Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Examining Nebraska’s Class Rank After Early Signing Period

December 18, 2021

We have made it through the early signing period for college football. The Huskers have been through a whirlwind of activity over the last few weeks. The program has wasted no time adding transfers to the team. Coach Scott Frost told us during the season that the team would be focused on adding players for more immediate impact. There was a better chance of the Huskers landing those impact players through the portal. That strategy pivot made sense.

There is one thing that everyone wants to look at after we make it through the early signing period. Where the Huskers landed in the recruiting rankings. Traditionally under Frost the Huskers have finished in the top 25 in the rankings. The Huskers spent much of this recruiting cycle in last place for class ranking in the Big Ten. At the conclusion of the early signing period they are still in last place per the 247Composite. Their average recruit rating is 12th in the conference.

Why is that?

We always knew the class was going to be small. The Huskers have a large number of underclassmen on the team. That is partly because of the COVID eligibility freeze. That is also partly because of roster management. The Huskers redshirted a large part of previous recruiting classes. That was to “get old and stay old” as Frost has said. That ended up backfiring in a way because it created a logjam on the roster. Nebraska also had to navigate whether more “super seniors” would return for 2022. That all kept the numbers low.

Nebraska’s 14 commitments in this class is tied with Wisconsin for the fewest in the conference. Class ranking does have something to do with how many players you have in the class. Only having 14 was not going to yield a strong ranking. Frost spoke about the small class during his signing day press conference.

“I knew we weren’t going to sign very many kids this year,” Frost said. “We don’t have a lot of spots on our roster as it stands today. So, we were really selective with the kids that we decided to recruit and take. I think through that selective process, we landed on some really good guys that we feel good about being able to help us right now and definitely develop into really good football players.”

Nebraska did end up with some good football player for the future. That doesn’t tell the full story. I would characterize Nebraska’s recruiting efforts as not aggressive. That is until the last two weeks which have seen more positive activity for the team. The Huskers elected to only host one uncommitted official visitor during the season. The game day atmosphere is a big selling point for the program and it went unused. Frost chose not to have his assistant hit the pavement during the season to check out high school games. The team waited until the first bye week in October for Frost or any assistants to go to a high school game. I expected more aggression on the trail since no one could go out in 2020.

There is another piece of this puzzle that continues to grow in importance. The transfer portal additions for Nebraska do not count in the class ranking. The additions of kicker Timmy Bleekrode and punter Brian Buschini as scholarship players is important. It should have a large impact on the 2022 season. Defensive back Tommi Hill has a chance to start at cornerback. Offensive lineman Kevin Williams Jr will have every opportunity to show what he can do. The Huskers are continuing to revamp the offensive line room. None of that can be reflected in the class ranking. Neither can whichever quarterback the Huskers land. There will likely be other impact transfers added. Those transfers are the biggest key to Nebraska improving for the 2022 season. At least from a talent acquisition standpoint this offseason.

The class rank and size will matter more down the line for Nebraska. A few years from now it’s likely to come back up when looking at how the roster is constructed. Frost and his staff have to worry more about the immediate future as they face a make or break 2022 season.

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