2022 Recruiting Class Update/Nebraska Can Crush the Portal/Local Recruiting Rant

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.

31 thoughts on “2022 Recruiting Class Update/Nebraska Can Crush the Portal/Local Recruiting Rant

  1. Excellent take on recruiting, especially the use of JUCO and the portal. When I heard Frost mention that he wanted to get older guys I felt like he was saying those 60 guys (FR?SO.) were not ready. Do you think this will lead more of our current guys to the portal? I could see a few offensive skill guys leaving.
    Why do I feel like Alberts will be one of our top recruiters?

    1. I think you’ll see a lot of portal guys this year, but I’m not sure if it will be the norm or an instance with just Nebraska. I couldn’t figure out why we were only getting 8 recruits but if we aren’t getting traction with high caliber recruits, go the portal route and get some good skill players that just can’t quite cut it at USC or Ohio State who has high draft picks in front of them.

  2. While the buck stops with Frost, recruiting is generally delegated to the assistants to drive. I think Ruud has been the lead locally. Is this largely his failure or is it a team effort? Sometimes I wonder if we just need a HC to carve out 5 spots in every recruiting class for local kids and just tell the assistants its on you guys how those 5 play out.

    Any ideas why we still seem to be unable to recruit Iowa Western despite TO playing a large role in getting that place up and going? I think this staff needs to figure out the JUCO scene pretty quickly. With 2020 being a free year there are a ton of kids at that level who can come in as 4 to play 3 guys and cover up some of the 2020 covid attrition.

    1. I actually think Ruud has done a really good job locally. Quite honestly, he’s made some comments that the staff just isn’t on the same page. “If it were up to me he would have an offer already but i’m told we just can’t miss on local guys.” But we are missing on tons of Florida guys so I don’t get it. It ends up making it so a guy like Deshawn Woods has already talked to Kirk Ferentz multiple times but doesn’t even have an offer from Nebraska.

      Held does a pretty good job with JUCO guys but i’m not sure why we are struggling with Iowa Western. Part of me wonders if some of those kids have a sour taste in their mouth because they are more local and weren’t recruited right away? But I also know we went after that one DE and lost him to Wisconsin, and that other DL but lost him to Penn State. We got that kicker from there that everyone was excited about and he hasn’t played at all, we also got that center that did nothing for us.

  3. excellent information…stuff like his is why you were followed so closely on the other site! I think the transfer portal can be an absolute goldmine for the Huskers in the coming year for all the reasons you mentioned..the new facilities will only help us in that regard…

    1. I almost think they need to go half and half with a recruiting class and transfer portal this year. I think we can really clean up there even though guys like Stepp, Kolarevic, and Johnson have been underwhelming so far.

  4. I actually believe that regardless did this regime, long-term Nebraska is going to need to use the transfer portal well to compete with top teams. In the current climate, unless we get a hyped-good recruiter, we aren’t going to have the top 3 classes. But I agree that if we look competent and have a head coach – regardless of who it is – have success here, I think we need to become a destination for high-level players who didn’t get their shot somewhere else.

    Now, I think it takes success and stability of success and culture, or else you just have a bunch of hired guns year in and out

    1. Yep, I don’t think it’s a “use the transfer portal because this staff is sucking” situation. I think it’s something no matter who the coach is they can use to be really successful. I think it helps weed out a lot of the unknown like how a kid will react away from home and gives you more film against competition you understand.

      1. Yeah, I don’t like the transfer portal, in that I don’t like that students can now change teams year-in year-out whenever they want. Wish you still had to wait a year. But it’s a new reality so either use it well or fall behind.

      2. I don’t mind the one time get out of jail free card. They at least put a stop to just transferring every year with no penalty. I think it helps them too in case a coordinator or coach leaves after signing day. But I do agree it makes it easy for kids to flee at adversity which is a big problem for kids these days.

  5. The “I don’t think we grind” quote rings all to true. You can see it in some of the misses. I think overall Frost has done fairly well but this latest class is a disaster. We have been in the top 25 ranking wise going back several years and this class could easily finish outside the top 50. I get it’s a small class but then this class should have some serious 4* gems. It just shows that there is nothing to sell higher rated kids on the board. This class is just one more reason on Trev’s list of why it is probably the right time to move on because stacking classes like this together will cost the program down the road.

    1. Yeah I agree. I thought about it, and if it came down purely to a recruiting decision, would the class be any worse than it is now by a change? I feel like there’s some local kids who will stay regardless, and probably some defectors. But I don’t know that a last-minute piecemeal class would be much worse than where we currently stand.

      No way of predicting what would happen,and I can understand certain reasons for wanting Frost to stay, but I don’t think our current class getting blown up should be a concern if a change is made.

