If any of you followed me on the other site before, you probably read that I was trying to calm the masses about just how much NIL would help us. Many people thought “we are Nebraska and have a great backing in the community” and other things along those lines. I tried giving a warning that while those things were true, we were never going to outspend some SEC trust fund baby blowing the nest egg to get a recruit to sign with their team. Fast-forward to the first signing day where NIL mattered, and according to Rivals Nebraska had its worst finish in conference overall (9th) and second worst finish in conference for average star ranking (7th, 2014) since joining the league.
Not exactly how we thought it would go, is it? I tried to warn people, but it was the offseason and we always win that here at Nebraska.
But I can’t put a ton of blame on Frost or his staff. They were doing things how the NCAA intended. Nick Saban went on a great rant about it a month or so ago, and this whole NIL thing was designed so kids could make money off their successes at a school, it was not designed to pay massive sums of money to recruits just to sign the dotted line. Nebraska was playing the game how it was supposed to be, telling kids when they get here we have opendorse, Runza, FNB, car dealerships, and all these other businesses you can partner with to make loads of money. If you are a generic fan and even a recruit, it sounds great. Until you take your trip to Texas A&M who spent close to 35 million dollars on recruits just to sign their name on the letter of intent. So when you look at it from a recruits perspective, I can go to Nebraska and maybe get a lot of money, or I can sign with A&M and for sure get a lot of money. We had to switch up our game a bit…
So let me backtrack a tad. If you also remember from the other site, I mentioned that when Terry Joseph got here the one reason he had such a short stint was because he made mention to Pelini that when you add up the hour drive to Eppley to get on a commerical plane, get there an hour early to board the flight, it was time wasted. “By the time I was taking off on Southwest for Nebraska, I actually was already in front of the recruit at Tennessee flying charter planes. That doesn’t even take into account flight time and if the recruit is a couple hours from the airport.” He was right, imagine having an 8AM flight for Nebraska where you leave Lincoln at 6AM, but if you are in Knoxville and leave at 6AM, you are already at the recruits school by 8AM. Terry Joseph changed our game a bit, Bo initially went to Eichorst saying he needed more money for 1 or 2 recruiting staffers in an effort to lighten Ross Els’ load (who was special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and linebackers coach at the time, think about that for a minute). He got told no, so his other option was to do a presentation with Jeff Jamrog to boosters about how far we travel to get to recruits and what SEC schools are doing, and that if we want to keep up we need access to private planes. Inevitably Bo was told no by Eichorst and didn’t get as much as he could if he would have had help from the AD, but Mike Riley was given those things. Joseph changed the game for us, but it was too late for Bo (probably shouldn’t F-bomb your boss either but that’s for another article).
Let’s now get back to present day Nebraska, Mickey Joseph shows up and nearly right away says “your plan to get these kids here with money tomorrow instead of today isn’t going to work. We have to show them value to sign.” You all of a sudden are giving six figures to Trey Palmer and Casey Thompson. You are able to get guys like Tommi Hill, Stephon Wynn, Mathis, Drew, Washington, and Williams. In year 5, it was so important to get guys in that had some D1 experience, because this staff does not have the time to sit and wait for the recruits to develop, let alone when they aren’t the caliber we were used to getting.
And i’ve long said this that was somewhat sobering… but for everyone that thinks Nebraska needs to recruit like Ohio State and Alabama to compete with them, we aren’t going to get there overnight and that’s a losing battle for high school kids. We can’t compete with their NIL and we aren’t winning right now. However, we have the ability to up our talent level by taking the guys that make their way out of those schools. We landed former five star Tyreke Johnson from Ohio State, we landed former four star Markese Stepp from USC, we landed former four star Oliver Martin, Ezra Miller, and Darrion Daniels. That is going to boost our recruiting rankings and our overall composite team talent.
I used those names in the previous paragraphs for a reason, because I feel it’s what everyone is excited about now. We grabbed two guys from Alabama, a guy from LSU, 2 guys from Texas, all highly rated. But it really hasn’t been the highly rated guys that have been helping us. Toure from FCS was a stud, Tre Neal from Go5 started all the games for us. So instant transfers from high level places that didn’t make it really haven’t been our best option.
But let me bring it back to a positive here, Casey Thompson is going to start for us. Trey Palmer is going to start for us, those guys are great additions. It’s almost a certainty that Drew or Wynn will start for us. We needed immediate help in a lot of places, and our staff went out and achieved that. That was what they had to do, and Mickey Joseph executed it flawlessly.
Is that the best long term plan?
So again, we are getting highly rated guys, but it’s the guys not playing elsewhere. While Thompson started for Texas, read in their blogs how they upgraded the QB position with him leaving. You read about how we upgraded the QB position in Lincoln even though where the kid left is saying they upgraded. I get it, every school wins the offseason like we do in Lincoln, everyone is 0-0 right now. My question is, is it better to build from recruits that know your system or try to get instant impact? Nebraska can get these once highly recruited guys after they don’t make the field at Bama or Ohio State, but is that better than getting guys like Garrett Nelson, Ben Stille, Adrian Martinez, Austin Allen, or Ty Robinson out oh high school and developing them?
Look, we had to get short term fixes so i’m quite pleased with what our staff did there. The problem becomes if you rely on transfers the whole time, you can pretty quickly fall into the situation Fred Hoiberg is in where the roster is different every year and you don’t have a culture (I realize it’s basketball just was going with an analogy people could relate to). Again, we needed to do this, I just am hoping we get back to some good foundation recruits for the 2023 class. Because crossing our fingers that guys who didn’t work out elsewhere will work out here is a dicey game. Our staff knows that. It’s really tough to be mad at the incoming talent though. With that said, I would have took keeping Casey Rogers over hoping a transfer is better. I would have loved having a 5 year starter back at QB with Whipple leading him rather than hoping Thompson works out. There’s pros and cons, just depends which side of the fence you are on for what you promote.
“Most talented team i’ve been a part of” – Adrian Martinez 2022 Kansas State
Everyone was quite up in arms about this statement. But let’s be real, what is the dude supposed to say? I don’t believe Martinez with this comment here any more than I believe Thompson trying to say our OL is better than what he had at Texas with our best guy leaving and our next best 2 players our for the entirety of spring.
While I don’t believe they are more talented, I do think that Kansas State is better coached than we have been the last 4 years. Pretty tough to argue that, their head coach has a winning record and has gone to 2 bowl games in 3 seasons at the helm. So either they are better coached, or they are more talented. I still believe it’s the former not the latter.
What I was really excited to see was Martinez with a good offensive QB coach like Whipple. I was never a fan of Verduzco, and I think Whipple could have calmed Martinez down a bit. But at the end of the day, we were asking Martinez to do too much, and a separation was best for both parties most likely.
What’s to come
It’s been awhile so i’ll put another one out on our 2023 in-state class of recruits that is getting deep in a hurry, as there are 9 kids with P5 offers. While Nebraska did not fair well in 2022, they will be able to reverse course this year with a renewed energy. More to come in the next few days.
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