A bulk of the heavy lifting for college football teams and recruiting is done during the June and July periods before the senior years start for kids and fall camp gets going for the coaches. It’s crazy to see just how much things have accelerated when it comes to this. I can remember even as close as the Bo era having conversations on message boards about just how crazy Texas is to have their entire class filled before the season starts. There were definitely positives, but I know one of the “slams” to that was that didn’t give them a chance to go after any “late bloomers” that may be sitting around. Further, you didn’t get to see the development the final year for the recruit at his high school. Fast forward to 2023, and most schools are close to 20 commits already. When you consider the transfer portal being such a big part of recruiting now as well, that’s a lot. Let’s dive into how Nebraska is doing so far…
First, Nebraska sits 39th in the Rivals overall recruiting rankings. I’ve always said two things to people 1) I am not comparing us nationally right now, we need to compete within our conference and more importantly within our division. People would of course say “oh so you don’t want to get as good of players as Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama?!” Of course I do, but we are trying to have a conversation about something that can actually happen, so let’s not get the cart in front of the horse. Let’s try to get to a bowl game before we start talking about getting to CFP games and equaling talent. But 2) it’s more about average star ranking as well. There’s no secret that teams like Iowa used to have way more commits than us and would be sitting 10th nationally all excited, only to see them fall behind on signing day.
Nebraska currently sits 10th in the B1G overall, and 8th in the B1G in average star ranking. A big ‘oof’ so far. That’s a tough pill for me to swallow with teams like Iowa, Northwestern, and Indiana ahead of us in average star ranking. I’m not worried about teams like Purdue and Maryland being ahead of us overall, because again it’s about quality you bring in. I also didn’t mention Michigan State killing it right now, and as much as i’m not really a Mel Tucker fan, what he is doing is working. He essentially laid the blueprint for what I wanted Frost to do when he came here. Tucker up in East Lansing said you are either in or you are out, and forced a ton of player to transfer. In turn, he brought in 20+ transfer portal players before the 2021 season, and led them to an 11-2 season while playing in a college gameday atmosphere.
The 180 degree situation Nebraska has landed themselves in, is blaming a prior regime for culture while being in year 4 and not even sniffing a bowl game. With the transfer portal being around the entire time this staff has been here, that’s inexcusable in my opinion. Ok, rant over, how is our recruiting looking?
Nebraska has two 4 stars committed, our second recruit in the class Gottula, a lineman from Lincoln Southeast. And a 4 star WR out of Louisiana that our new ace recruiter Mickey Joseph pulled in. With that said, we have a ton of guys that while they may not be 4 stars, i’m pretty excited about them.
Dwight Bootle was our third commit, and is the brother of Dicaprio that played here under Fisher. If nothing else, his bloodlines and knowing what he is getting into with Fisher as coach from his brother makes me pumped.
I also really like Jaidyn Doss out of Missouri, as well as guys like Maverick Noonan and Ben Brahmer who are in-state kids that I feel are steals and will play above their ratings.
I would be upset with myself if I didn’t address the QB situation, though. I understand we grabbed our OC from the Northeast, and we pulled in William Watson from Massachusetts. But in my opinion when you have a kid in the state of Nebraska going P5 at that spot, you need to have him coming to Lincoln. Nebraska never offered Zane Flores from Gretna, and he was at minimum worth one. I just think there was definitely a way we could have worked him in with the numbers. Whether that was telling your 2022 commit who verballed to a different OC and blew his knee out you were going a different direction before he signed, or if that was taking him AND Watson, I just think we should have found a way. It doesn’t make sense to me.
But i’ll try to circle this back positive and do a little in-state talk…
2023 In-State Class
This group went from having about 3 or 4 P5 kids to all of a sudden having 10 players with Power 5 offers. And if any of you read me on the other message board, you knew I was pissed off about how we handled in-state guys. From one of our coaches saying “if you were from Florida you would already have an offer” to an in-state guy, to something as awful as no communication while Fleck, Ferentz, and Campbell have already spoken to another one many times, it just needed to get better. Mike Schaeffer from 247 even went as far as calling it “nothing short of absurd how little these coaches are actually at games evaluating our in-state guys” on the radio. I have to agree, the effort just wasn’t there, and I let people know about it.
It was a tough pill for people to swallow, but it wasn’t coming from nowhere. We are now here in the 2023 class and I can’t believe the difference a year makes (and Mickey Joseph/Bill Busch being full-time on staff). The Cornhuskers all of a sudden have in-state as a priority, and they are cashing in in a big way. Of the 9 players currently holding P5 offers, we have reeled in 5 of them with a chance to get the biggest catch of them all in Malachi Coleman. While he didn’t grow up a Nebraska fan, it gives me hope knowing Mickey Joseph is recruiting a kid 10 minutes from where he lives. At minimum we have our shot.
To continue the hype train for us, 2 of those 9 kids we basically told we were not interested, so while I disagree with them doing that for Flores, the WR from Lincoln High was told there is no room for you at Nebraska. So we didn’t even really “miss” on that guy.
I will go a little negative real quick, we messed up not getting Flores and I won’t belabor that point. But we also messed up with Kade McIntyre, an athlete out of Fremont Bergan who once Iowa offered we needed to pull the trigger. I even told someone via twitter “we better not screw around and offer him, once an SEC school comes calling his family is gonna get pissed that we tried slow-playing”. Sure as the day is long, Tennessee offers and we offer a couple hours later just trying to play catch up. We were dead in the water. Once a power like Oklahoma offered, it was game over. It was Harrison Philips all over again, you just shouldn’t get outevaluated by external schools for your in-state kids.
Let’s see if we can reel in Coleman in October (his announcement month) and if that happens, this will be one of the best hauls Nebraska has had in-state.
For those who have followed me, I often times said if I were head coach, people would have to deal with slightly lower team recruiting rankings because Nebraska would be a priority. In turn, many of our kids are rated lower. I’m not going “2 star talent 5 star heart” argument here, but I think a guy like Ben Brahmer, Brock Knuston, Maverick Noonan, those guys are worth getting here every day of the week. Further, they are playing in front of their families, so the desire goes further than any 7 on 7 camp/game can measure.
What I mean by that is with us ramping up in-state recruiting, it means we were gonna slide a bit with recruiting. And with the transfer portal, I think that’s ok. While I like where we are right now, if you remember before they kicked me off the other message board, I told people it won’t matter where we are heading into the 2023 season anyway in terms of recruiting. If we fail to make a bowl game, pretty much anyone but the Nebraska kids are gone. Conversely, if we somehow rattle off 8-4, contract extensions get put in place, all of a sudden some kids that didn’t like the uncertainty of things in year 5 become more comfortable taking a look at us.
Let’s just make sure we are 3-1 coming off Oklahoma and see what happens in the month of October, that’s where we are going to figure out where we go from here.
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