The Pyform Recruiting Scenario

I didn’t want this talk track to have people lose sight of the incredible job Rhule and staff have done recruiting. Hats off to them and what they have put together. But if you remember in a previous article of mine, I made mention that i’m not sure I would take a flyer on some of these “lesser ranked” or “under the radar” guys this early in the cycle. We talked about it with Pyform here:

Matt Rhule and staff did an unbelievable job recruiting in-state guys like Pyform who really didn’t want anything to do with us and turning them into guys that wanted to be in Lincoln. In fact, I have it on pretty good authority that Pyform still wanted N, his spot was just gone as he waited too long.

Rhule and his staff originally started recruiting Pyform as a tackle, but instantly talked about how they would teach him how to snap because in the NFL only 8 linemen suit up and that would make it so he had a better shot to be one of those guys. It soon morphed into Rhule and Raiola thinking he may be better suited for interior, but the option was open.

Pyform ends up spending an unofficial to Nebraska, then heads down for the spring game on another. While he lives in Omaha, he hadn’t been able to experience something like that, and loved the environment and coaches. And the staff was putting on the full-court press with him. Ed Foley stopped by Omaha Central, then Matt Rhule, then Satterfield, and then Raiola. It was obvious they were not only making Caleb a priority, but they were making the state of Nebraska and Omaha a priority.

Pyform was being recruited by Penn State, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, and of course Nebraska. He locked in an official visit to Illinois for June 23rd back in early May. While that was going to be a big weekend for Nebraska, it actually worked out in both parties favor (in my opinion) that he came to the first weekend. It showed he was a top guy on their board and that they wanted him.

Rhule and the staff were very up front with him, they wanted him. But from what I gather they also were wondering “what more do you need to see”. Pyform from all accounts wanted to give the courtesy to other schools that were recruiting him hard for a long time the official visits he promised. Rhule and staff understood, but then told him “look, we are also holding camps next weekend. We can’t guarantee the spot will still be here if you wait until you take all of your visits.” We all know what happened next as Nebraska held camps and found Jake Peters from Cedar Falls, Iowa and Landen Davidson from Colorado. Both of which come to their official visit while Caleb is at Minnesota, and they get the same talk track as Pyform. “We have two spots left, first two to grab them are N.” Both commit less than a week after their visit and less than two weeks after getting their offer. Pyform wanting to give the courtesy to Illinois essentially left him on the outside looking in.

It’s tough for me to be mad at Rhule on this, but allow me to try (just wait I’ll circle back positive later since it’s a Friday).

If you remember, I made some comments about how i’m not sure you need to reach for guys like Jake Peters who chose us over military and Go5 schools, or Landen Davidson who was Colorado State bound before the Nebraska offer. Because let me compare them to Pyform for a moment…

Pyform is from the state of Nebraska, who has a former Nebraska player coaching him. While i’m not one of those that say we need every single in-state guy, I do think getting Power 5 in-state guys matters. But let’s say in-state doesn’t matter to you…

Pyform is ranked as the best OL prospect in Nebraska, and ranked much higher than Davidson and Peters according to nearly every recruiting site. But let’s say rankings don’t matter to you…

Pyform had offers from Bielema (who sees him as a tackle by the way which we desperately need), Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota, and Penn State. All of those coaches know how to evaluate offensive linemen. Davidson while he had offers from Kansas and Wazzu, was basically heading to Fort Collins. Peters was still waiting on his first Power 5 offer. But let’s say offers don’t matter to you…

Pyform plays for a school that is going to have multiple D1 players come through it. In fact, they already have two others in Tory Pittman (offered by Nebraska already) as well as Dashawn Prince (offered by Nebraska). As important as the pipeline of Bellevue West is, schools like Omaha Central, Omaha North, and Omaha Westside are close to the same.

I just think you didn’t need to rush with those guys and shut out the in-state highly ranked player with a ton of offers. If you miss on Davidson because you are a week late, so what? If you miss on Petes because you are two weeks late, so what? But I could also make the same argument on Pyform, we missed on him, so what? All 3 of those guys while i’m happy we have them, their caliber of player is something you can find a lot of places, a lot of guys with those skillsets are uncommitted or maybe not even discovered yet. Would there really be anything wrong with watching senior film and finding a “late bloomer” for the IOL if waiting for Pyform backfired? Again, I just give the edge to Pyform due to the in-state presence, ranking, and offers.

