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How Nebraska Compares in Big Ten With Keeping Homegrown Players Home

February 25, 2021

Recruiting in-state is always a hot topic around college football. When new coaches come in to a program, they always mention keeping the local talent home. That is seen as a path to improving the program. It helps to be in a state that produces many Power Five players in each recruiting class. It makes sense that it should be easier in theory to land those homegrown players.

It got me thinking after Nebraska was left off the top five list for a pair of the state’s top players in the 2022 class. How do other teams in the Big Ten do with keeping players home? Each school is in a bit of a unique situation. Let’s take a look at how Big Ten schools did the last two recruiting classes with the top five players in their states.

Illinois is home to Northwestern and Illinois. In the 2021 recruiting class, the Wildcats signed one of the top five players. They also signed one of the top five in the 2020 cycle. Illinois struck out with the top five in both cycles.

Indiana is another state that is home to a pair of Big Ten schools. Purdue and Indiana each got one of the top five in the 2021 cycle. In the 2020 class Purdue got a pair while Indiana got zero.

Iowa is one of the more unique schools with in-state recruiting. The Hawkeyes have a great reputation for landing and developing in-state players. They also have Iowa State and Nebraska trying to land players. In 2021, Iowa got two of the top five players in Iowa but lost the top two. The 2020 class treated them a little better when they got three.

Maryland is in a tough spot. The state consistently produces top talent but that talent is helping to power other programs while the Terrapins struggle. Maryland got one of the top five in the 2021 class. The other four went to Penn State, Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma. The 2020 cycle was not better. Maryland got zero. The number one player in the nation went to Clemson. Others went to Alabama, Penn State, South Carolina and LSU.

Michigan might be the best example of how you can be average at landing local talent but still recruit well. In both the 2021 and 2020 cycles, the Wolverines landed a pair of the top five players. However, the team finished 14th in 2020 and 10th in 2021 in recruiting rankings. Michigan State was shut out of the top five players in-state both cycles.

Minnesota having that big season two years ago should help its recruiting profile. It has overall but not in the home state. Minnesota has landed one of the top five players from Minnesota in each of the last two cycles. Coach PJ Fleck has struggled to keep players home during his time at Minnesota.

We know the story of Nebraska’s local recruiting well. The Huskers got three of the top five in the 2021 cycle. Oregon and Iowa were the two schools the other two picked. It should be noted that the Huskers swiped the best prospect to come from Iowa in a generation. The 2020 cycle was a bit unique. Nebraska offered three of the top five players and landed two of them.

If Greg Schiano is going to build Rutgers back up, it will help to keep the talent in New Jersey home. Rutgers has only landed one of the top players from New Jersey the last two cycles. The schools that the other players went to is impressive. Two went to Ohio State and Michigan. Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M were the other selections.

Ohio State landed four of the top five players from the state in the 2021 class. During the 2020 cycle the team offered four of the top five. The Buckeyes landed two of them. The Buckeyes are in a rare spot. They keep the best players home while also recruiting very well nationally.

What I found in Pennsylvania was surprising. Penn State got shut out in the 2021 recruiting cycle. Instead, those players went to Ohio State, Clemson, Wisconsin, Ohio State and LSU. That includes the 15th best player in the nation who went to Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions did land two of the top five in the 2020 cycle. The other three went to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Pitt.

Leave it to Wisconsin to be the model of consistency. They are the only program in the Big Ten that landed all five of the top players in both the 2021 and 2020 cycles.

I think what we learned here is that Nebraska has been above average to good so far at landing homegrown talent. Compared to other schools in the league, the Huskers aren’t the best but far from the worst. Recruiting can be a “what have you done for me lately” business though. The 2022 cycle will change the hit rate if it continues trending poorly.

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