Analyzing the recent run of commits

If you’re like me, when Matt Rhule was hired you looked at his track record of turning around programs like Temple and Baylor and thought to yourself “if he can do it at those two spots, certainly he can do it here.” Temple was competing against Penn State, Baylor was going up against the Longhorns and Aggies, and all we had to do at Nebraska is figure out ways to beat the likes of Iowa and Wisconsin. While those programs have had more consistency lately than those teams he was facing in Texas, their recruiting wasn’t anywhere close to them.

When I looked at things, there was no doubt that Rhule maximized the talent he brought in. There were articles written about how he revamped what they looked for at Temple in a recruit, it beefed up a bit to better players when he got to Waco, and I figured even if he just recruits at the same level as Frost, Riley, or Pelini, the development would be so good that 8 or 9 wins would start clicking off easily.

But something interesting has happened that is starting to worry the masses. According to Rivals, out of our first 14 commits, only one is rated a 4 star. Since Rivals has recorded things (20+ years), that has only happened twice to Nebraska. The first was when we fired Solich and took 45 days to replace him with Callahan which bled into recruiting season (2004 class). The second, was Frosts 2022 class where he was on the hot seat and was able to return if he fired half of his staff.

While I do think there are a couple guys committed that will get a four star bump like Kaelin, it did start to get even more alarming with the last 6 commits this staff has pulled in. Nebraska is currently sitting 7th overall according to Rivals in the B1G. But that doesn’t really matter, I remember when Iowa was excited about their top 10 ranking in May roughly a decade ago, only to finish around 25th. The real show of things is average star ranking, and unfortunately we are sitting 10th in the B1G currently. I do think we have some guys committing in the very near future that will bump us up (more on that later). But for the first time in awhile Nebraska is low in average star rankings grabbing some “diamonds in the rough” or “reaches” early in the class as opposed to having a high ranking early and then have it go down a bit as we fill in the class with some lower rated players. I go over the recent commits in this article:

Kamdyn Koch – Punter – 5.4 2 star
This was the first for me in what ended up being 6 head tilting commitments. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Kamdyn is the son of former punter Sam Koch. What was interesting for me is typically Nebraska would get specialists to walk-on where they would be groomed to take over and earn a scholarship the last few years of their career here. Guys like Kamdyns dad, Alex Henery, Sam Foltz, and others would come wait their turn then know if they earned a starting job their school would end up being paid for. But those days seem to be long gone, as Kamdyn didn’t have an offer from anywhere other than Nebraska according to Rivals. He is ranked as the #1 punter in the country according to On3. So with Foley changing things a bit in grabbing Alvano from Westside, Ortiz from Florida, and now Koch, it made sense. Specialists “don’t matter” until you don’t have them. While Buschini has technically 2 years of eligibility remaining, Koch appears to be his successor.

Jake Peters – OL – 5.5 3 star
The next commit after Koch was Jake Peters, an interior lineman from Iowa who is a 5.5 (lowest 3 star) according to Rivals. Peters had offers from the military academies, Ivy League schools, FCS programs, and then Coastal Carolina as well as UAB. Nebraska was the first Power 5 offer according to Rivals and he pounced on it. This recruitment moved fast, as Keith Williams called Peters close to a month ago inviting him to Lincoln for a camp. Peters showed up for our staff to get eyes on him and they were so impressed we offered on the spot afterwards, even informing him they could see him doing well on the DL as well. Peters ended up committing roughly a week later. Standing only 6’3″, it’s clear this staff isn’t setting height as as much of a priority as the previous staff. Many times, Peters is quoted to say “they love how I play the game” which I interpret as someone that is a football player and aggressive. While it’s an intriguing prospect, with Iowa and Iowa State both not offering (though Iowa State may be full at OL), it makes you wonder what we see that they don’t.

Braylen Prude – DB/LB – 5.5 3 star
In what is becoming a common theme, Braylen Prude becomes a guy this staff was alerted to keep an eye on from down in Texas. Prude’s only offers are from Eastern Illinois and Lane College, which immediately sends red flags up. Nebraska held a satellite camp down in Houston on June 6th where they discovered Prude who is 6’5″ and could grow into more of a hypbrid DB/LB role that our 3-3-5 affords us. With the limited film and lack of offers, again you sat back and wondered just what did this staff know that other staffs didn’t? It’s why some of these camps are so important, but it will definitely be something to watch in the future.

