We will start with the Daniel Kaelin commitment. The Bellevue West QB is a 3 star recruit across all 4 of the services, and made waves a freshman for the Thunderbirds when Florida State offered him despite him not starting a single game for the varsity team.
QB recruiting sometimes reminds me a bit of baseball recruiting, offers go out so early because teams feel they can project what someone is going to be. I have to admit I was a bit puzzled, as typically if you are going to get a commitment from a QB in your recruiting class, you want to make sure they are actually good on the football field at the high school level. But nevertheless, this is a big pickup.
Kaelin was somewhat in no mans land as a kid who wanted to be a Husker this entire time. The #1 QB in the class of 2024 was a legacy, and while he didn’t live in Nebraska, he was taking multiple visits to the school. If you remember, once Raiola placed a June timeline on his commitment, I told everyone that Kaelin would commit before that in March or so. When you commit to a D1 school, you don’t want the optics to appear like you were a second choice so you went elsewhere. You want people to be happy for you that you are going where you want to be, and that’s what Kaelin did:
Absolutely nothing wrong with that and quite frankly it is what I would have done or encouraged my staff to do. But of course once that happened, you had people starting to talk how this staff “better get Raiola” and “we put all our eggs in one basket” for some reason. Not sure if they were trying to get clicks, trying to ruffle feathers, but that’s just not how this was ever going to go down.
Here’s the deal… Raiola was too good of a prospect to not go all in on. Further, when he’s reciprocating communication, you feel like you have a shot. But the three tweets above illustrate how just because things look a certain way on the surface, doesn’t mean that is the way it is behind the scenes. Rhule and his staff did a phenomenal job with Kaelin. They kept in contact, and were up front saying they are all in on Raiola but if he falls through we want you all day long. There’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion.
As things really started to unravel a bit for the Huskers and Raiola, something interesting happened. Kaelin who was committed to Mizzou decided he was going to take a visit to USC. This was nothing but good news for the Husker staff. It showed that Kaelin wasn’t fully committed to Mizzou, may have just got a place holder, and we knew we still had a chance as long as he didn’t flip before Raiola made a choice.
Listen, for whatever reason the Raiola thing didn’t work out whether it be Georgia was always going to get him, NIL, conflict with 1890, offense not looking like what he wanted to be in, Rhule and the staff did what they needed to going after him. Further, they did what they needed to to keep an in-state QB from leaving for another year. Kaelin finally makes it official once the staff sees Raiola go to Athens and it doesn’t take long at that point:
Huge pickup on multiple fronts. First, it allows us to not lose the best QB in the state again. If some of you remember, I was all in on Zane Flores and how perfect he would have been in Whipples offense and of course now with Satterfields. The old staff doesn’t offer, take some kid from Massachusetts who ends up going to VA Tech that is taking 2 QBs and a transfer QB because they are desperate. The past staff preached Nebraska ties and the Nebraska way, but many times I just didn’t see it.
Secondly, don’t forget that the school Kaelin is coming from has been a D1 factory. They have 3 of the top 4 players in the state (behind Carter Nelson at #1) in Isaiah McMorris and Dae’Vonn Hall who are elite WRs for the next level. And they have been churning out players like that for the past few years. Getting an in like that is huge.
I also was one of the people that had to calm the masses about people saying the Bell West coach was a Nebraska hater. His guys were choosing to go elsewhere because the relationships with the Nebraska staff weren’t good for his players, and quite frankly Nebraska wasn’t producing draft picks. His basement is littered with Nebraska stuff. As one of my coaching buddies said, “it’s not the coaches job to steer a kid somewhere, it’s the universities job to recruit them. Nebraska hasn’t done a good job of that.”
One last thing on Kaelin… while he is “only” a three star recruit on all the services, he did receive an Elite11 camp invite:
That doesn’t go out to everyone. Long story short, his recruitment couldn’t have worked out any better for Rhule and his staff. We went hard after a legacy #1 player in the nation, and our backup plan is an in-state Elite 11 contestant that plays with 2 WRs that are getting offers from Penn State, USC, and a multitude of others. Our last staff would have lost both these guys.
