Bellevue West crouches down during game play on the sideline
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Recruiting: Bellevue West Getting Creative in Next Step to Boost Player Exposure

May 29, 2022

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

The evaluation period for this year ends soon. Assistant coaches will come off the road soon and stop visiting high schools. I spoke with a couple of high school coaches recently to get their take on what the process is like for them. The answers were eye-opening for a variety of reasons.

There is variety in how schools around the country maximize those evaluation period visits. Louisiana just wrapped up high school spring football. Wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph saw two teams face-off in a spring game. When college coaches come to high schools in Nebraska to visit and see prospects they get to see players in a weight room or gym class. In some cases, they are pulling them out of class so they can get a look at them. What schools find out about that is limited other than seeing how tall they are or how long their arms are.

Bellevue West coach Mike Huffman is an accomplished coach in the state. He’s heard about other states stepping it up a notch from the traditional drop-bys.

“I just heard from Dan Jackson who is now at Vanderbilt and he’s calling me from Dallas,” Huffman said. “He had to be there at 6:30 a.m. They’re feeding those kids breakfast. They have meetings, a two-hour practice and then they go to school. So, they get to evaluate those kids playing football. Same with Georgia and the same with Alabama. They’re watching those kids play football so I started to get some ideas. Bless Bellevue Public Schools because they let me give them a list of 40 kids and those kids are in my weightlifting class. I had those kids every other day at 1:15 p.m. I scheduled our spring so when those colleges would come, they would come in those days. We went out to the football field and my weightlifting class that day played football.”

The Thunderbirds would do agility and speed training in front of coaches. Quarterbacks would throw to receivers going through the route tree. Each position group would go through drills so that college coaches saw them doing football movements. There were over 40 schools from all levels at Bellevue West and the coaches were so appreciative to see the players playing football according to Huffman.

These are the things that can really add up with extra development time for high school athletes. It’s common for college coaches to say Nebraska high school football players have a lot of potential. That’s true in part because there hasn’t been as much time for development.

Bellevue West was the first school in Nebraska to do something like this. That move paid off for Huffman and his players. Class of 2024 quarterback Daniel Kaelin was offered by every Power Five school that came and saw him throw. The only school that didn’t offer him was Georgia. The 2021 national champions would like to see him throw in a camp setting with other quarterbacks being evaluated by the team. Kaelin will head to Athens soon along with wide receiver Dae’vonn Hall to attend camp.

This is the next step for Nebraska high school football. It was a hot topic years ago about bringing more specialized training to the state. That has helped the talent in the state rise to attract more college attention. Now it’s about maximizing the time that college coaches have when they come in to see Nebraska prospects. That will help players get even more opportunities.

Recruit Watch

>> The Huskers made the top 10 for Texas EDGE Brad Spence on Saturday.

>> Class of 2023 Florida defensive lineman Andrew Rumph was offered by the Huskers.


>> The latest Drake’s Takes looks at the end of the balloon release, as well as the end of softball’s season.

>> Bergan athlete Kade McIntyre is enjoying a wild but stressful recruiting ride this summer.

>> Steve Marik’s countdown Nebraska’s most important newcomers has reached numbers 12-10.

>> I spoke with a pair of high school coaches who said that building trust and lasting relationships is key in the evaluation period.

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