Callen Barta – DB – 5.4 2 star
Barta is from the extremely Topeka, Kansas which is a recruiting ground that Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa, and Iowa State battle over as well as the Oklahoma and Arkansas of the world. Barta’s only offer is from Nebraska, and the commitment came a week after Barta camped with Nebraska and DB coach Evan Cooper got eyes on him. There’s not a ton to know about Barta, so at this point it became extremely evident this staff is trusting their evaluation skills (which should be something coaches are pretty good at).

Evan Taylor – DB – 5.5 3 star
We stick with the 5.4 or 5.5 lowly ranked DB commitments, as Taylor mostly had Ivy League and FCS offers. He did take a visit to Rutgers earlier in June, but for the most part we were the only Power5 suitor for Taylor. East Carolina was in the mix as well, and this staff keeping with their M.O. grabbed a track star who as been clocked at 10.6 in the 100 and 21.7 in the 200. It’s pretty easy to see why DBs are flocking to this team, we play 5 of them and even some that come in as DBs have a chance to shift to LB in this scheme that uses speed and athleticism more than size and power.

Landen Davidson – OL 5.5 3 star
Davidson finally breaks the streak of us competing against no one and has some Power 5 offers. Colorado, Kansas, amongst others, had offers out to him. He came to camp on June 11th and was given an offer from Rhule and Raiola after that. He decided to come on an official visit June 18th the following weekend where he gave his pledge to the Cornhuskers. Once Nebraska offered after his camp, Colorado (who has an outstanding OL coach) re-offered him. He also had plans to head to Colorado State for a visit but has since cancelled those.

Donovan Jones – DB – 5.5 3 star
Jones picked up an offer after a camp (surprise surprise) and was mostly hearing from FCS teams before Craig Bohl and Wyoming got ahold of him. Jones was a third team all-metro selection that “tests well” according to his high school coach. Which is a common theme for these guys, and i’m hoping it translates to the field.

Land the plane and sum it up SSO

I have to be honest, I am a little concerned here. As we already discussed, I was pretty pumped for this staff to just recruit at the same level as Frost, Riley, and Pelini, and then you had quotes like this from Rhule:

He was right, he was already recruiting some pretty decent classes at Baylor, what would happen if he had the power of the red ‘N’ out on the trail? But these last 6 commits made me go from that excitement to “what changed”? For all of these commitments, we didn’t need a logo that spoke for itself, we could have been San Jose State and stolen that recruit from Lane College. Our highest ranked player according to On3 we beat out Texas Tech for.

I’m not trying to dog the situation, I just thought it would go different so i’m just trying to figure things out. To me, a coaches eyes and knowing what he has on the team and comparing that to what the recruit shows you in a camp session is about as good as you can do for evaluations. If the coach knows what they are doing. There have been too many times in the past where our evaluations flat out missed.

And it’s not like we haven’t done these camps before… heck Mike Riley did the Friday Night Lights camp and opened it to the public where we got a glimpse of guys like Micah Parsons (who many may not know but was a silent commit to us and Trent Bray before the staff got fired). We’ve done these evaluatons before, so much like my Elite 11 stance from my article yesterday, maybe I just have PTSD from previous staffs.

And this isn’t your previous staffs. One of the other things I like is if they get their eye on someone in camp, they schedule an official visit for the following weekend. That happened on more than one ocassion with these recruits. That makes some huge momentum for you with recruits and locks other schools out.

And I went back to look at Rhule’s first full recruiting class when he was at Baylor… Of his first 17 recruits to commit, there was only one four star that committed. In fact, it took him until December to get his second four star. Here is the mix:

5.8 (1)
5.7 (8)
5.6 (4)
5.5 (3)
5.4 (1)

While we are 2 short of those commits yet, here is the mix for at Nebraska:

5.8 (1)
5.7 (4)
5.6 (2)
5.5 (6)
5.4 (2)

While there are some adjustments that happen with ratings, you can see that Nebraska doesn’t have as many fringe 3 or 4 stars that are 5.7s and actually we have more guys that are fringe 2 or 3 stars. But as we wrote about in this article, not many of the recruits from the first full class are called on when he was producing in year 3:

