Even Without Florida
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Even Without Florida, Nebraska Did Well in the SEC Footprint

December 20, 2018

If I had told you on this day a year ago that Nebraska's 2019 recruiting class would enter the next early signing day without a commit from California, Florida or Texas, would you have believed me? Better yet, would you have believed that the class would still be firmly entrenched in the top 25 without a commit from the Big Three?

That was the case for Nebraska as it kicked off the first day of the three-day early signing period. Thanks to the commitment and signing of Houston defensive end Brant Banks, the Huskers won't go 0-for-Texas this cycle but they will likely end early signing without a player from California or Florida, the states that have produced the third- and fourth-most Huskers since the start of the Tom Osborne era.

That could change of course by signing day in February, the actual end to the 2019 recruiting cycle. Nebraska's haul of 23 signees on Wednesday means the class is at least three-fourths full at this point, so there's room for a few more in this group. But the bulk of the class is in, as expected, and for now the unique geography of this class may be one of the more interesting wrinkles early in the Scott Frost era.

Thanks to Hail Varsity editor Mike Babcock and his meticulous record keeping, we have a database of every Nebraska signee since 1973, Osborne's first season as head coach. With that as a guide, here's a quick rundown of some of the geographical quirks in Nebraska's 2019 recruiting class (as it stands today).

NEBRASKA | The Huskers signed five Nebraska natives, the most since Bo Pelini took six in his first class in 2008. Technically speaking, since he was the last to sign, Scottsbluff defensive end Garrett Nelson, became the 300th Nebraska native to sign with the Huskers since 1973. Home-grown players account for 27.2 percent of all the players signed over that span. Next closest is Texas with 131 signees (11.9 percent).

CALIFORNIA | As mentioned above, it's zero for now and if it ends that way in February it will be the first time since 2014 that the Huskers didn't sign a player from California. That has only happened four times since 1973: 1979, 1987, 1998 and 2014.

FLORIDA | A zero here as well, which might come as a surprise given the staff's connections there and that the Huskers signed eight from Florida a year ago. While Florida ranks fourth on the list of Husker-producing states since 1973, it's never been as fertile for Nebraska as California or Texas. The Huskers have landed 51 Floridians over the last 47 classes. This year's miss (so far) feels more like an anomaly than anything, however. "I think our coaching staff's credibility in Florida and Georgia is still carrying some weight," Frost said Wednesday, "it just happened to be more in Georgia this year than it was in Florida." About that . . . 

GEORGIA | Last year was the first time since 1973 that Nebraska landed multiple players from the Peach State (LB Caleb Tannor, TE Katerian Legrone). This year the Huskers landed three and if Garden City (Kan.) Community College running back Dedrick Mills ends up signing with Nebraska, it'll be four. As one of college football’s emerging hotbeds for talent, the Huskers' Georgia haul the past two seasons could be an encouraging sign.

KENTUCKY | Due to timing and his perceived fit in the offense, wide receiver Wandale Robinson became the most wanted prospect for Husker fans over the back half of the recruiting cycle. He's Nebraska's first signee from Kentucky since at least 1973. A quick search didn't turn up any Nebraska letter winners from Kentucky either. It wasn't an exhaustive search –– lot happening today –– so don't quote us on that, but it's safe to say at this point that the Huskers' history with the Commonwealth of Kentucky is about as deep as a dram (of bourbon, because Kentucky).

THE UNRECRUITED | With Kentucky coming off the board this year the list of states without a Husker signee since 1973 stands at seven: Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

TEXAS | The commitment and signing of Banks gave Nebraska a Lone Star Stater for the 35th time over the last 36 classes. From 1984 to 2015, the Huskers had a Texan in every class. So far Frost and staff have signed two from Texas, one in each class. Nebraska's Lone Star State haul has decreased slightly since it joined the Big Ten. From 1973 to 2010 Texans made up 12 percent of Nebraska's total signees. From 2011 on that number has dropped to 11.4 percent. Over the last four classes it's 5.7 percent.

MISSOURI | Barring an addition over the month ahead, Frost is still looking for his first signee from Missouri. The Show-Me State has produced nearly as many Huskers (49) as Florida has (51) since 1973.

THE SEC FOOTPRINT | Let's consider the SEC footprint for a second, the original footprint plus South Carolina and Arkansas but not Missouri and Texas (i.e. "the South" for the most part). Even without any Florida prospects Nebraska landed eight from the most hotly contested recruiting grounds in the country, including signees from (in order of least-to-most rare) Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky. Eight signees from the SEC footprint is the third-most at Nebraska since 1973, trailing the 2018 class (12, with eight from Florida) and 2014 (nine). Over the last 47 classes, the Huskers have signed five or more players from those states seven times and all seven have happened since 2005. It's still brutally hard for a school outside of the region to go in there and pull players away from the swarm of schools that always seems to be nearby, but maybe not as hard as it once was. Frost certainly has the clout to do it right now, and if the Huskers start winning in the near future it wouldn't shock me if Nebraska continued to have success down south. 

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