"Go Big Red." That phrase may have been muttered a time or two during Van football games over the years. It's shouted repeatedly in Lincoln, Neb., during Nebraska Cornhuskers home games every fall.

And for the time being, that's exactly where Van 2016 running back Aphonso Thomas expects to make his home post-high school.

Thomas (5-10, 180) announced via Twitter on Saturday night that he has verbally committed to Nebraska.

Van RB Aphonso Thomas. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

He became the fifth East Texas recruit in the 2016 class to commit, joining Mineola offensive linemen Austin and Riley Anderson and Athens cornerback Travon Fuller (Texas A&M), and Gilmer linebacker Demarco Boyd (Texas).

Nebraska has had some success in the past recruiting the East Texas region, but not since the Cornhuskers' signing of former Rusk running back Cody Glenn in 2005, has it landed a player from the area on its roster.

That was back when the Huskers were still a member of the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska has since changed head coaches twice, and re-aligned into the Big Ten, where it's been since the 2011 season.

Nebraska fired coach Bo Pelini at the end of last year, and hired ex-Oregon State and NFL head coach Mike Riley as his replacement. The Huskers were 9-4 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play in 2014, dropping a 45-42 decision to USC in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.

Thomas recently competed at the third annual ETSN.fm + APEC Football Recruiting Combine in Tyler. He clocked a laser-timed 4.71-second 40-yard dash, put up 14 bench press reps at 185 pounds, recorded a broad jump of 110 inches, and went 33.4 inches on the vertical jump at the May 10 event, which featured 113 of the area’s top prospects.

The Vandals back enjoyed a breakout junior campaign, helping his team to a perfect 10-0 regular season. He will be one of the few offensive standouts Van will return in 2015. Splitting time with senior Matt Savis — a Southeastern Oklahoma State signee — Thomas finished his junior season with 934 yards and 12 touchdowns on 106 carries.

Van begins the season Aug. 28 at home against Palestine.

All verbal commitments are non-binding. Thomas, like all 2016 prospects, will become eligible to sign with any program that offers them on Feb. 3, 2016.

2016 East Texas Football Players With Division I FBS Offers

  • Austin Anderson, OL, Mineola, 6-4, 289 – committed to Texas A&M; additional offers from Arizona State, Arkansas State, Auburn, California, Cincinnati, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, North Texas, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Southern Miss, TCU, Texas, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Vanderbilt (27)
  • Riley Anderson, OL, Mineola, 6-5, 287 – committed to Texas A&M; additional offers from Arizona State, Arkansas State, Auburn, California, Cincinnati, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Carolina, North Texas, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas, TCU, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Vanderbilt (27)
  • Demarco Boyd, RB/LB, Gilmer, 6-0, 215 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Baylor, Florida State, Texas A&M (4)
  • Gabe Foster, RB/DB, Newton, 6-3, 180 — offers from Purdue, ULM (2)
  • Ke’Mon Freeman, QB/ATH, Liberty-Eylau, 5-11, 188 – offers from Arkansas State, North Texas, SMU (3)
  • Travon Fuller, CB, Athens, 6-0, 160 — committed to Texas A&M (1)
  • Alex Gregory, WR, Nacogdoches, 5-11, 175 —offers from Texas State, ULM (2)
  • Zach Hall, ATH, Tyler Lee, 5-11, 170 – offers from Baylor, Texas Tech (2)
  • La’Darius Hamilton, LB, Corrigan-Camden, 6-1, 220 — offer from ULL (1)
  • Adrian Harris, OL, John Tyler, 6-2, 290 -- offer from ULM (1)
  • Keenen Johnson, ATH, Alto, 6-1, 190 – offers from SMU, ULL (2)
  • Brandon Jones, S, Nacogdoches, 6-0, 190 — offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Boise State, California, Florida State, Georgia, Houston, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue, SMU, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, Washington State (38)
  • Braylon Jones, DT, John Tyler, 6-3, 285 – offers from Air Force, Army, Colorado State, Houston, Navy (5)
  • Bronson Massie, DE/LB, Lufkin 6-3, 202 – offers from California, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Texas State (4)
  • Denzel Mims, WR, Daingerfield, 6-4, 180 – offers from Arkansas State, Texas Tech, Tulsa (3)
  • Cody Mitchell, TE, Jasper, 6-5, 225 — offers from Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Missouri, Texas State, ULL (5)
  • Kendrick Rogers, WR, Frankston, 6-6, 207 — offers from Arkansas State, Cincinnati, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Mississippi State, North Texas, SMU, ULL, ULM (10)
  • Micahh Smith, DB, Marshall, 5-11, 185 — offer from Texas State (1)
  • Aphonso Thomas, RB, Van, 5-10, 180 — committed to Nebraska; additional offers from Colorado State, Kansas, Nevada, Texas State (5)
  • Jeremy West, OL/DL, Chapel Hill, 6-2, 297 — offer from ULL (1)
  • Andre Wiley Jr., OLB/S, Liberty-Eylau, 5-10, 170 – offers from Arkansas State, Army, Louisiana Tech, Navy (4)