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Nebraska Recruiting: Colleges Saving Spots for Portal Creates Guessing Game for Everyone

June 01, 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.


Discussion of the transfer portal has been one of the hottest topics this offseason. That is true nationally where USC, Ole Miss, LSU and Texas have dipped into the portal to improve their teams. There will be a lot of new faces in new places this season. Nebraska isn’t the only team with a focus on the portal this offseason but it has gone all in. There are 15 transfer additions that have joined the team since last season. That’s the most I’ve seen around the country. It was needed for coach Scott Frost to jumpstart the program after a sluggish start to his tenure.

Going into the portal for a faster fix was necessary for the program but it is not without consequences. There has been a hyper-focus on improving the team through the portal from fans, media and the program. It created a perception that Nebraska is overlooking high school recruiting. Archbishop Bergan coach Seth Mruz spoke about that with me last week when discussing rising 2023 prospect Kade McIntyre.

“I understand Nebraska’s situation,” he said. “First and foremost, I know that they’ve spent a lot of time with the transfer portal to make sure they get what they need to get right before the season starts. Their needs and wants are a little bit different than maybe somebody else around the Midwest. [The relationship with the program] is not bad. They reach out to me every once in a while.”

High school coaches and prospects seem to be feeling the squeeze based on the Huskers’ portal activity. This isn’t the first time this has come up this offseason. Several programs are saving spots in their back pockets for potential portal additions. Even if schools are just holding a few spots back that adds up quickly. The end result is less opportunities for high school players.

There is another side to that coin that hasn’t been considered much. What if the idea of holding back spots is making it harder for schools to project future needs? When the Huskers decided at the end of last season to take a smaller high school class they didn’t know which positions would be plentiful in the portal. Teams end up leaning into a blind spot by relying on the portal. The team just knows it wants the ability to add additional pieces that could put your team over the top.

That can make it difficult when the Huskers are planning needs for the 2023 recruiting class. The Huskers have a good group of wide receivers with strong interest in the program this cycle. Malachi Coleman, Joshua Manning, Barry Jackson and Omarion Miller are top high school targets. They have built a strong relationship with wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph. It appears they are the priority over waiting for transfer options this offseason. How many wideouts can or should Nebraska bring in for the 2023 cycle? The Huskers did bring in three transfer wide receivers this offseason. Stocking the room with freshmen makes sense but what if a transfer comes available later?

There is a key question is moving forward. How quickly are the Huskers using the portal as a backup plan in case they don’t land preferred high school targets? Or is the team counting on landing multiple players from the portal like they did this offseason? The answer to those questions will be revealed in time.

Either way, the Nebraska coaching staff needs effective communication. Perception that the team is overlooking high school prospects in favor of portal additions is harmful. Long-term success for the program is more likely building with strong high school classes supplemented by the portal.

Recruit Watch

>> Nebraska defensive back target from Florida, Braeden Marshall, has set an official visit to check out Wisconsin.

>> Gretna quarterback Zane Flores made it to the Elite 11 Finals this summer.

>> Former Husker defensive line target Taylor Lewis committed to Arkansas on Tuesday night.

ICYMI

>> Jacob Padilla is looking into the B1G NBA Draft decisions in this week’s Padding the Stats.

>> Steve Marik has reached nine through seven on his list of most important Husker football newcomers.

>> The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions in the mailbag including if transfers are being overrated.

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