Over the last year-plus of being in a dead period, we know that colleges had to get creative. New ideas were born in order to help programs get to know players. With no camps, visits, in-home visits or evaluation period, something had to change. Insert FaceTime, Zoom and virtual tours. But how do teams find those players in the first place?
We know scouting departments and coaches were able to spend more time watching film. That helped them to evaluate players. Running backs coach Ryan Held spent his fair share of time watching film, especially during the early shutdown time of the pandemic. During that time coaching staffs were also able to spend time figuring out if there was a connection from the player to the school.
“Coaches and recruiting departments could really look at every region and find every kid that’s in that region and see if there’s an opportunity to recruit a kid that maybe there’s a connection,” Held told Hail Varsity. “Maybe there’s a kid that’s in this region that has a connection in Nebraska or the Midwest that maybe you wouldn’t have had time to have done in the past.”
You never know if you’ll uncover whether or not a player has a grandparent that lives in the area. Every school is looking for an edge to get a foot in the door with prospects. We often talk about legacy players. Those are recruits that Nebraska should have a better chance with. While that’s true, it’s not the only path to a player having familiarity with the program or area. Nebraska works to uncover those connections.
“Well, it’s part of our questionnaire,” Held said. “When we are going through the process and talking with kids we ask do you have any connection to Nebraska? Do you have a family member that’s ever been to the university or has an association with Nebraska or even the Midwest? You’d be surprised to find how often kids say oh yeah my grandfather went to this school.”
It’s smart that Nebraska makes that part of its process. If there is a connection that could really be something that helps the program recruit that player. It has felt when talking to recruits that many of them have connections to Nebraska. Victor Jones Jr. has a nice connection to the Huskers. The 2022 commit has had a pair of coaches that are former Huskers. Seth Malcom’s dad actually works in Omaha even though the family lives in Iowa. We know that 2021 signee Thomas Fidone had deep family ties to the Huskers.
Now we know that Nebraska is seeking out those connections to get that much more of an edge on the trail. Recruiting and who wins on the trail comes down to the little things at times. This is a good example of Nebraska’s recruiting operation being good with the details.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.