The bulk of Matt Rhule’s first Nebraska recruiting class was signed, sealed and delivered before noon Wednesday, the first day prospects could sign letters of intent.
Things went mostly as expected for the Huskers early in the day with one big surprise: 4-star Lincoln East wide receiver Malachi Coleman picked Nebraska over a late-charging Colorado. Coleman originally committed to the Huskers in October, citing his close relationship with former interim head coach Mickey Joseph. When Rhule was announced as the next coach, Coleman reopened his recruitment, but Nebraska’s new staff kept after it.
Coleman, with a .9590 composite rating from 247 Sports, is the highest-rated player in the 2023 class so far. In addition to signing 19 high school and junior college prospects Wednesday, the Huskers have also added five players so far via the transfer portal: EDGE Chief Borders, DB Corey Collier, LS Marco Ortiz (all from Florida), QB Jeff Sims (Georgia Tech) and, a new addition, WR Josh Fleeks (Baylor).
With the dust mostly settled on Nebraska’s 2023 class for now, here are some thoughts, numbers and observations on the newest Huskers.
- The class was nearly evenly split between inherited and new commits. Ten Huskers stuck with their commitment through the coaching change, while Rhule and staff added nine new players since taking over at the end of November. Ellenwood, Georgia, wide receiver Barry Jackson, a holdover from the previous staff, was the only player expected to sign who had yet to do so as of this publication. There was some chatter that Jackson could be considering a late flip to Louisville, now under the direction of former Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm.
- Rhule put together a fast class quickly. This staff’s love of track speed isn’t just a talking point. The Huskers signed Omaha Westside wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd. He had the fastest 100-meter time in Nebraska last spring (10.43) according to Athletic.net. Coleman had the fastest 200-meter time in the state (21.31). Texas athlete Brice Turner might take the fastest-in-class title, however. He was the Texas 4A outdoor state champion in 2022 in the 100 and 200, posting personal records in both in the state final. Turner ran a 10.25 100 and 21.04 200. Both ranked among the 10 fastest in Texas last spring.
- If you’re a trenches traditionalist, all four of the Huskers’ offensive linemen in the class to this point are from Nebraska: Gunnar Gottula (Lincoln Southeast), Brock Knutson (Scottsbluff), Sam Sledge (Creighton Prep) and Mason Goldman (Gretna).
- For our March 2021 issue, I built a rough model meant to project how likely a signee was to leave Nebraska before his eligibility was up (not including early entrees to the NFL Draft). It was based on three measurable factors: distance from Lincoln, rating (247 Composite) and time committed. Is it science? I wouldn’t call it that, but it is a model with the same criteria for each Nebraska class since it joined the Big Ten in 2011. Entering today, the 2011 class through 2022, the Huskers’ actual attrition rate with scholarship signees was 44% with the model projecting 39.7%. In terms of players, 103 of 234 signees actually left Lincoln against a projection of 93 departures. The model is undershooting a bit, but we’ll leave it for now (and tinker with it in the true offseason).
- Based on all of the above, the 2023 class has a slightly lower attrition probability of 38%. Last year’s class was at 40% and the 2021 group, the first to have immediate eligibility as a transfer, was at 35.7%. For the Scott Frost era as a whole, Nebraska had a 39.2% attrition probability (actual: 42.7%). Rhule’s first class is scoring a bit better because it’s a little more local with the average distance of a recruit from Lincoln of 495 miles. The low of the Frost era was 651 miles (2022) with an average since 2011 of 503.
- This class also has a slightly lower attrition probability because it’s a little bit lower rated on average (.8730), but nothing too far outside the norm of the past decade. The average signee in the Frost era was .8800, slightly better than the average of .8732 for the total span.
- That said, the 2023 class could end up in a similar spot in the team rankings as most past Husker classes. Coleman’s commitment bumped Nebraska from 44th at the start of the day to 32nd at 247 as of noon on Wednesday, from 34th to 26th at Rivals and from 37th to 32nd at On3.
- Update, 6 p.m. – The Huskers added a pair of high school signees in the afternoon: Pennsylvania defensive lineman Vincent Carroll-Jackson (a Syracuse commit entering the day) and Oklahoma linebacker Eric Fields. Nebraska also landed a transfer commitment from defensive lineman Elijah Jeudy of Texas A&M. The additions bumped Nebraska class up a spot at 247 to 31st nationally, Rivals had the class at 26th and On3 ranked it 31st on Wednesday evening.
- Catch out full recap of Matt Rhule’s signing day press conference here.