    2. Ya, and I think the top 25 is a bit of a mirage. For example, 2020 when we signed nearly 50% of our class the last week of the signing period and 5 of them left before camp, is that really a top 25 class? You do things like that and it can set you back.

  6. Every coaching staff that has been hear since Pelini has made a statement on doing better in state, 500 mile radius, and St Louis. Nobody has done it yet. Talent is getting better and better in Neb and Iowa. Its a bad time for Neb not to have an edge in recruiting anymore like it use too.

    1. I think Pelini said it but didn’t take it to heart. Riley tried and actually did a decent job but he recruited Fant to the wrong position and was only here 3 years. Then completely blew things going after Mapieu instead of Williams.

      1. I feel like we used to be a destination school for those coming out of Missouri. Maybe that has changed with the SEC or our performance. Maybe I’m just remembering some really good players from a while ago.

      2. I also think we were head and shoulders better than Kansas, Kansas State, Mizzoue, Iowa State, and Iowa. We just aren’t now. I mean, if a kid chooses Iowa, Iowa State or Kansas State over us now it may be because they want to play for a winning team.

  7. Good stuff on recruiting. The Juco route is fir sure the way to go this year as you need some spread out kids, especially when we figure out who is moving on. The local thing is tough. I would take Betts as the must get Watts is now on defense at ND. It’s clear 2022 was a wash, but 2023 is looking good, and locally there are legit high 3 and 4 stars. I think the kids we have now have heart and are being and trying to be leaders and lead. BTW the Hayes kid reminds me of a skinny Rex Burkhead, a little faster
    But the wiggle is the same.

    1. I think with Daniels moving on you see some JUCO DL offers going out because we can’t just rely on Riley, Hutmacher isn’t ready which is a tough pill for some people on the other site to swallow since I told them he was at least two years away and I got blasted.

      I’ll take these guys they are getting locally now like Gifford, Bretz, Stenger, etc., they will play better than their rankings.

      Watts is getting dicked around up in South Bend. But it’s tough to tell the staff they are screwing up when they only have one loss and are making the CFP.

      1. You’re right about him being 2 years away. I do think he will be a difference maker. I should also have said the Juco guys are older which in the B1G you want men sized dudes. We haven’t had many H.S. Kids ready to go physically. I just threw out the ND/Watts thing because it wasn’t treated as that big a deal up there. I think it is, honestly.

      2. Ya, I just thought in year 4 some of these OL/DL guys we have brought in would be “men sized” by now. If it takes 5 years to get them there we may be in trouble.

      3. Just curious what was it that made you initially think that he was a few years away from being ready? I mean, it’s generally pretty tough for DT/NT to start young, often takes longer to add some bone density/strength that comes with age.

        I guess someone like Ty Robinson was able to get on the field his 2nd year I believe, playing him some at NT even though he was young and weighed less.

        I don’t have a bone to pick or think that he should be playing or would be ready earlier – you never know with players and some people never make the field – just curious what was your initial line of thinking that he wouldn’t be ready for several years vs. a different player that could be ready earlier on the DLine?

      4. There were a couple things, the first is what you hit on. Playing a 2 gap NG in the B1G is extremely tough to do as a true freshman, or redshirt freshman. Even Damion Daniels wasn’t ready in year 3 and he came to us from Texas. So that’s not really on Hutmacher. But the thing I saw in all of his tapes, is he was probably the most classic case of a bigger and stronger guy going up against outmatched competition and getting away with poor form because he was that much stronger. He played in one of the worst states for high school football, and was a 285 pound ox going against at time linemen that were under 200 pounds. You can develop some bad habits.

        The good news is that with his wrestling background, the leverage thing should start to easily come to him. He just wasn’t going to be ready yet. I got a lot of shit on the other site for that, and was told I didn’t know how important the wrestling and strength aspect is. What they didn’t understand was I was taking that into account. A wrestler for a linemen is one of the most important things ever. To date I think he’s played about a dozen snaps.

        In regard to Robinson, he was a four star playing in Arizona, and we mostly started him out at DE. A much easier task and he was more than likely closer to B1G ready. He played in the Army All-American game as a top DL in the country.

      5. I think some folks also got on you because you didn’t realize just how good the competition in SD is which shows a real lack of awareness.

