Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Nebraska Recruiting: Could Expanded Playoff Spread High School Talent Around?

July 13, 2021

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 offseason is winding down for Nebraska. The Huskers will start fall camp in preparation for the 2021 football season in a couple weeks. We’ll be deep into who is making moves up the depth chart. Checking out who is making early season official visits will be important.

That is all for later though. It is still the offseason so there are still some big picture ideas and questions that I’ve been pondering. One thing that I am asked about fairly often is for ideas on how to spread out the talent in college football.

The ideas have ranged from one five-star prospect per school to changing scholarship limits for teams. We live in an era of dominance by Alabama and Clemson. Since the 2015 season, the Tide and Tigers have met for the college football championship three times. In that same period Alabama has played for five national championships. Clemson has competed in four.

It is no surprise that those are the two programs also dominating the recruiting rankings. Since the 2019 recruiting class 70 of 79 players signed by Alabama were 5-star or 4-star players. Clemson signed 47 5-star or 4-star players during that time. The team everyone is chasing in the Big Ten, Ohio State, also signed 47 during that time.

Some believe a change is neded to increase parity. A high percentage of top end talent goes to the same handful of schools. Could a potential solution come from the expanded College Football Playoff? The college football playoff working group has proposed a 12-team playoff. The four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and each would receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 would play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team.

Twelve teams having a chance to make the playoffs. That gives each a chance at the ultimate prize in the sport. Would that make it more likely that top high school prospects could pick other schools? Not just Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia and Oklahoma? Would the inclusion of LSU, Texas, USC and Texas A&M into the playoffs make more 5-stars just pick those schools? There are only so many 5-star players to go around. Thinking about it more maybe the “spreading out” of talent doesn’t happen at the 5-star level.

There are a lot of highly-rated 4-star players that also go to the schools mentioned above. What if more of them decide they can compete for championships and go to the NFL by going to Wisconsin? The Badgers could be a big winner in an expanded playoff era. They’ve been right on the doorstep but not at Ohio State’s level in the conference.

Including more teams in the title chase will give prospects more to think about. More teams being able to legitamately pitch they are title contenders on the trail is good. Ultimately, players want to win and they want to go to the NFL. If your school is proving the help in those key categories you will have a chance to land big-time talent.

Recruit Watch

>> Priority Huskers defensive line target Jalen Marshall has committed to Missouri. Marshall took an official visit to Nebraska in June.

ICYMI

>> In the latest episode of the Straight Up Breakdown podcast Derek Peterson joins me to explain why he’s not mad, just disappointed.

>> Fan Day is back for Nebraska football. The program announced the details on Tuesday.

>> Nebraska’s Spencer Schwellenbach was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

>> As Derek Peterson writes, an early-season game against Oklahoma could be Scott Frost’s toughest test yet.

>> The return of live periods is the topic of discussion in this week’s Nebraska Preps Postgame show.

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