played for the Nebraska Prospects program in 2020. As a sophomore at Elkhorn High School, he fanned 38 in 31 innings before helping OrthoNebraska reach the Class A American Legion state tournament in 2019. Christo is a three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball) at Elkhorn. His father, Monte, played football at Nebraska and was a member of three national championship teams.

CJ Hood
Hood is one of the state’s premier pitching prospects, as he is ranked in the top-200 seniors nationally by both Perfect Game (No. 124) and Prep Baseball Report (No. 175). Both publications list him as the No. 2 senior in the state in the 2021 class. Hood was a two-way performer for Hickman’s American Legion team, leading them to the 2020 Class B Tournament title. While primarily a pitcher, he delivered a two-run homer in the title game to help the team finish the summer with a 27-8 record. Hood also pitched for the Nebraska Prospects program in 2020. He is a three-sport standout at Norris, as he also garnered interest in football as a wide receiver. His older brother, Bryon, was a four-year performer for the Huskers from 2016 to 2019.

Luke Jessen
Jessen is considered to be the top outfield prospect in Nebraska in the class of 2021 playing at Elkhorn South High School. He is rated the No. 3 overall prospect by Prep Baseball Report, which also had him among the top 500 seniors in the country, and fourth by Perfect Game.  He played for the Nebraska Prospects program over the summer. As a sophomore in 2019, he hit .312 with five doubles, two triples and one home run.

Core Jackson
Jackson is the first Canadian prospect to sign with Nebraska since 1998, when Adam Stern and John Cole joined the Husker program. A member of the Canadian Junior National Team in 2020, Jackson was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in Ontario by Prep Baseball Report, while Perfect Game had him as the No. 4 shortstop in the provinces. He was selected to play in the CPBL All-Star Showcase earlier this fall, an event featuring some of the best high school talent in Canada. As part of Great Lakes Canadians, also coached by Stern, he won Canadian Premier Baseball League Championships at both the U-14 and U-15 levels. Jackson attends Lambton Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute, where he plays basketball, volleyball, badminton and baseball.

Chase Mason
Mason is one of the top multi-sport athletes in the upper Midwest playing at Viborg-Hurley High School. He is rated the No. 1 prospect in South Dakota by Perfect Game, while he is the top prospect in the South Dakota/Minnesota region by Prep Baseball Report, which also has him as the No. 73 prospect nationally. He comes off earning all-state honors in American Legion ball over the summer, going 6-1 with a 0.97 ERA, as he fanned 84 in 50 innings of work. While his numbers on the mound are impressive, what’s more impressive are his tools as a hitter. He put up major league type numbers in several offensive metrics and showed off his raw power, speed, and athleticism this summer, earning high praise from scouts across the country. He was recruited in football by several FBS programs, including Fresno State and Wyoming after throwing for 2,218 yards and rushing for 1,159, while accounting for 45 touchdowns last season in nine-man football. He set South Dakota state title game records with 416 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in 2019. He also earned third-team all-state accolades in basketball, averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He comes from an athletic family, as Mason’s mother, Molly, played college basketball at the University of Sioux Falls.

Max Petersen
Petersen is one of the top infield prospects in Nebraska, as he is ranked fifth in the state by both Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. Last summer, he was one of several Husker signees who played for Nebraska Prospects.  As a sophomore, Peterson hit .319 with nine extra-base hits, 18 RBI and 11 stolen bases at Lincoln Southwest. He continued his development during American Legion ball in the summer of 2019, hitting .313 with 19 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Petersen has been around Husker baseball since serving as Husker batboy during his younger days. Petersen is a second-generation Husker, as his father, Darin, was a four-year starter for the Big Red and played in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Kyler Randazzo
Randazzo ranks as the top third baseman in the state and is one of two Elkhorn High School seniors to sign with the Huskers during the fall signing period. He was the No. 6 prospect in Nebraska by both Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report. He was one of several signees to play for the Nebraska Prospects over the summer. As a sophomore, Randazzo was the only sophomore on the all-state team by the Omaha World-Herald in 2019. That season, he hit .423 with 21 RBI and 13 extra-base hits, while also going posting a 2-1 mark with a 0.30 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.

Preferred Walk Ons
Jadon Arakaki
One of the top high school seniors in Hawaii, Jadon Arakaki will join the Huskers as a walk-on next season. He is rated the No. 2 overall prospect and top outfielder in the state by Perfect Game.  Over the summer, he hit .472 with six stolen bases during the Hawaii Sandlot Classic showcase. He has also been clocked on the mound in the low 90s. He will be the first Hawaii native in the Husker program since All-American Shane Komine (1999-2002) pitched the Huskers to back-to-back CWS appearances in 2001 and 2002.

Chandler Benson
The lone Texan in this fall’s recruiting class, is a walk-on from Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas. He is rated the No. 19 left-hander in the state of Texas by Perfect Game in the class of 2021. He plays for the Dulin Dodgers program and was named to the all-tournament team at the 2019 WWBA World Championship and named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the 2019 U-16 National Championship, as Dulin won the national championship. As a sophomore at Liberty High School, he earned second-team all-district honors in 2019 after posting a 2.75 ERA and fanning 36 over 35.2 innings of work.

Matthew Guthmiller
A walk-on, Guthmiller was the top rated first base prospect in the state according to Perfect Game, while ranking just outside the state’s top-10 prospects in a very deep senior class. He spent the summer playing for 52’s Patriots in American Legion and the Nebraska Prospects program. As a sophomore, he was a key performer in Millard South’s state runner-up squad, hitting .283 with 11 RBI and 12 runs, while committing one error all season at first base. Guthmiller’s father, Matthew Sr., was a catcher at Nebraska in 1996.

Corbin Hawkins
Corbin Hawkins continues the pipeline from Millard West High School and will walk on to the Husker program next fall. He was rated among the top-15 seniors in Nebraska by Prep Baseball Report, as he played American Legion ball and played with the Nebraska Prospects program. His summer performance was highlighted by a five-inning no-hitter with nine strikeouts. A two-way player in high school, Hawkins earned honorable-mention Class A all-state accolades as a sophomore as he helped Millard West to a 28-5 record and first state title in school history. He hit .270 while also fanning 20 in 6 innings of work. Hawkins was limited to just six appearances on the mound because of injury, but tossed a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts against Millard South in the state tournament.

Gabe Swansen
Swansen is walking on to the Husker program after putting together a solid junior season at Johnston (Iowa) High School, helping the program to a 24-3 record and a Class 4A state title. He is ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in Iowa by Perfect Game, and was invited to the 2020 Midwest Prospect Showcase. As a junior, he was selected first team All-Iowa (all class) by the Des Moines Register after hitting .434 and leading class 4A with 34 RBI. He went 3-for-5 with three RBI during the 2020 state tournament. He was also a first-team all-state pick by the state coaches association. He is a two-year starter who hit .336 with four homers, 29 RBI and 31 runs scored as a sophomore in helping the school to a 36-6 record and a state runner-up finish in 2019. He is a member of the Iowa Sticks baseball program.

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