Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Recruiting: Building Walk-On Class Unique in 2021

October 04, 2020

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.


Putting together the 2021 recruiting class has been a wild ride. The response to COVID-19 has made this cycle unlike any other. The lack of official visits for the 2021 group has gotten a lot of headlines. Still, there are many other storylines to look at with this cycle.

One that is a little more unique to Nebraska is walk-on recruiting. Nebraska’s long history of contributions from players that come to the team as walk ons is deep. Attention to the utilizing the tradition has ebbed and flowed with different coaches. As a native Nebraskan and former Husker coach Scott Frost understood the importance the day he arrived on campus for his opening press conference.

“I’m looking forward to trying to build the walk-on program and make it what it was before,” Frost said at the time. “When you have a bunch of kids from the state of Nebraska that are in this program, those are the type of players that would bleed for this place and are going to work hard to make this work. Guys that are really pulling for Nebraska.

“When I was growing up, every kid in the state of Nebraska dreamed about running out here on this stadium, on this field wearing a red ‘N’ on their helmet.”

This is the time of year that we see preferred walk-on offers start to go out by Nebraska. Part of the high school season has been played, allowing prospects to show how they have improved. This year coaches aren’t able to see that in person but are able to rely on film that prospects put together.

The Huskers started sending out some new preferred walk on offers at the end of last week. One went to Elkhorn High standout Aiden Young.

“You know, the first thought that came to my mind was how special it was that they wanted me in the program,” Young said. “As a kid from Nebraska, Husker football is a big part of your life. So, I thought it was really cool that I was getting the opportunity that so many kids dream of even with it being a walk-on.

“My next thought was when can I really meet the staff. It makes the recruiting process a lot harder with the extension of the dead period so we’re going to have to find different ways to grow our relationships with coaches. But I’m excited to better know the staff and the team and am just blessed to be in the position that I am.”

Young has enjoyed getting to know the Husker staff through phone calls and Zoom. He’d love to get around the staff in person. He lines up all over the field for Elkhorn High which has helped display his versatility. That versatility is what the Huskers like about his game.

“I’ve had the luxury of being able to move around the field quite a bit in Elkhorn which has helped my recruiting quite a bit,” Young said. “They are looking at me in the flex/slot position where I can take handoffs and catch passes out of the backfield and as a receiver.”

It will be different for the Huskers trying to build a walk on class without game day visits. The Homegrown Husker event also helps sell prospects and their families. Still, the Huskers are adjusting and pursuing players like Young to join the program.

Recruit Watch

>> Caden Crawford, a 2022 linebacker target from Kansas, has been on fire to start his season. He posted his first four game highlights over the weekend.

>> Kenny Fletcher, a 2022 defensive end out of New Jersey, picked up an offer from the Huskers on Thursday evening.

>> Nebraska quarterback commit Heinrich Haarberg posted his first four games film this weekend too.

ICYMI

>> I gave five thoughts (Premium) on Elkhorn South’s big win on Papillion-La Vista including a 2022 wideout to keep an eye on.

>> Derek Peterson did a check in on Nebraska’s opponents around the conference as we roll towards the football season.

>> Bellevue West’s season might be unconventional but you’d never know it, writes Erin Sorensen.

>> Creighton Prep mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback to take the win over Millard West on Friday night.

>> Jacob Padilla has you covered with a prep volleyball notebook from the Allison Weston Invitational.

>> The ground game got Kearney Catholic back on track with a win over Minden, writes Derek Peterson.

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