Riley news, I think I figured out NIL, and Omaha Recruiting getting an uptick

First, let’s start with the Riley news. We learned over the weekend that Jordon Riley was entering his name into the transfer portal. It of course sparked numerous opinions such as “good let’s see what Hutmacher can do” or “we play mostly an even front anyway” which always leave me scratching my head. I always am so confused by the fans that see a player leave and their immediate response is “let’s see what Player X can do anyway, I wasn’t impressed” as if he didn’t beat out the other guys our fans are “wanting to see” for the entirety of 2021. And this is no different. Jordon Riley was our backup NG to our all-conference player Damion Daniels, and played 3 times as many snaps as guys like Nash. He had won the backup NG spot and was penciled in to start for 2022. But since he’s leaving, we are ok with it because we weren’t impressed in his limited action. Let’s save whether he’s good or not, my whole point is, when you lose depth that has actually played, I promise it’s not better to just have an unproven that was beat out by that person take their place.

The other thing that get’s thrown around is “well we play more of an even front 4-2-5 anyway” which is only partially true. But here’s the first series against Iowa this past year:

So you see there, we are in an odd front the first two plays (nevermind who made the first play behind the LOS). 3 down linemen, with our 2 OLBs setting the edge. On the third play, we are finally in an even front, but we still have 3 down linemen on the field. Here’s one more look at it from the first game of the season not the last:

So there you have 3 downlinemen with Nelson as the OLB up top. People are thinking that we run an even front that would have Nelson and Tannor as our DEs with only 2 DTs. That simply wasn’t the case most of the time for us. We typically had Stille, Robinson, and Daniels in on first and second down. So whether he was a 2 gapping NG or shading in a 1 technique, our NG is still a big part of things whether we are in an odd or even front.

What people are getting confused is our nickel package. On passing downs we would sub out our NG and have only 2 DL in the game (our DEs) and then Nelson/Tannor would be on the edge to rush. But you have to get them into passing situations first with our base defense that has 3 DL on it. I went into in this first post of mine on this site:

I think we many times have to just pump the breaks with what’s happening. The “we are shifting to a 4-3” is rearing it’s ugly head again as it did in 2020 and 2021 offseason. This is the 3rd offseason in a row that Chinander will then have to say “well we play a lot of even fronts too” and around the carousel we go.

One last point on this… Dawson made a comment to the media when he came back from the Giants that I found really interesting. One of the media members said “do you think the players are happy to see you back since you recruited a lot of them?” His response was “there will be guys really happy to see me, and then there will be others that aren’t as thrilled.” Could that have been what happened here? I mean, Riley is following Tuioti to a top 25 team in Oregon. Not a huge deal, those things happen. I’m just giving some foreshadowing a bit to the offensive side of the ball where we went all new assistants. Portal season will be fun for us in May.

For those of you that care, here is my 3-4 vs 4-3 debate:

I will say, it wouldn’t shock me to play more even this year with us getting zero transfer DL or recruits that can play in 2022. Because as of right now the alternative is putting Hutmacher as your starting NG, or shifting Robinson down there who struggled late in the season last year. More on that tomorrow in the DL preview.

I think I have NIL figured out

I remember back when this whole thing kicked off and people said “this will be great for us, no one has a better fanbase than Nebraska!” I tried telling people just what we were up against, there was no way our fans would be able to keep up with some SEC loser blowing his entire trust fund to get a kid to his school. No one believed me. And it was tough to keep beating that drum when these things saying SEC was 3rd best at NIL were coming out:

Or you had people like Mike Farrell putting us in the top 5:

I mean, when you look back at those, A&M isn’t even on Farrell’s list, but now people are all pissed because they paid so much to lock up the #1 recruiting class. If we take realistic and honest look at it, we aren’t going to be able to keep up. Especially since we aren’t winning. Heck, we didn’t even have our football facilities fully funded until Alberts made a play to have the boosters that wanted to keep Frost around pay for the outstanding balance.

