Hot Reads: Huskers Working on a Small-but-Mighty Class
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: Huskers Working on a Small-but-Mighty Class

April 21, 2017

Quick! Go look at ESPN’s new team recruiting rankings. They appear to be from The Upside Down. Miami is the top-ranked team in the country. Alabama? The Tide are languishing at 25th.

Alabama is behind Wisconsin and Kentucky right now. Minnesota and Kansas, too. The Tide are 15 spots back of Nebraska in these recruiting rankings, which isn’t something you see every day. Will this end up being the end of Alabama’s football dynasty?

No. It’s just a reflection of class size at this very early juncture. The Tide, with three commits currently, are going to be fine. Nebraska, with seven commits, is at or near the top 10 in most of the team recruiting rankings at the moment, but the Huskers might struggle to stay there.

That’s because Nebraska, on paper, only has room for 15 players in this 2018 class. That total could be a little higher with some attrition, but this is a small class and, according to Mike Riley, it might already be more than half-full.

“We have right now nine commitments out of what is our solid number of guys we can sign, which is 15,” Riley said during a radio appearance on Husker Sports Nightly on Thursday. “We’re over half of that already. We have a commitment on the edge coming up, I think, in the next 24 hours that will make it 10.”

Nebraska only has seven known commitments at this point, meaning the Huskers have a couple of players who have told the coaches they’re coming but haven’t made it public yet. Riley added that Nebraska’s staff “stacked” its board Thursday, identifying which players, based on talent, Nebraska will take regardless of numbers.

“The strategy of a recruiting class with limited numbers is not easy to deal with,” he said. “You go into the year recruiting [by] projecting the number of guys at each position that you would like, and it’s based on graduation and the depth that you have on your roster and what you need to do to fill that up.”

As an example, Riley said Nebraska is looking to take three wide receivers in the 2018 class and one outside linebacker. If two outside linebackers want to come, that’s where Riley and staff have to make a call.

It’s going to be fascinating to watch how the puzzle pieces all fit together. As for the rankings, it’s typically hard for small classes to rank highly in these auto-scored rankings unless the quality is off-the-charts. Clemson only signed 14 in 2017 but finished 10th in ESPN’s final rankings. Stanford ranked 14th with 14 signees last year, but those are sort of exceptions to the rule.

That said, if things continue to progress on their current track for Nebraska on the recruiting trail, I think Husker fans will be just fine with that, no matter where this small class ends up in the final rankings.

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