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Nebraska football set to host six official visitors

Brian Tapu isn’t your typical high school football recruit.

That’s true of Tapu’s size — the towering offensive line prospect stands at 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds — and of his background in the sport of football. Having grown up in New Zealand, Tapu knew little about football prior to visiting family members in the United States last year.

It was there that Tapu’s uncle told him he should pursue football. After a difficult conversation with his parents, they agreed, and the high schooler packed his bags for Salt Lake City, Utah.

Less than a year later, that decision has led to nine scholarship offers for Tapu, including an opportunity with Nebraska that he will evaluate on an official visit this weekend.

“It really was a tough decision because I miss my family, but I know that if I do this, I can help out and support my mom and dad, so that’s my biggest motivation,” Tapu said. “I’m just thankful and humbled that God has given me this path to create for myself.”

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Mostly a basketball player in his youth, Tapu’s size allowed him to excel as a center. But even that experience couldn’t prepare him for the physicality that is needed to play the offensive line at a high level.

In addition to working on footwork and his fluidity of movement, it took Tapu a few weeks to conquer the initial learning curve of the position.

“Where I improved the most last year was being physical,” he said. “My first game, I was not physical at all because I was kind of scared, but my coach kept putting me in there to play, and I just went on with it and started loving it.”

Tapu said Nebraska is currently the front-runner in his recruitment. He has a strong relationship with offensive line coach Donovan Raiola and is looking forward to spending time with the coach on his visit.

However, there’s something else which has raised Tapu’s excitement level for his official visit to Nebraska — his parents will be there. Tapu said he has not seen his parents since leaving New Zealand nearly a year ago, so he appreciates Nebraska making the effort to bring them to Lincoln.

“I’m excited to visit and what makes me happiest is that they’re bringing my parents there,” Tapu said. “For them to go out and do that for my family, that’s something (that I) really hold dear to me, so it’s why Nebraska is on top.”

Two expected visitors for the weekend have now fallen out of NU’s 2025 recruiting plans.

St. Louis Christian Brothers College wide receiver Corey Simms, a key offensive target for the Huskers, will not take a visit after telling On3 his recruitment is down to Missouri, Penn State and USC ahead of an end-of-June commitment. Somerville (New Jersey) defensive lineman Jayden Loftin, a fast riser up NU’s recruiting board following his offer less than a month ago, committed to Tennessee after his official visit to Knoxville last weekend.

Here are the other official visitors expected in Lincoln this weekend:

* Omaha Westside linebacker Christian Jones: The top uncommitted 2025 prospect from within the state, Jones is an explosive athlete whose connections to Nebraska date back several years. The four-star recruit is also visiting Auburn and Oklahoma this month.

* Hitchcock (Texas) defensive lineman Malcolm Simpson: A player with recent interest from Nebraska, Simpson picked up an offer from defensive line coach Terrance Knighton in late May. As a two-sport athlete who also plays basketball, Simpson’s athletic profile could earn him a spot in NU’s 2025 class.

* Kahuku (Hawaii) defensive back Aiden Manutai: A Husker recruiting target since last August, Manutai is one of Nebraska’s top options in the secondary. The three-star prospect plays for a Hawaiian high school football powerhouse and is expected to decide his future next month following his June visits.

* Winner (South Dakota) offensive lineman Shawn Hammerbeck: An unofficial visit to a Nebraska spring practice led to a scholarship offer for Hammerbeck and a return trip for an official visit this week. The 6-7 tackle prospect is one of the Midwest’s best offensive line recruits and is also visiting Kansas State, Minnesota and Texas Tech this month.

* Houston Dekaney edge rusher Jamal Frilot: A late-rising defensive prospect, Frilot is an unranked prospect or low three-star according to multiple recruiting services — but Nebraska believes in his talent. The Huskers offered Frilot last May, having evaluated the defensive athlete as a potential edge rusher or off-ball linebacker.

* Lee’s Summit (Missouri) North wide receiver Isaiah Mozee: Perhaps a surprise addition to NU’s weekend visitor list, Mozee is a current Oregon commit who confirmed to On3 that he will be visiting Nebraska this weekend. The four-star wideout had long been one of Nebraska’s top targets at the position prior to his April commitment to Oregon. The Huskers are back in the picture now with a chance to impress the top-250 prospect.

* Las Vegas Bishop Gorman offensive lineman SJ Alofaitul: Nebraska is targeting several Bishop Gorman in its 2025 class, and Alofaitul may be the best of the bunch. The 6-3, 290-pound prospect is a four-star recruit ranked as high as 10th nationally by ESPN who projects as a powerful interior offensive lineman.

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