2022 Recruiting Class
Currently Nebraska is ranked 83rd in the country according to Rivals with their 2022 recruiting class and it may be the first year since Rivals rankings that they do not sign a four star recruit. Drilling it down to the B1G, Nebraska is ranked 14th (last) and is tied for last with Illinois in average star ranking. It’s been rough, and as i’ve talked about before, teams are just asking recruits that are down to us or them “are those guys even going to be there when you get there?” It’s tough to overcome. Let’s take a look at who we have committed and how they are doing.
QB Richard Torres – Texas – Out for the season with an ACL tear
RB Ashton Hayes – Nevada – I actually really like this get. He’s a versatile guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield but also has enough wiggle. He’s a little on the small side at 5’11” and 180 pounds, but that doesn’t worry me if we are spreading teams out. He’s over 1,000 yards rushing already and catching the ball well. Even though he’s “only” a 3 star, this is a good get by Coach Held.
WR Victor Jones – Florida – A rangy WR who can stretch the field, he also returns kicks. At 6’2″ he is fitting the mold of bigger bodied WRs we are pulling in. He is over 600 yards receiving for the year with 7 touchdowns.
WR Grant Page – Colorado – Out for the season with an ACL tear
TE Chase Androff – Minnesota – Not sure what to think here… Minnesota didn’t even offer him and he’s caught like one ball on the season.
OLB Jake Appleget – Lincoln Southeast – Southeast continues their run of sending kids to 10th and Vine. This kid was a stud last year, but the staff needed to evaluate him this summer before an offer. I get that. He could play TE I think, as he is a weapon for the Knights offensively, but I think he starts out defensively for us at OLB. Luke Gifford 2.0?
OLB Ernest Haussman – Columbus – Haussman was our first commit to get us on the board in March. I’m not impressed offensively, but he looks like someone that can create some havoc on the defensive side of the ball. Somewhat raw, he’s one of those guys that will benefit from every day he gets to play football and improve.
ATH Gage Stenger – Millard South – He flipped from Kansas State once we gave our offer as we have always been his dream school. He probably will start out with Ruud on defense, but he could also be a Brody Belt type on offense. I’d prefer him to work on becoming a Blackshirt though.
Overall, this class is pretty underwhelming. I’m not mad at most of the commits, but I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a class this low from Nebraska. Everyone will point to Covid, but it’s not like Nebraska is the only school dealing with it. Some will point to the small class, but that still doesn’t explain why our average star ranking is dead last in the conference right now, something that has never happened either.
I get that this year and numbers make things difficult, that just doesn’t make it any easier to swallow that the same caliber of athletes that used to be interested in Nebraska just aren’t.
The Transfer Portal
One of the things that had me fall out of grace with the other site is when people were blaming the transfer portal for issues we had, I told people “Nebraska doesn’t have a transfer portal problem, they have a Nebraska problem.” What I mean by that, is the portal isn’t going anywhere. Teams that use it to their advantage will flourish, while teams that say it’s a hinderance and blame it for things will continue to fall. Nebraska can’t continue to lose guys like JD Spielman, Greg Bell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Avery Roberts, etc., and just blame it on the situation.
But let me glass is half full this for you after going somewhat negative with our class… Nebraska can be a very attractive transfer portal destination for players. Let’s be honest, even when we were 9 wins a year we weren’t beating Ohio State, Alabama, or Clemson for recruits. But what happens when those four and five stars find out they just aren’t going to beat out who is in front of them at those places? They want to go somewhere that takes football just as serious, have unbelievable facilities and resources, and their chance to play is better. Lincoln is just the place for those types of guys, and we saw it with guys like Markese Stepp from USC and Tyreke Johnson from Ohio State. Now, let’s throw caution a bit because those guys aren’t really playing right now, but nevertheless guys like Toure are out there.