        Going back to what you had earlier about how we shouldn’t need 5 years to get kids big enough to play OL/DL at this level which I agree with it but take it back to the S/C discussion. We have a staff recruiting kids that are 6’6″ 250 lbs. They just can’t have the kid put on 20 lbs in a redshirt year then say ok lets see what you have as a RSFR. They either have to just bulk that kid fast or they need to accept he won’t play until year 3 at the earliest. So they are all in on bulking up fast. I think we spend a lot of time critiquing the S/C approach (which has merit) but I think it goes both ways here. We had 2 kids in our 2019 class on the OL that are gone that fit this profile. We have a kid on the DL (Newsom) who hasn’t seen the field yet in year 3 and looks quite small. If we are going to recruit these types of players I think we need to have a plan for how we can work them in like Prochazka coming in as a TE vs OU (which Fritzsche totally could have done). Or we need to just not recruit those kids because the fast build up makes them strong enough to play, but not athletic enough to play well.

      6. Wait a second, before I respond to anything… are you saying there’s good competition up in South Dakota that would have prepared Nash Hutmacher for playing along the line in the B1G early in his career at Nebraska?

  8. Actually I was commenting on someone from the other site who went on long rants about how amazing SD football is and would rattle off names of past Huskers from SD

    1. Ohhhh ok thank God… wasn’t sure where to go with that. Ya, I just think any person that thinks South Dakota could get NH ready to play a 2 gap nose in the B1G is drunk on their own bath water.

      In regard to your S/C thing, I think you are right on the money. We choose to bulk fast, even though we had the opportunity to bulk slow because in 2020 we had the most returning starts of any team across the OL in the conference. You could have started Jurgens, Farniok, Jaimes, Hixson, and Wilson. You could have spent your time bulking up slowly the other guys that were waiting their turn. But you also have guys like Prochazka and Benhart who come in and are big enough right away.

      I referenced the 2019 class back in 2019 on my recruiting summary at that site. I told people that class will tell us all we need to know on if this staff and their S/C philosophy works. They recruited Brant Banks, Bryce Benhart, Ethan Piper, and Michael Lynn who had the bulk necessary to play right away, while bringing in S/C projects Jimmy Fritzsche and Matthew Anderson. The projects are gone, and the only two that saw significant playing time is Piper and Benhart, both of which have basically lost their jobs. Further, a guy like Brant Banks who we were told was the guy who could swing anywhere just hasn’t played at all.

      1. So now the question is how to figure out what role S&C plays in these kids performances. Its pretty clear we shouldn’t have taken Anderson but Fritzsche chose us over the national champions who were 45 min up the road. I’m going to guess Clemson knew he needed time but they likely had a plan for how they could leverage him before year 4/5 that didn’t involve him having a huge gut. I think for me that’s the big disconnect. We take these guys as athletes knowing they need work but the development plan is so far away from the skills we want them to have to execute.

        Then we turn around and land a kid like Corcoran who looks completely incapable out there despite him being ready made. We get a local kid like Piper who was physically ready to go day 1 but needed development. Somehow that guy keeps getting worse to the point we moved Hixson back there despite his limitations. This links to the “close losses means we’re close” discussion. There isn’t one thing wrong here that we can just patch up and be 8-4. I feel like everything is wrong and every time we try to “fix” an item, other issues rise up to the surface and the end result is the same.

      2. I think people are confused on the Fritzsche and Clemson thing. They didn’t offer him a scholarship.

        If you go watch that first game Piper was in, he looks so athletic and so good it’s crazy. Mostly because guys were working out on their own much of 2020. But I just think we ruin guys’ athleticism whether that be injuries or how we train. Not sure what Corcoran is dealing with all season but he looks like a shell of himself. Not sure that’s on S/C or not.

      3. Can you elaborate on Fritzsche not having a Clemson scholarship offer? This article from a Clemson site quotes him saying he had an offer. It certainly seemed like he had an offer there and for whatever reason Clemson was struggling to close out that class so it would make sense for them to pursue a local kid with potential (and I think we are seeing remnants of that struggle on the field now). https://www.tigernet.com/clemson-football/story/in-state-lineman-has-tough-decision-to-make-between-tigers-and-huskers-17529

        On Piper, while he looked great his first game its worth pointing out he regressed massively over the course of a short, 8 game season so I don’t know if I’d say S/C caused it so much as teams adjusted to him and he never really readjusted so he lost confidence. I really think he’s a great example of our OL just not taking to whatever coaching this staff is giving them. He looked confused, blew a bunch of assignments and definitely wasn’t exploding off the ball like early last season. Benhardt also looks really tentative out there. Not sure what’s happening with this group but they aren’t close to what we need let alone want.

      4. It’s basically like when you see on twitter kids say “thankful to be offered by” then name a team. I mean, do we really think he chose us over the home state school who was playing in the CFP every year? Or did we actually give him an offer and he got a PWO that could turn into a scholarship later? I’d love to say we beat out Clemson or Alabama for a kid, it just doesn’t work that way right now. Hopefully soon though.

        Ya, not sure if the OL guys are just looking slow or if they are actually getting slower. Not sure if one is better than the other but all speculation on my part.

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