So let’s circle back to positive… again it is Friday. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Rhule and his staff going 100% at a kid and after you try for 6 months and he’s still not sure, you start moving down your board. Especially when these offers are coming after getting eyes on Davidson and Peters during camp. While i’m not saying Pyform is going to be better than either of these two, Rhule knows what he wants in a recruit and that’s what matters most to me.

And someone brought up a great point in my DMs… It used to be with Frost, Riley, and Pelini, that you would go and take some flyers on kids in December to fill out your class. You were doing that off of film and many times you hadn’t evaluated them in person. With what Rhule is doing, while he may be filling up early and shutting a guy like Pyform out later, they are getting guys they’ve seen and liked how they moved around.

Further, if Peters and Davidson go to another schools camp and impress, who is to say a school like Colorado doesn’t land Davidson or that maybe Illinois ends up with Peters? Rhule didn’t want to take that chance, and I completely get it.

Summing this up, I am anxious to see how this recruiting strategy plays out over time. We haven’t even seen a game coached by this staff yet, but I do like what they are doing in the offseason. And I think it takes some time to figure out how to recruit if you are them. This isn’t Temple. This isn’t Baylor. Every place is unique. They are figuring out what works, and what doesn’t. And quite frankly, after this 2023 season there will be some hurdles where they have to pivot a bit and adjust what they look for. But it’s too early to bitch about those things now. I wish Pyform was coming to Lincoln, but he had his chance to say yes.

Just like with Frosts first full recruiting class in 2019, where he grabbed OL Benhart, Piper, Fritzsche, Lynn, Anderson, Banks, and Bland, I told people “I can tell you exactly how the Frost tenure will go based on how these guys do.” Well, Benhart and Piper are the only two even still here and playing with any regularity, the rest are completely gone. While Rhule hasn’t gone as much off the rails with the OL as that 2019 class with Frost, I do think it has enough intrigue for me to say “I wonder if this strategy will work or if we will morph it a bit in the future”. Heck, if we get to a bowl game in 2023 we may have a massively different caliber of recruit looking our way anyway.

In Rhule I Trust.

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4 thoughts on “The Pyform Recruiting Scenario

  1. I actually think this was handled 100% correctly by Rhule and staff. You set the precedent now, in-state recruit or not, that if you receive a committable offer from us and a timeline to accept it, you run the risk of losing the spot if you don’t stay within the discussed timeline.

    This is an example of honest, open communication with no surprises. Just like in sales or business, the way to usually get the result you want is to be able to create a fear of loss that inspires action. If recruits know they can’t drag their feet, and IF they truly want to be a Husker, they aren’t going to worry about hurting other coach’s feelings about visits or try to get a few more free trips. If those things are important to the recruit, that is fine, but as a coach I am pivoting to the next comparable athlete that is ready to go.

    Obviously, 4 & 5 stars are an exception, and you may not draw as firm a line in the sand. But, the long term benefits of being able to point to the time NU put the full court press on the #1 OL in the state, gave him every opportunity to commit, told him he could lose his spot if he delays, and he still decides to not pull the trigger in the timeframe that is best for NU, then you will be able to truly create a fear of loss in the next recruit and many of the recruiting games are eliminated.

    1. I agree. I can’t be mad that they set the precedent and stuck to it. While I would have waited another month for Pyform if need be, I completely get why Rhule and staff didn’t. Local recruits should be the ones that see you all the time (like what Rhule and staff are doing now) and they commit to you because they feel the most comfortable. Get to a bowl game in 2023 and all of a sudden you are really going to be in a good spot.

  2. The Rhule staff seems to prioritize “Nastiness” among their OL recruits, the same way that they prioritize “Speed” among the skill position recruits. All 3 of our OL recruits seemed to show that trait in their film; I don’t know to what degree Pyform has that.

    Hopefully this aggressiveness in our OL will show up on the field. No more looking great getting off the bus, then playing patty cake with the guy across the line.

    BTW, thank you for the great selection of Husker gear on your new site. I’ll be adding to my never-ending collection.

    1. I love that we are looking for “football players” when looking at film in positions like the OL. Conversely, I am curious to see how some of the guys that are great at track but good at football pan out.

      Awesome to hear about the store! I have some new ones dropping later this month so people can stock up. I have a few that are pretty cool (at least I think so).

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