Kearney Catholic's Haarberg had a front-row seat for the NCAA's recruiting stoppage

Kearney Catholic's Haarberg had a front-row seat for the NCAA's recruiting stoppage

From the The latest updates from the Nebraska football recruiting trail series
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Heinrich Haarberg was in the middle of a busy recruiting sprint when it all came to a screeching halt.

The Kearney Catholic quarterback in the 2021 class has picked up several Division I offers in recent months as his recruitment continues to take off. He had been to Northern Illinois and Northwestern over the weekend of March 7. Then he was in Lincoln for the Huskers’ first spring practice on March 9.

After a few “normal” school days, he and his family headed north to Fargo, North Dakota, and a visit at North Dakota State on Thursday.

So, he was more than a little surprised on Friday when, in the middle of a meeting with Bison quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg’s office, Hedberg’s phone buzzed.

It was a notification that the NCAA had banned all on- and off-campus recruiting activities, effective immediately, in the wake of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“But we were already there. So then we had to leave by 3 p.m.; that was kind of the grandfathered in, I guess,” Haarberg told the Journal Star over the weekend. “So then we just spent the rest of the day there and at 3 p.m. we were off and headed back to Kearney.”

It’s easy to imagine all the ways that the monthlong halt on all recruiting activities — which could just be a starting point for the NCAA — could cause a player like Haarberg considerable worry. After all, the 6-foot-5 signal-caller was just starting to see his recruitment take off, but several schools, Nebraska included, wanted to see him throw during the May evaluation period before offering a scholarship.

“We were supposed to go to Charlotte next weekend for a Rivals camp and then I was going to take a visit,” Haarberg said. “Duke had asked me to come visit and that was one of the closer ones. There were a couple of other asks but Duke was the planned one. But the Rivals camp got postponed. We were supposed to go to Wyoming the week after that, so that’s all been shut down, I guess.”

But the 2021 three-star prospect, who has offers already from Wyoming, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, several FCS schools and is fielding interest from some heavy hitters, is taking all the disruption in stride.

“Actually, I was talking with my parents and we think it could end up being a good thing as far as recruiting goes,” he said. “There have been a lot of requests for me to come visit and a lot of colleges don’t offer until you set foot on their campus or they see you throw. Obviously that’s been shut down now, so a lot of colleges are making exceptions to that now. There are some colleges that might not make exceptions, so that might hurt a little bit, but so far I’m not too worried about it.

“But I think right now the best decision for me is to just keep on doing what I’m doing. I don’t think it’ll affect me too much.”

The recent trip to Lincoln was a productive one, too. He had a chance to catch up with almost every coach on staff, meet new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick and spend some quality time with head coach Scott Frost.

“He just talked to me and reinforced that they want me there, but it’s just, it’d be a disservice to the team to just offer me without seeing me throw, and I completely understand that,” said Haarberg, who does not yet hold an offer from the Huskers. “… (When recruiting a quarterback), you’d better make sure he’s the right one.”

Haarberg said that, while he’s prepared to go through the summer camp circuit if he has to, he’d prefer to “be in Kearney and prepare for what I’ve been preparing for, for the past three years, which is to make a run at a state championship.”

It’s unclear so far if the limitations on recruiting and, more broadly, travel around the country will allow Haarberg to feel like he can make a decision in the early summer, which is his goal.

“I think I’ve kind of narrowed it down to a couple of schools that have showed interest so far and that are coming to see me throw or have said they are,” he said. “Obviously, I’m going to keep on this recruiting process and see who else decides to come see me throw or shows interest or even just offers me out of the blue.”

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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