Scott Frost walks down the field with a mask on
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Husker Early Recruiting Evaluations Good but Something is Missing

May 25, 2021

Recruiting takes some wild twists and turns.

As I reported on Monday the Huskers are out for 4-star Kansas athlete Jaren Kanak. He won’t be taking his official visit that was planned for June. The Huskers have been recruiting Kanak (6-2, 210) since January. Nebraska was his third Power 5 offer after in-state schools Kansas and Kansas State. Coach Scott Frost and the coaching staff built a great relationship with him. That led to getting him to Lincoln for the Red-White Spring Game.

Then everything changed. Kanak stars on both sides of the ball for Hays High School but he also runs track. He ripped off a 10.3 100m dash in March which increased the interest in him by colleges. In the last week his recruitment went to an entirely different level. Just in the last week he has been offered by Florida, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and USC. So now his recruitment is reset. Very few recruits that I’ve covered have seen their recruitments change as fast as Kanak’s has.

It’s going to be difficult for Nebraska to find another player with the unique skills Kanak has. Especially a player that is not already being recruited by the schools that swarmed in on the Kansas native.

The Huskers have an issue of sorts on their hands.

The team does a good job identifying players early that have potential. Kanak is the latest example in the 2022 recruiting class. But another example of this is Iowa safety Xavier Nwankpa. The Huskers were his very first offer on July 1, 2019. Nwankpa attended a game in Lincoln way back in 2019 as an unofficial visitor. Now, Nwankpa is rated as the best safety prospect in America. His final group is Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Clemson, Iowa, LSU and Arizona State.

Let’s flip to the other side of the ball. Texas athlete Brenan Thompson is one of the fastest players in the 2022 recruiting class. Nebraska was his first Power 5 offer, extended on March 17, 2020. Thompson has now become one of the most sought-after skill players in the cycle. Clemson, Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are among his final group.

The point here is that Nebraska is good at evaluating players early. The recruiting department and coaching staff have an eye for talent. The issue is that Nebraska isn’t currently in a place as a program to land these players early. If Nebraska was in the place it thought it’d be under Scott Frost entering Year 4 they’d have a better chance with these players. They also have a hard time hanging on when heavyweight programs come in. That happened last cycle with edge rushers Patrick Payton and Will Schweitzer.

The Huskers have won out in some of these situations under Frost. Tight end Thomas Fidone is the biggest example. Nebraska offered him early. They were able to survive the storm of schools from around the country offering him. Offensive lineman Turner Corcoran was a recruit that had many options to play his college football. The Huskers beat out Oklahoma, Ohio State and others for him. Nebraska just needs to keep winning those battles and developing players.

The evaluations are there. If the wins follow more success on the trail will happen.

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