Nebraska Recruiting: Closing The Gap in the Big Ten West
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Recruiting: Closing The Gap in the Big Ten West

January 15, 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.

Sadly, the 2019 college football season is over. It came to an end after LSU won the national title game on Monday night. That game had coaches, fans and media around the country asking important questions, like how far their programs are from the elite. Last year after Clemson won the title I wrote about the lesson of the Tigers winning. It was that to be elite in college football you need great defensive line play. Waves of players are needed along the line to get after quarterbacks on a consistent basis. 

Nebraska is still trying to find its way on that front. 

This year the lesson is that you need more guys. By that I mean you need many impact players all over the field. When you play against the elite teams in the sport—LSU, Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State—you have to come close to matching the level of accumulated talent. You also need good schemes and coaching. 

I was asked on the radio Tuesday afternoon how close Nebraska is to those elite teams. The truth is that it will take more time to get into the same area as those programs. It’s not enough to land Turner Corcoran, Zavier Betts, Omar Manning and Keyshawn Greene type talents in one class. Nebraska will need to stack more classes with players of that caliber. The good news is that Nebraska recruiting is trending up. It will continue doing so if the wins start to follow. 

I was also asked how close Nebraska is to the other teams in the Big Ten West. A lot of fans are entering this offseason with a healthy dose of earned skepticism towards the program. 

But let’s be honest. Nebraska is much closer to Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota than records would show last season. The Huskers beat Minnesota  in 2018 but got embarrassed in 2019. They’ve lost back-to-back years on last second field goals to Iowa. The Wisconsin games from the last two seasons are closer than the scores would indicate. Yes, Scott Frost is 1-5 versus those teams since becoming coach at Nebraska—that will have to flip to win the division—but the gap between the Huskers and those programs does not feel as significant as the gap between the Huskers and Buckeyes. 

Let’s put Ohio State to the side. Everyone needs to keep focus on the teams in the West for now. Nebraska is outpacing the West by a wide margin under Frost in pure talent accumulation. The Huskers have signed 17 4-star prospects in the 2019 and 2020 recruiting cycles. Wisconsin signed six, Iowa signed four and Minnesota signed two. In a vacuum, things should even out on the field. We know that football isn’t played on paper though. Coaching, development and culture matter too. 

Things seem bad currently, but there are some indicators that say things should change for Nebraska soon. Still, it’s probably best for all involved with Husker football to quietly work behind the scenes. The doubt can develop a chip on everyone's shoulders to get ready to prove people wrong in 2020.

Recruit Watch

>> Creighton Prep 2021 athlete AJ Rollins picked an offer from UCF last night. 

>> Huskers signee Zavier Betts will get his opportunity to shine in the International Bowl tomorrow in Dallas. 


>> Today’s early enrollee preview (Premium) centered on the Huskers’ top-rated signee Turner Corcoran. 

>> As Jacob Padilla writes, Tyler Hildebrand’s return to Nebraska (Premium) was a team effort.

>> Fred Hoiberg is hoping for a full 40-minute effort from his guys at Ohio State on Tuesday. 

>> Jacob Padilla’s Nebraska roster reset series (Premium) is back to look into the offensive backfield. 

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