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Homesickness in a pandemic cost Nebraska three key recruits from its 2020 class

Homesickness in a pandemic cost Nebraska three key recruits from its 2020 class

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Jaiden Francois

Jaiden Francois was among the highest-ranked members of the Huskers' 2020 recruiting class. But he, along with two other players from Florida, left the program before their first game.

The fear of the unknown cost Nebraska a few talented players in recent months. Truth be told, said Nebraska defensive backs coach Travis Fisher, the effects of pandemic life are ongoing with the current team too.

Fisher, a key recruiter for the Huskers in Florida, watched three players he helped recruit in the 2020 class transfer out of the program as uncertainty related to COVID-19 loomed heavy. Defensive back Henry Gray left for Florida International, DB Jaiden Francois went to Central Florida and linebacker Keyshawn Greene moved on to Florida Atlantic.

The departures were “unfortunate,” Fisher said. “It’s especially tough for kids who leave home and are homesick.”

What those players saw a year ago as recruits was an excited fan base, buzzing campus life and a vibrant city. It has been “the total opposite” in recent months, Fisher said.

It helps, Fisher said, that his senior-laden room includes leaders like Deontai Williams, Marquel Dismuke and Dicaprio Bootle to “grab ahold” of younger players and guide them through tough times.

Senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann said the start-stop-start experience of the last few months has been “a crazy time mentally.” Fisher empathized with people inside and outside the program, saying coaches as well as normal folks beyond football have been struggling with the societal changes.

“It was tough, it still is tough,” Fisher said. “But that’s why we have a football team and a group of coaches who are willing to sacrifice a lot to put our arms around these kids and help them as much as we can and to stay here in Lincoln and ride the wave.”​