The transfer portal also reminds me a bit of why I like going after JUCOs so much. One of the big things coaches across multiple staffs have told me is you have zero clue how a kid is going to react to being removed from his home and support system. One of our former coaches once told me “we gotta do better locally otherwise we find ourselves going after guys in December and we have no idea that he moved from Jersey to Florida and had a white supremacist father and we kick him off the team before fall camp even starts.” Going after transfer portal guys lets you know where a kids head is at. For example, Tyreke Johnson was from Florida and went to Ohio State, when looking to transfer you can find out if he was doing ok academically and wasn’t home sick before taking him. It provides you more info on a kid than what you get from their high school film or coach that is trying to get them to the next level. Further, you can get guys like Stepp that had a 100 yard game for us. Kolarevic who is our 3rd best ILB currently. Or even a guy like Toure that is our leading WR currently.
You also are going to be able to spread your classes out a bit. Nebraska has 60 players that are Freshmen or Sophomores currently. We gotta get some veterans on the squad to help out. And I think people will get their wish this year with a grad transfer QB (if AMart leaves like I believe he will).
Local recruiting and the pulse of high school coaches
I mentioned earlier that the thing that got me in bad graces at the other site was saying the transfer portal wasn’t our problem, Nebraska had a Nebraska problem. The other thing that sent people over the edge was when I told them our coaches just were getting outworked by other staffs in our own backyard. I said things like our staff failed to communicate as well as the coaches from Iowa, Iowa State, Mizzoue, and even South Dakota State. It just didn’t sit well. And then we would inevitably get a commit from a James Carnie, Ernest Hausmann, or whoever and I would get some remark like “guess the communication wasn’t bad for them!” I would just laugh. How well our staff recruits shouldn’t be judged on if they get kids to come here that are coming here no matter who the coach is. It needs to be judged by how we do with the kids that need to be recruited to come here. I will give them credit for Fidone, everyone was coming after him. But even he was a lifelong Husker fan and didn’t get to take visits like he wanted. We got lucky.
Here is one example I gave. A coach from another school calls a head coach at a local Nebraska high school and says “I want to come see Player X and Player Y. I will be in town Tuesday and Wednesday, which works best for me to see them lift and to talk to you? Do you have anyone you think i’m missing?” The coach has direct communication with that staff member and they at least humor him that they care about who he recommends.
Now compare that to what Nebraska did, i’ll throw him under the bus since he isn’t here anymore. But same local coach is teaching a class, misses a call and a voicemail is left. It’s a Nebraska secretary stating Coach Walters is at the school and wants to talk. He calls back but has to leave a message “well i’m in class after this passing period. Can you have him text me where he is and I can find someone to fill in for a bit and come meet him.” Secretary calls back and he scrambles to find someone to help him, still doesn’t have the coaches number for whatever reason. He’s sitting there and looks at the top prospect, local coach says “hey a couple other schools looked at these two as well.” The response? “We will catch them next time.” It was no wonder we weren’t making top 5s for some of these guys when you couple that level of effort with on the field lack of success.
One more. A Rivals 250 recruit is talking to multiple schools and ends up being asked his top schools in an interview. It doesn’t include Nebraska or another school. The other school instantly calls the local head coach when he sees the twitter video where the recruit left his school out. “What’s going on? I thought we were good? Can you find out for me!?” Head coach talks to athlete and finds out that he just left them by mistake, but obviously they had work to do. Nothing from Nebraska to this recruit or coach. He then puts out a top 5 later that includes the school, but again not Nebraska. He ends up committing to the school he forgot to list originally. Meanwhile our staff just says “we wasted each others time” to him. (Verbatim)
I asked two separate coaches what we could do better and they both said more of the same thing. “I just don’t think we grind like those other coaches” and “they just don’t want it as much” was the other response. Again, I’m happy we get guys like Haarberg and Carnie, but i’m not going to jump for joy because a staff at Nebraska can pull in Stenger or Hausmann. They gotta get the kids who need some coercing. We complained for years that Nebraska just didn’t have the talent. We went from losing one of our top 3 recruits in state in 2020 (Xavier Watts), to two in 2021 (Avante Dickerson and Keagan Johnson), and now our top 4 guys in 2022 (Deshawn Woods, Devon Jackson, Micah Riley-Ducker, and Kaden Helms) who are going to Mizzou, Oregon, Auburn, and Oklahoma. I mean, at one point us Husker fans were trying to blame the weather on why Jackson was leaving, he heads to Oregon.
Anyway, I got a lot of shit for that take on the other site but i’m finally happy that it’s been confirmed by a former Husker with this tweet. We gotta do better.