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Nebraska Recruiting: Assessing Attrition Risk with the Huskers’ 2022 Class

February 16, 2022

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Hail Varsity recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.


This time about a year ago, I decided to explore the attrition rate of past Nebraska recruiting classes. Determining which scholarship signees had a tendency to leave Lincoln before completing their eligibility was interesting in itself, but my secret sub-goal with all of that research was to try and build a model that would forecast attrition probability for current and future classes based on three factors—distance from Lincoln, ability (based on 247 Sports’ rating) and commitment date.

I am not mathematically sophisticated enough to really pull that off with any rigor, but that’s never stopped me from trying before, so, like most offseason adventures, it became a “let’s see what we can we see” quest. With a little more knowledge and some A-B testing, I think it could be something of value. But even in its current, “oh, this is what a child thinks a circuit board looks like” state, the preliminary results, I thought, at least offered a little bit of support for long-held beliefs about Nebraska recruiting.

One year on from that project, I have run Nebraska’s 2022 class through the attrition-o-meter and I can now tell you this: My taped-together model projects that Nebraska would have lost 92.9 of its 234 scholarship signees since 2011 (no JUCOs, no transfers at this point). In reality, the Huskers have had 92 players leave before their eligibility was up (not including early entries to the NFL Draft).

I wouldn’t treat that as much more than a broken clock being right two times a day—I don’t treat it as more than that at this point—but it’s close enough that I haven’t thrown the whole thing in the trash at this point. Having acknowledged that the model is probably faulty in ways I haven’t even discovered yet, here’s what I can tell you about Nebraska’s most-recent class and its likelihood to stick around.

My initial attempt at this found three main things: 1) the farther from Lincoln a prospect is located, the more likely he is to leave the class; 2) players that commit in the summer tend to stick around the most and 3) players at the high end and the low end of the recruiting ratings are the most likely to depart. Combine these three factors and you have what I call attrition probability. Since 2011, the average attrition probability for a Nebraska signee has been 39.7%–about two out of every five signees will leave before their eligibility is up for reasons other than the NFL Draft.

The player with the highest attrition probability in the 2021 class was linebacker Wynden Ho’ohuli because he 1) was from Hawaii, 2) was the second-highest rated player in the class per 247 and 3) publicly committed to Nebraska on February’s signing day last year, late in the process. Nearly 50% of the time, a player with that sort of profile doesn’t finish his career at Nebraska and, indeed, Ho’ohuli transferred to Hawaii this offseason.

That’s what we’re looking at here, and here’s how Nebraska’s 2022 recruiting class stacks up to the rest of the Scott Frost era:

CLASSSIGNEESDEPARTURESAVG. DISTANCE FROM LNK (miles)AVG. ATTRITION PROBABILITYEXPECTED DEPARTURES
20181913896.4358.3
2019259607.3809.5
2020186732.3957.1
2021193706.3576.8
2022150651.4006.0

Recruiting through a pandemic wasn’t helpful in many ways, but it was good for Nebraska in at least one regard—the Huskers’ 2021 and 2022 classes ended up being more “local,” which reduces attrition probability. Minus the 2019 class—which included five signees from Nebraska, an in-state hit rate the Huskers would love to replicate but haven’t been able to—the past two classes had the lowest average distance from Lincoln. That helps pull the overall attrition probability down.

The 2022 class suffered from the realities of the recruiting calendar, however, as its attrition probability based only on days committed (.436) was high as a whole. Based on talent level (i.e. rating), the 2022 class had a slightly lower attrition probability than the 12-class average, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. The more talent Nebraska signs, the higher that component of attrition probability will be.

Before adding its two February signees—running back Ajay Allan and wide receiver Janiran Bonner—the 2022 class had the second-lowest attrition probability of the Frost era, trailing the 2021 class which was certainly signed under unique circumstances. The increased ease of transferring under the current rules is something I have yet to try to add to the model, and that’s a pretty big thing. But, comparing this class to all of the Husker classes in the Big Ten, it ended up pretty close to average in terms of individual’s likelihood to leave, which might be the overall takeaway here––small class or big, pandemic challenges or not, recruiting to Nebraska comes with the expectation that nearly 40% of those signed will end up elsewhere.

Based on this in-progress model, your most likely candidates for attrition are defensive back Jaeden Gould (committed late, far away, highly rated), offensive lineman Justin Evans-Jenkins (committed late, far away) and defensive lineman Brodie Tagaloa (committed late, far away). The signees with the lowest “flight risk”? Linebacker Ernest Hausmann (committed early, nearby), athlete Jake Appleget (early, nearby) and tight end Chase Androff (relatively early, relatively nearby).

Of course, this will all be mostly determined by what happens to Nebraska in 2022. It’s a turning point kind of year and, depending upon which turn the Huskers take, that will have the greatest impact on who is still here three or four years down the road.

Recruit Watch

>> Nebraska will be among 60 schools in Dallas-Fort Worth this June for a camp hosted by Sonny Dykes, new head coach at TCU.

>>4-star defensive back Braeden Marshall, who visited Nebraska in October and remains in the mix for the Huskers, is taking a visit to Clemson in March.

ICYMI

>>Steve Marik previews Nebraska’s women’s basketball matchup with Penn State

>>Jacob Padilla looks at the potential, and potential risk, inherent with a large class of transfers.

>>Way Too Early Super Bowl halftime show picks and more in this week’s Mailbag.

>>Speaking of the Super Bowl, Zac Taylor turned the Bengals’ appearance into an extension.

 

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