But I figured out what it is and why there’s all this confusion. A place like Nebraska gets a guy like Casey Thompson all excited because they have a list of businesses that are willing to partner and help him make money. “Tweet this” or “wear this shirt” as an example. Our possibilities seem endless. Meanwhile, Texas A&M who is in the SEC and isn’t even on these lists I provided just signed the #1 recruiting class because the estimate is their boosters gave away 25-30 million just for signing on the dotted line. Or what BYU did:

Do we have walk-ons still paying tuition here? You bet we do. So in talking to ‘Native’ from the old site, it became pretty clear what was happening. Nebraska is probably top 5 in doing NIL the way it was intended. Once kids get here they can earn some real money by being associated with the program. Teams like BYU and A&M, while their pitch won’t have a litany of businesses, all you have to do is be a member of the team and you get a ton of cash. Sure, there’s some red tape and some things they have to show you did, but they are just taking it to a level that i’m quite sure Nebraska is not wanting to go to, and quite honestly probably can’t.

Let me rephrase it if you still don’t believe what i’m saying… if you think Nebraska is a top contender for NIL, why did we end up 11th overall in B1G recruiting rankings and for the first time ever did we have a bottom 50% average recruit ranking in 2022? If this was good for us, why did we have the worst class since Rivals has kept track in both overall and per recruit ranking in our conference?

Omaha Recruiting

Just a quick tidbit here… Mickey Joseph has been making the rounds up here and doing some great things.

For the record Barrett Ruud is still helping up there, it’s not like we weren’t getting guys like Prochazka and Henrich from up this way. But we needed some renewed energy in a few areas. And Joseph can help that.

I do want to point one thing out though, many times it wasn’t Ruud’s fault. I remember for one particular player he said “if it were up to me he’d have an offer already, we just can’t miss on in-state guys”. That led to other teams contacting and offering first. Something that rubbed a few of those kids/parents the wrong way. So we need to make sure we are on the same page as a coaching staff. And it seems like we are… all of a sudden we have offered a freshman from the OPS school district:

I like more focus on Omaha, I like the earlier offers (we beat Iowa this time), and I like the sense of urgency. I think things are on the up.

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21 thoughts on “Riley news, I think I figured out NIL, and Omaha Recruiting getting an uptick

  1. I know you are a lot closer to it than I am but the first paragraph lost me. Riley has barely played at a position we desperately needed depth. When Daniels went down and missed the final 2 games it was Nash who started and got the bulk of the reps. When Riley hit the portal, here’s what Rivals had to say about him:

    “According to PFF, Riley saw 63 total defensive snaps in 2021 and 36 in 2020. In 2018 at UNC, he played 103 snaps.

    This past season, Riley saw action in 10 games, posting seven total tackles and one tackle for loss. He saw 13 snaps both against Fordham and Minnesota. Over the Husker final four games of 2021, Riley saw just 15 total snaps.”

    We definitely lack bodies up front so I can’t say this is the equivalent of Hannah leaving, but the implication this dude was going to start is a bit startling. That said, the loss of Deontre Thomas was way bigger than it appears anyone realizes. He’s not going to get drafted but he could have made it a lot easier to flex Robinson inside. I think that’s where they move with things as they have an unproven starter, Robinson can flex there then total unknown. And flexing Robinson inside means depth is stretched behind him.

    1. I’m not sure where you are seeing Nash started in front of Riley? According to, Nash had zero starts, and Riley had three times as many snaps this year than NH did per PFF. In the first series and the video I posted, that was Riley getting the tackle for loss.

      The reason I implied he was going to start was because he was next up behind Daniels, not Nash. Unless they played the third string guy more than the backup. Now, we did a good job of hopping into that nickel to make it so no NG was needed so once Daniels was out, our backups really didn’t see ton. I just think NG we are in a bit of trouble, and quite frankly along the DL. Besides Robinson and Rogers, we have basically no experience.