Allow me to go ‘pet peeve’ for a second before I bring this back positive… I really really really hate the narrative “well we’ve tried getting the four star recruits and they weren’t good and our recruiting rankings didn’t show on the field so why not try the diamonds in the rough?!” I mean, just say that out loud. Are we really saying that since four stars didn’t work here with Riley and Frost that we should just go after guys no one wants or that no ones discovered yet? I promise you, you can do both, have highly ranked recruits that the coaches develop. I mean, we got so jaded we had people telling us that the Frost just needed his players and were bashing the Davis twins. Ok, my apologies there… I just don’t get that sentiment that we need to go after the players mentioned in this article because 4 stars haven’t worked here in the past completely neglecting all the places four stars have worked. Hashtag rant over.

I’m also anticipating some heavy-hitting Nebraska recruits to land our way in the near future as well which will bolster some rankings and calm the masses a bit. I’m hoping we aren’t just leaning too much on our evaluation skills for lightly recruited guys, we need to win some toe to toe battles against other schools that have shown the ability to evaluate as well. I think we do that soon. Between McMorris, Hall, Pyform, and Nelson, I think we land 3 of those 4. That will really help. So Monday we will have videos, Tuesday we will have updates on the commits from after this article, then Wednesday we will have part 2 of the video breakdowns.

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10 thoughts on “Analyzing the recent run of commits

  1. Great write up like always. With the commits coming right after a camp it does give me a little bit of optimism, if these guys were committing at the last minute then it would be different. I did have a similar talk with some friends about Riley’s Friday Night Light Camps when he had guys like Parsons and Bookie on campus and committing but Rhule is getting the guys he is. I think it could be argued that Riley came into a better position then Rhule but it is still a head scratcher. With that said, I know its a process that will take time to get Nebraska football back to where we all want to be and Urban said during game day that the new staff will have to be great teachers of the game. However I don’t foresee us beating the OSU’s and USC’s of the world with 2* and low 3* guys.

    1. You know, actually that’s a good point about it being after camps as opposed to before signing day in December. Many times it’s not like those guys committing in December we saw in camp, we just had struck out and were going to Plan D guys that we only went off game film for. Sneaky good point there. My only concern would be that what if some kid choosing between us and Georgia or Oklahoma wanted N but we already were full due to these earlier diamond in the rough commitments? Probably a moot point but either way, i’m happy with where we are.

      And our rankings are about to get a big boost.

      1. With the transfer portal i’m ok with the staff going for under the radar guys who they can develop, if it doesnt work out they can transfer to a lower school in a few years. I am also happy with where we are with recruiting, once they start winning it should help to bring in higher rated guys. And as a side note, one of my kid’s is named Callen. Its just a matter of time before Barta becomes a legendary Husker.

  2. I think the staff is trying to get momentum going. If you have no one committed, its hard to get that high rated guy. But if your spots are filling up, you can push a top guy to commit sooner then later.I also think that the staff might not be used to these players jumping on ship right away, so they might need to adjust how they offer some players. A question I have, are these player at the camps some of the top performers or are there better players not getting offers from Nebraska or not committing to Nebraska?

    1. I think that’s true too. I remember the 2014 class Pelini was still sitting at zero commits in March, and they had originally told Luke Gifford they wanted to see senior film to evaluate. They ended up offering him as they knew he would commit right away and get the goose egg off the board. They then didn’t get another commit until June. How crazy is it to think nowadays that we would only have one commit heading into June like we did in 2013 a decade ago? Timeline has really sped up.

      In regards to the camps… these dudes are usually the top performers. 99% of the kids that show up really have no business being there, but Cooper and Rhule will pull the kids aside to do individual work with them that are “showing out”. Typically you get 5 or 6 kids they work individually with and do tours with.

  3. I am really interested to see how this plays out. One time I was watching a documentary about Bill bellichek and he made some comments about the players he was bringing on board that were under rated. He made some comment about how you needed X amount of players to play with nothing to lose. He determined that there was an exact amount. That has always stuck with me. I love the idea…although I get the angst.

    1. I think that’s a good point. It reminds me a bit of a college basketball coach who said he only wanted 8 or 9 guys that were actually eligible to play, and wanted 3 or 4 that were redshirts or sit outs because it doesn’t spread the playing time so thin. With some of these guys, I think they aren’t being promised the world from coaches so they know they aren’t going to be playing right away and aren’t going to grow disgruntled.

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