It appears as though Nebraska, like most schools in the country, will have a pretty quiet “National Signing Day.” No surprise there. The real signing day is now in December and the change happened almost immediately once the NCAA made early signing possible. All that’s left for the first Wednesday in February is the former significance that date used to have on the college football calendar.
Now that day is just the refuge of teams that made a coaching change, those that didn’t have the choice to get their work done early. It has all the pizzazz of waiting to celebrate Christmas until after Groundhog’s Day.
Nebraska had to do it in 2018, but the Huskers are caught up now. And maybe just now, this class. Scott Frost said as much in December when the Huskers announced a 2020 class that included 23 players.
This is the 11th class a Husker head coach has recruited solely to play in the Big Ten. That’s a pretty good chunk of players, 223 to be exact. It got me wondering, which position group have the Huskers recruited the best since joining the conference and how does it relate to the rest of the league?
To do that, I grabbed the recruiting rankings* data available at collegefootballdata.com. That offers the 10-class average rating and stars (247 Composite for both) by position for every school in the Big Ten.
* Yeah, recruiting rankings aren’t perfect but they are the reluctantly agreed-upon scoring system we use. Insert your particular disclaimer here.
Which position has Nebraska recruited at the highest level? We’ll look at offense today and tackle defense on Tuesday. Here are the Huskers’ top-rated positions in order along with where it ranks overall in the Big Ten and where it ranks by position.
|POSITION||AVG. RATING||AVG. STARS||B1G RANK||B1G POS. RANK|
Some thoughts . . .
>>Here’s something you need to know off the top. Over the past decade, Ohio State has recruited better at every position than every other Big Ten team. If you’re already asking yourself, “I wonder which team recruits _______ the best?” the answer is the Buckeyes. That’s not really shocking, but it is still impressive to take this entire list, sort by average rating and see Ohio State take the top eight spots in the league.
>>Nebraska’s best position group has been running back. Its .8907 average rating (3.44 stars) ranks 16th overall and is the third-best running back recruiting in the conference since 2010. Frost and staff have been even better––which is pretty important to how they want to play––with an average rating of .9008 (4 stars) through two classes. That said, two of the backs signed during that stretch––Greg Bell and Maurice Washington––are no longer with the team.
This is the one position group where Nebraska jumps into the top three in the Big Ten. Its overall rating for all recruits is fourth, trailing Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. That, too, isn’t really shocking. It’s the baseline we’ve always sort of assumed for the Huskers in this league.
>>Quarterback is second-highest for the Huskers, which might sound a little better than it actually is. QBs tend to have higher ratings, so much so that most of the teams in the Big Ten that don’t really have a defining trait on the recruiting trail have quarterback as their highest-rated position over the past decade. That includes, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue and Rutgers.
To put it another way, Nebraska has recruited quarterbacks that are in line with its overall recruiting pecking order in the league. Frost and staff have elevated things here over two classes, raising the average rating from .8893 (3.7 stars) to .9198 (4 stars).
>>There are two Big Ten teams that have recruited offensive linemen better than any other position on their rosters since 2010. Care to guess which teams?
If you guessed Iowa and Wisconsin, you got one of the answers correct. The Hawkeyes are on there with an average rating of .8573 (3.09 stars), which ranks 40th overall in the Big Ten (but just sixth for OL recruiting in the league). The other team is Michigan with an average rating of .9009 (3.53 stars), which is second only to Ohio State at the position.
Nebraska is, again, fourth here. Surprisingly, Wisconsin––average rating of .8452 (2.9 stars)––is ninth in offensive line recruiting in the Big Ten, behind the typical top four, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern and Maryland. Recruiting is, of course, just a starting point and the Badgers’ end point with its offensive linemen speaks for itself over the past 10 years.
>>Wide receiver is the only offensive position group for the Huskers that falls outside of the top four in the league. Nebraska is fifth here with an average rating of .8643 (3.09 stars). Michigan State (.8668, 3.18 stars) is the team to slip ahead of the Huskers here.
>>One other big-picture thing to note: No Big Ten team had a defensive position group as the position it recruits the best, which strikes me as strange for a conference that I very much associate with defense. That is most likely an indication of how much easier it is to rank guys that get the ball than guys that don’t.
Or, maybe it’s just an indication of some cognitive bias we all have towards points and yards. More on that tomorrow.
The Grab Bag
- Speaking of inflation, I took a look at coaching-hire grades between 2016 and 2018 and decided those things need to be graded on a curve. (Premium)
- Found myself just nodding along with this line from Derek Peterson’s latest column: “It may not be a reach to say he’s one of the most singularly important offensive players for Nebraska this offseason.”
- It was a quiet recruiting weekend for the Huskers right before Wednesday’s signing day, and that’s a good thing writes Greg Smith.
Today’s Song of Today