The hours leading up to Darien Chase’s commitment Thursday to the one of the nation’s storied college football programs didn’t feature hats lined across a table or a ceremony filled with family, friends and fellow students.
A social media announcement is how the soft-spoken Chase, a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com and reigning all-state receiver for Union High School, chose let the world know he’ll play college football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Low key is just the way he wanted it.
“To me,” Chase said, “it’s more personal.”
Chase did, though, take time for media interviews Thursday, including with The Columbian just moments after posting the verbal commitment on Twitter. He plans to sign his letter of intent during December’s early-signing period.
Chase’s top-two choices came down to Nebraska and Boise State after taking official visits recently to both schools in the lengthy recruiting process. Nebraska didn’t come into Chase’s recruiting circle until September, then later this month when it became the sixth school to offer Chase. The senior also held scholarship offers from Pac-12 Conference members Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, and Utah.
Nebraska recruited Chase as a wide receiver, something the senior said was “huge for me.” One of the coaches to recruit Chase is assistant coach Steve Cooper, who has ties to the Pacific Northwest as an ex-Portland State coach and player.
Chase is one of 18 known Nebraska recruits for the class of 2019, and the only recruit from Washington state. He’s listed as the top-rated recruit in Washington for 2019 by 247Sports.com, the same recruiting site to list Chase as a four-star recruit. He described the electric, game-day atmosphere at Nebraska as unmatched from his official visit last weekend to the school, calling it “something different.”
He took it a step further when asked to elaborate.
“It’s different from anywhere else I’ve been in the country, honestly.” he said of the Big-10 Conference program. “The game day, the vibe, the people. It’s different from everywhere else.
“I love it.”
Chase arguably is one of the most sought-after high school recruits to come out of Clark County in recent memory. Chase has been an all-league player throughout high school, including a two-way first-team all-4A Greater St. Helens League pick at receiver and cornerback last season surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in addition to four interceptions on defense. This season with Chase again starting on both sides of the ball, Union (8-0) is seeking a league-title repeat hosting Camas (5-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium.
In eight games in 2018, Chase has 475 receiving yards on 40 catches with eight touchdowns. For his career, he’s 25 yards away from surpassing 3,000 receiving yards and has 37 total touchdowns.
Union coach Rory Rosenbach said Nebraska is getting an all-around receiver in Chase, but what sets the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder apart is the ability to turn into a running back in the open field.
Yards after the catch is what separates Chase, Rosenbach said.
“He can turn a short catch and turned into a long gain,” Rosenbach said. “… He can do all the things in all three phases of the offense.”
Nebraska’s storied program includes three of its five national titles in the 1990s, but the once-vaulted program has fallen on hard times for more than a decade.
Nebraska is 1-6 but showing signs a turnaround is looming under first-year coach Scott Frost, who replaced ex-Oregon State coach Mike Riley after three seasons.
Chase returned from Nebraska on Sunday, and said he had the same feeling about the school, program, players, coaches and community days afterward as he did witnessing a Nebraska win and 366 consecutive shutouts and counting inside the 85,000-plus-seat Memorial Stadium.
The fact that feeling never left gave him gave him a sense of where he wants to play college football.
“It shows how much potential there is when they start winning again,” Chase said. “I know they’ll bring it back and that’s what I want to be a part of.”