'Good Guys' Can Still Win in Recruiting
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

‘Good Guys’ Can Still Win in Recruiting

February 13, 2018

Building trust in recruiting is key. There are a lot of different ways to build that trust, to build connections with the recruits a coach wants in the football program. Some coaches use championship rings to build a bridge of trust on winning. Other coaches use things in common like playing the same position as or being from the same area to build rapport.

So far, the Huskers' new staff seems to use a mix of being genuine while also highlighting its successful track record, particularly what it did at UCF in going from 0-12 to 13-0 and just two years. Nebraska’s staff also puts a premium on “fit” because the coaches know the exact type of culture they are trying to create in Lincoln They have done it before. Here is what defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said last week about recruiting defensive back Cam Taylor‍.

“Some staffs come in and say, ‘Hey we’re Nebraska, you better be coming to our school.’ That’s not how we do it, we want to get to know the kid," Chinander said. "I don’t care how good a football player the kid is, if we get to meet his family and him and they’re not the right fit for Nebraska and our program and our culture, I’m not going to take him. So I think part of it is getting the relationship with a kid, but part of it is also figuring out if it’s a kid you want.”

That approach worked well for Taylor as he publicly committed to Nebraska on signing day. From his perspective, how was the staff was able to connect? A family tragedy showed him just how much this coaching staff valued him as a person, not just a football player.

“Once I told them my grandfather had passed away, they instantly called me to make sure everything was all right," Taylor said on Hail Varsity Radio. "I had just come from my visit and two days later it happened. They really just checked up on me from here and there with phone calls, text messages, things like that. They just stayed in touch with me to make sure everything was okay. [That meant a lot to me] because they also checked on my little brother and sister as well. They really treat you like a family once they know you’re all in.”

He went on to explain more about what stood out to him about head coach Scott Frost.

“He’s really a player’s coach. He’s down to earth, he’s genuine," Taylor said. "Anything you want, he’ll be there for you. Even with my grandpa passing last week, he was there for me as well. Coach Chinander and Coach [Travis] Fisher were there for me as well.”

That’s just one example of how Nebraska’s coaches have connected with a recruit in a meaningful way using their genuine personalities. The staff also has the attention of recruits based on their track record of developing players, which helps to build trust early on. When asked about where he’d like to play on defense, 4-star safety Cam Jones‍ had a very revealing answer.

"I want to be where I’m needed," he said. "I’ll play anywhere that can help the team. If I have to play nickel, I’ll play nickel. Any type of safety or corner. If I even got big enough, I could play at outside linebacker. I feel like coach will put me where I need to be. As long as I can help the team, I feel like I can contribute early.”

Defensive end Casey Rogers‍ visited Alabama and Ohio State in December before committing to Nebraska. The former lacrosse standout shared a similar team-first mentality when asked what role he envisioned for himself during his freshman season.

“If [defensive line coach] Coach [Mike] Dawson thinks it’s time for me go out there, and he has the trust in me to go out there to make an impact right away, then that’s what I’ll do," Rogers said. "If he thinks that I need to take more time and develop my body or just as a football player, then that’s the road I’ll take as well. It’s all up to what they want to do to make me the best football player I can be.”  

Rogers, who quickly formed a bond with this staff and called Nebraska a “sleeping giant” with Frost as the head coach summed up everything very nicely when asked what exactly has him so fired up to play for this staff.

“Just the people they are. Coach Frost obviously has had a history of success. Every place that he has been, he’s won," Rogers said. "Obviously, winning a national championship at Nebraska [as a player] then going undefeated last year. He’s knows what it takes to be a winner. Other than that, this whole staff is really good guys. They all made very good impressions when I was out on the visit. When it came down to it, these are the guys I want to be coached by. I can’t be more excited to be coached by Coach Frost, Chinander and Dawson. All of them are excellent coaches and are professionals at what they do.”

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