Hot Reads: Spring-Game Recruiting Strategy is Paying Off
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: Spring-Game Recruiting Strategy is Paying Off

April 17, 2017

The official count currently stands at four. That’s the number of verbal commitments Nebraska landed during its spring-game recruiting extravaganza (including one for 2019). Unofficially, there may be a few others that are picking Nebraska but haven’t been announced yet.

Not a bad yield considering we’re just two days removed from the game. Last year, nine of Nebraska’s eventual signees in the 2017 class were at the spring game, so this is the group to watch going forward. The Huskers had a chance to put their best foot forward with these guys (tip of the cap to the 78,000) and establish or solidify in-person relationships. As far as previews go, the spring game might actually be a better lookahead at the recruiting classes to come than it is the team to come.

Mike Riley deserves some credit for recognizing that.

“There’s nothing like being around people that care in general. When you are a football coach and there’s this much support it’s pretty neat,” Riley said in 2015 after his first spring game at Nebraska.

Neat, yes, but Riley seems to have realized that while Nebraska doesn’t have a ton of recruiting advantages over its peer programs the spring game is one of them. He continues to place more chips on the Huskers’ annual scrimmage. In 2015, after just four months on the job, Riley and staff brought 18 visitors to the spring game. A year later, 25 made the trek. This year the number was pushing 40.

That’s not a coincidence, at least not totally. Sure, being at a place for a year or two gives prospects a better idea of who you are and what you do as a coach, but a little of Nebraska’s uptick here is due to effort, too. The spring game has clearly become a key piece to Nebraska’s recruiting battle plan because the staff has tried to make it so. And things may be about to get a little easier on that front.

One of the six recent rules changes for college football will move the official visit date up to April 1. Currently prospects can’t take an official visit (i.e. one paid for by the school) until the first day of their senior year. All of those kids standing on the sidelines on Saturday found their own way to get to Lincoln. Starting next year, however, Nebraska will be able to bring kids in if it so chooses.

Given how much emphasis Nebraska has already been placing on its spring game, that could be a pretty significant change.

The Grab Bag

  • In case you missed any of our spring game coverage, there was a lot of it. This link will get you to all of it. It’s all-you-can-read buffet.
  • Good quick read on Zack Darlington and his loyalty to Nebraska.
  • Brian Rosenthal has the behind-the-scenes story of how Nebraska pulled off its coin-flip surprise featuring Staff Sgt. Matthew Hawke.
  • Steve Sipple writes that Patrick O’Brien seems at ease after the spring QB battle.
  • Tom Dienhart of offers five observations from the spring games at Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana.

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