Quick take here on this…. many of you may have saw this commitment this week:
Knaak was a consensus 3 star who committed to Utah over offers from Virginia, USC, and Nebraska out of high school. He spent one year there before heading out, redshirting and logging no playing time.
When Nebraska lost Walter Rouse (the Stanford tackle with 30+ starts who committed then flipped to Oklahoma) it was clear Nebraska knew they needed help on the outside of their offensive line. I think spring shed some more light on that. I’ve said before that guys like Ben Scott, Ochaun Mathis, and Walter Rouse are the guys we need to get excited about in the portal that we get because they have starting experience in Power 5 football. Getting a 5 star from Ohio State or 4 star from Alabama is fine, but if they are leaving because they aren’t playing, what are we really getting?
That’s where i’m at with Knaak. He’s a guy that wasn’t ranked too high out of high school, didn’t play at Utah, so how excited should we be?
I’ll just give what I think the truth is here. I believe that Rhule and Raiola see that we have Benhart, Corcoran, and Prochazka at tackle, Hood is still working his way into shape, and while we brought in a bevy of freshmen OL in the 2023 class, we need more. Getting a guy like this that gives you time to develop him while also not bringing in a 7th player to that recruiting class helps space the classes out a bit. Remember, the only offensive lineman on scholarship from the 2022 class was Justin Jenkins. Rhule and staff brought in Jacob Hood from Georgia, and now they have Tyler Knaak.
This is a depth and “give yourself options” play. The tackle development in Lincoln has been complete dog shit for too long. We needed help.
Next week we will go over a couple of the things that have really screwed Nebraska with in-state recruiting and hopefully what is being remedied
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6 thoughts on “Kaelin and Knaak Commitments”
Great write ups the last few days. These are just gold. The communication from Rhule’s staff is just phenomenal, or at least it was in this case.
You mention 1890 issues . . . you’ve mentioned how far behind UNL was in NIL before, but how is it that there are still problems? I hear the 1890 commercials all over the baseball broadcasts, so they seem to have things at least somewhat well in order. Any plans to do a write up on the current status of Nebraska’s NIL later this summer?
I think we are in a way better spot with 1890 now. I think there’s just some spillover from the previous collective that is going to bite us. For example, this Tyreke Johnson stuff may make people think 1890 is an issue, which wasn’t the case for Johnson from what I hear. Another reason it was important to dissolve ABM so we can say it’s not an issue anymore and it has been taken care of.
Totally concur with your assessment of the Raiola/Kaelin recruitment. In this day and age, not many teams are going to be able to get AND KEEP multiple elite quarterbacks. To use a bad analogy, we missed on a Tommie Frazier, but (hopefully) got a Brooke Barringer.
During the recruitment of both, it was hinted that we would move to more of a pro-style offense. Do you think that will happen, or just more pass plays called within the existing offense? I believe I read that Coach Rhule did make adjustments at Temple and Baylor, but I don’t know to what degree.
I think him and Satterfield tailor things to the strengths of the team for sure. For example, I think they know they really need a Sims/Haarberg type QB with the line we have. We just need another player in the running game with how poor our OL has been the past few years. But I think eventually they would like to move a bit more to what Wisconsin used to be in terms of more of a line that dominates without the need for a running QB. I’m not saying we would go that run heavy, just trying to use an analogy.
I feel like Wisconsin is a pretty good fit for the identify of what Rhule envisions his mold of a team as. Physical run game with some pro-style concepts (more under center, play-action, etc), and a running QB bonus but not necessary. He preaches physicality. Now, I don’t think there’s any coach out there who’s going to say “well, our team really doesn’t care about being physical in the game of football…”, but some definitely focus that as more the identity.
I feel like it’s the first time in a while, based off what I hear how the handle practices and the spring-game, that being physical is actually being practiced not just preached. Hopefully it’ll pay dividends in the long run.
I think the change in practices is going to pay dividends more than any scheme change. It was important to just get better at football, not 7 v 7 or tagging off on guys. Of couse we have the most fumbles in NCAA when our guys aren’t used to getting hit.