We have reached the 100-day threshold of the Scott Frost era at Nebraska. What have we learned over that span? All this week we'll be taking a look at the "first 100 days" from a variety angles to help answer that question. First up: recruiting.
Since Scott Frost and his staff took over the Nebraska program in the stretch run to the first early signing period, there has been a lot of focus on their recruiting efforts. It’s pretty widely accepted that the new staff exceeded expectations when it comes to their first class at Nebraska. Remember when some questioned if Frost really wanted to recruit? Or the questions on whether his staff would be able to get talent to Lincoln versus taking the Florida job where, in theory, it is easier to recruit? Those questions are on the back burner for now, but let’s take a look at how the staff has recruited in their first 100 days.
When Frost and his staff took over the team, Nebraska had already lost a handful of top commits and would soon lose wide receiver Joshua Moore. The coaches essentially had to rebuild an entire class, and they did just that. Nineteen of the 24 2018 signees committed after the Frost era began. The staff deserves huge credit for taking the class from one of the worst in the Big Ten (because of the defections) to the third-best class in the conference in short order.
One thing that jumps out about the class of 2018 is the versatility of the players coming in. That is perfectly summed up in Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon who can play safety, linebacker or even put his hand in the dirt in pass rush situations if defensive coordinator Erik Chinander really wants to get creative. Junior college defensive back Deontai Williams can play safety or corner, Cam Taylor can do the same. Four-star outside linebacker/defensive end Caleb Tannor can do multiple things for the defense as well.
On the offensive side of the football, Miles Jones, Justin McGriff and Katerion Legrone are all listed as “athletes” on the Husker roster, which is a designation we all better get used to in the years to come. The top in-state player in 2018, Cam Jurgens, could also play either side of the ball though he will start at tight end. In 2018, the staff laid the blueprint for the types of versatile football players they want to fill the Huskers' roster.
Looking at the big picture, one of the immediate questions when this staff came from Orlando was if they could continue to recruit the Sunshine State and south the way they had been at UCF. In the class of 2018, the answer was yes. The staff signed seven Florida natives as well as prospects from Alabama, Georgia and Texas. Planting roots in the south, particularly in the Jacksonville-area in Florida and Atlanta-area in Georgia will be key for the staff going forward. Based on the 2019 offer activity, the coaches plan to continue making noise in that region.
Another big picture component to Nebraska’s future recruiting success is local recruiting. Nebraska has already made significant strides with the walk-on program, signing 20 preferred walk-ons this class. The development of those players, not the sheer numbers, will be where this staff is ultimately judged with the walk-on program. There is a lot of focus on the 2019 crop of in-state talent and rightfully so. The top-five players in the state are sure fire Division I prospects. Nebraska already has commitments from three of the five, while working hard to gain ground in the recruitment of Omaha Burke teammates linebacker Nick Henrich and tight end Chris Hickman. Nebraska is trying to serve notice in state and so far it is doing well.
Spinning things forward to the next 100 days, the 2019 catch up is in full-effect. When the staff took over at Nebraska it had a lot of relationships with players they were actively recruiting for 2018 and knew they’d have a better shot to close out in short order. For 2019, the coaches have to essentially reset an entire recruiting board and quickly gauge the interest of their targets. A great early indicator of how interested a 2019 prospect is will be if they attend one of the junior days and/or the spring game. Frost himself has admitted they are behind on the 2019 class but expect that to change quickly. The staff has sent out a lot of offers for this recruiting cycle recently as it tries to stock the recruiting boards with good options.
Based on how the coaches built the 2018 recruiting class, I don't think there should be any worry about where they are heading for the 2019 class.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.