As we were watching a glimpse of Nebraska’s fifth fall camp practice this week, I found myself having a similar thought to one I’ve had before. I’ve often found myself jotting in my notepad that depth has looked improved at a specific position group. It has happened on both sides of the football where I’ve thought this Huskers team looked bigger, longer and more athletic.
That’s why it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me when offensive coordinator Troy Walters spoke about the increased level of competition this week.
“The theme of this camp is really competing on both sides of the ball,” Walters said following Monday’s practice. “On defense, they’re making us a whole lot better. Those guys are getting after it and we have to compete with them. But then the competition within each position has been great. It’s been a good camp.”
The increased level of competition is noticeable with the offensive line, defensive line, wide receivers, defensive backs and running backs. Coaches, players and observers all agree that this is a different looking team. How does that happen?
Evaluation, recruiting and development.
We are in the early stages of fully evaluating how good Coach Scott Frost’s staff is in these key areas, but there is reason for hope. There are many players from the 2018 recruiting class expected to contribute now:
- QB Adrian Martinez
- OL Cam Jurgens
- RB Maurice Washington
- OLB Caleb Tanner
- WR Andre Hunt
- ILB Will Honas
- DB Deontai Williams
- DB Cam Taylor
- WR Jaron Woodyard
- WR Mike Williams
- K Barret Pickering
There are also players that could contribute from the recent recruiting class:
- WR/RB Wan’Dale Robinson
- DB Noa Pola-Gates
- ILB Jackson Hannah
- RB Rahmir Johnson
- RB Dedrick Mills
- OLB Garrett Nelson
- DB Quinton Newsome
- OT Bryce Benhart
That is 19 players recruited by this staff, which is a fairly high number of players. In my mind, that means this staff has done a good job of evaluating talent. The staff also has a good knack for landing targets higher on their recruiting board. None of this comes as a surprise to running backs coach Ryan Held.
"This is Nebraska. We expect to recruit at a high level,” Held said earlier this week. “We expect to develop our guys at a high level. We have all the resources to be successful. Everybody is bought in. We’ve had two cycles of summers now. We expect to make huge gains. There were guys here already, they just needed to do it a different way. We like the returns. Again, we aren’t even close to being ready but will be once game week starts.”
We can occasionally get lost in the weeds of recruiting rankings and stars. Nebraska has reeled in the 21st and 15th ranked classes under Frost so far. Those are necessary metrics but not the only way to view recruiting success.
The Huskers will continue to raise their recruiting profile, especially as wins pile up. The early hit rate of getting players in the mix for early playing time suggests that good times are ahead.
Nebraska wants to get back to championship level football. It starts with evaluation, recruiting and development.
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.