      1. I just researched it a bit between meetings… I forgot that we started Thomas at NG for senior day with Daniels out. With that said, Riley still got twice as many snaps as Hutmacher that game. I don’t doubt that NH would have pushed Riley, but JR was the first one off the bench followed by NH.

      2. My memory of that last game and a half was our interior being pushed pretty good and seeing a lot of Nash out there. I chalked it up to a young guy not ready being forced into reps. I think they just tried to preserve his redshirt this year while Daniels got a lot of reps and they used that nickel formation you referenced. For 10 games we didn’t need to test the freshman which doesn’t mean he wasn’t ahead of Riley by years end.

        I think Riley is a loss in that we lack bodies but I also see him as one of those poor fits this staff has mastered. He was a 4-3 interior guy though a run stuffer before he arrived. Then he signs and is listed at 303 bc that was his JUCO weight but we quickly get him to 330. He struggles in limited time in 2020 then comes back around 305 last year openly acknowledging he struggled with the extra weight in 2020. He’s a 6th year guy who didn’t show much in this scheme so he is replaceable, but per your other preview there is just no depth here so he’s a loss. I cant imagine the staff penciled him in as a starter at any point given he never showed that.

      3. Nash played in 11 games this past year, averaging about 2 snaps per game (goalline) so it had nothing to do with preserving a redshirt. Riley played in front of him and had nearly three times as many snaps. Nash really only got in on goalline situations and once or twice in the middle of the field. If Nash was in front of Riley, he would have played more snaps than him, or our coaches played the worse player more often which I don’t believe.

        I’m not sure how Riley would be considered a 4-3 interior guy or why people say “he’s a 4-3 guy” when a lineman doesn’t work out. Hell, we were saying that about the Davis twins, who got drafted by 3-4 NFL teams and were on rosters for a couple teams. Riley played in the middle of the defense in JUCO, moved from DE/NG here, and now is transferring to a team that ran a 3-4 and is top 25.

        But I also agree, he’s not necessarily a difference maker. I don’t think he’s a massive loss from a talent standpoint, but he would have been running out with the 1s. This isn’t like Jackson Hannah leaving. The defensive lineman with the third most returning snaps just hit the portal and we are razor thin at the position. At minimum he’s a loss from a depth perspective.

      4. I don’t think we’re too far apart here but let me clarify the 4-3 comment. No I am not someone who thinks we are moving to a 4-3, but I think this guy wasn’t a viable option as a NG in a 2 gap scheme; his best fit was as an interior guy in a 4 man front. I also agree the Davis twins were better fits in 4-3 than 3-4 but they were also better talents so they contributed better in a 3-4 than Riley did. Let’s look at Riley’s career.

        2017 redshirts at UNC, was recruited into a 4-3 scheme
        2018-19 at Garden City CC playing a 4-3 scheme
        2020-21 Nebraska in a 3-4 scheme

        I think we can agree he didn’t contribute much the last 2 years but he got here based on performance as an interior guy in a 4 man front and our staff projected him as someone who could grow into that NG role in our system. He openly acknowledged struggling with extra weight in 2020 and dropped down for 2021. That weight is a key difference between these roles. I think within our scheme he is a better fit at the DT position Robinson plays versus the NG spot we put him at, but our staff missed on evaluating his potential to grow into that role.

      5. I think we are on the same page, i’m just saying 4-3, 3-4, it doesn’t really matter quite frankly. There isn’t a ton of difference between a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT despite what people try to make it. A good DL is a good DL. Even if he’s not going to be a fit at 3-4 NG he could have helped at DE.

        I’m with you that he isn’t someone that will be missed except for the fact that he was slated to start. But we needed to get a portal addition in over him or a stud recruit. It reminds me a bit of Damion Daniels in 2019, he wasn’t quite ready to be our NG, but we got his brother in so he could have another year of development. I really wish we could have got that Miami NG in.

  2. The NIL thing is changing the landscape as we know it and one would think it would moderate a bit as we go along. If we continually have schools that are head and shoulders above others (Texas, A&M, etc), it will be a new kind of arms race and things might well look very different in the near future. That said, winning cures a lot I think…we get back to winning and going to bowls, etc and with the new renovations coming, I think we can do well…but I dont think we will ever be able to match what A&M did and the amount of money they spent

  3. What I’m interested to see is if TAMU can sustain that $25-30M a year. I saw talk that this was “renewable” every year, so in year 2 they are going to need 50-60M, year 3 75-90M, so full funded you are talking $100M-120M. Is that really feasible? Will kids start leaving cause they lose their “funding”

    1. I really am hoping that the waters settle on this a bit. I mean, if it’s really 30 million a year for them, they will blow through the cost of our brand new football facility that it took us over 2 years to fully fund. They need to regulate it a bit, and with Saban on that talk track as well for regulation, i’m hoping it happens sooner than later.

      I’m real curious to see what happens with recruiting classes this year. Just wait til signing day, there will be kids committed somewhere and a school will come in with a 7 figure NIL deal because they need a stud WR or something like that.

      1. “I’m real curious to see what happens with recruiting classes this year. Just wait til signing day, there will be kids committed somewhere and a school will come in with a 7 figure NIL deal because they need a stud WR or something like that.”

        Wow, when you put it like that, it will be like the wild west out there! It sure seems like the path this NIL is on (at least now in the early stages of it) isnt going to be feasible to maintain year after year….I guess we will will be fascinating to see it play out for sure

  4. On this NIL deal, I think it will take a year or two to actually see what these kids are getting paid. One thing that they offer a kid 1m, but did he actually receive that money. You got to pay taxes on this, and a company will want to right off what they are paying. These boosters are only going pay players if they produce. So I think it will differently be a bigger issue in recruiting, but you will see a lot of 5 star bust. Transferring in the portal wont be as big of an issue. We didn’t get Thompson because we paid more money, or Riley, or AM didn’t leave because of money.

    1. I think that’s fair. I actually brought it up in my other NIL write-up, but a booster that pays a million dollars to get a kid on campus, he will want an answer on if he doesn’t see that kid playing. He basically just lit his money on fire. That’s where I think the waters will calm down. These boosters won’t see the ROI on 50% of these kids (that’s the bust rate for recruits) so they will be more selective or give less in my opinion.

  5. Back in the 80s or 90s wasn’t there a joking rumor that Nebraska gave out an extra 96 scholarships, on top of there 85 limit. Each county in Nebraska sent the best football to Lincoln to walk-on and pay for they schooling? Meaning there was no way Nebraska could have that many good walk-ons, they had to be cheating. What I am saying Nebraska had some advantages in years past, 150 man roster, and high level of walk-ons. With this NIL deal they need to start actively recruiting walk-ons, like 25 per class, and all walk-ons should be able to get a NIL deal to pick up the bill.

    And maybe Nebraska already does something behind the scene with walk-ons since they never advertises walk-ons getting a scholarship? Who is to say once a kid is places on scholarship you cant back pay from previous years? Or after the kid graduates you cant waive or pay off they school loan?

    1. Yes, and the prop 96 or whatever it was where we could take kids that wouldn’t get in elsewhere like Tomich. Once we went to the Big12 Texas squashed that and wouldn’t allow it anymore. But teams like Kansas State did it through the JUCO system and that’s how they got on the map while we basically scrapped it.

      To your last paragraph, all of that is illegal and we would get put on probation. If you could just cancel student loans or payments after school is out, every single school like Alabama or Clemson would have 80 kids coming in a year. But walk-ons do get annual scholarships on occasion like Damian Jackson. Who was on scholarship last year but not other years.

      1. Thanks for the reply, and sorry for my horrible grammar and spelling. Always trying to type fast while at work. Love having Neb football talk with a reasonable source and fan, lol.

      2. Sometimes it’s not the most fun information, but it gives a bit of what we are up against sometimes. Hoping our special teams and offense kick it into another gear this year.

      3. BYU has a NIL deal set-up with a company that provides all walk-ons with Full tuition.

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