Recruiting never stops and it's easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Hail Varsity is here to recap all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.
We’re currently in the midst of a quiet period on the recruiting trail and our recruiting expert, Greg Smith, is off looking at oceans on some island, so the recruiting notebook is going to be a little different today. Blame Greg. (I’m not bitter.)
I’ve often wondered what it feels like to go from the most well-known player at your high school, with your phone ringing off the hook and your highlights playing all over social media one year to not even playing the next. Once a new season begins, the pomp and excitement over a freshman class fades and attention quickly redirects to the next cycle.
Not everyone can be Adrian Martinez. In most cases, only a select few freshmen will play major roles right away.
For the ones who didn’t from Frost’s first class, they had a nickname, the “Black Sweatshirt Posse.” Tate Wildeman and Casey Rogers and Cam Jurgens and Cam Jones and Braxton Clark were often all sitting over on the wall, out with a litany of injuries and unable to practice. Only five freshmen played enough to burn a redshirt for Nebraska last season and Martinez and kicker Barrett Pickering shouldn’t really factor into that (positions of need) but they do.
“I would get a little upset looking over at how much talent we had sitting on the wall,” Scott Frost said on signing day. “That is going to be almost like getting four or five or six more recruits in this class and guys that already have experience with our team. So, I am anxious to put all those pieces together.”
How many remember the excitement that surrounded Cam Jones? Or Tate Wildeman? Better yet, how many think Ty Robinson has a better chance of starting higher than Wildeman on the depth chart at defensive end when the season begins? Both are 4-star recruits, but if you took a straw poll, Robinson is probably the more popular of the two. Can’t really blame people for that; Wildeman didn’t play his first year on campus and attention spans are generally short.
“First years are hard,” Frost said. “For the guys that have to redshirt, you are used to being a high school superstar and a junior high superstar and Pop Warner superstar and you come to a place and you don’t even get to play the game, you’re just practicing. It can be hard on some kids. Some kids use it the right way and take advantage of that year and really get bigger, stronger, faster, and learn scheme and they come back even better. Some other kids struggle a little more. The great thing is that I think we are going to get all our guys through that and they’re all in a really good place right now.”
As we’re getting ready for spring football to begin, the recruiting attention is firmly focused on 2020 kids and the early enrollees are the talk of the town and I’m left thinking about what the guys from the 2018 class can accomplish.
If you look up and down the 2018 class, almost everyone seems poised to be in a position to compete for serious playing time. Jones is a personal favorite of mine on account of his physicality and potential at safety, but you can find reasons to be excited about any number of guys.
On Wednesday, when he held court as the speaker at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon, Frost talked about recruiting. About the types of kids who want to come to Nebraska and the types who don’t, about feeling like the program’s almost back to where he remembered it and about how to keep improving. “Nebraska,” he said, per Parker Gabriel of the Lincoln Journal-Star, “if we're going to be great again, has to be the best in the country at developing the guys we have.”
Don’t forget about the 2018 class.
>> A 2020 Omaha Burke prospect continues to reel in major offers. On Wednesday, Michigan became the latest Power Five program to offer 6-foot-1, 3-star wideout Xavier Watts.
— Xavier Watts (@xavierwatts6) February 27, 2019
The speedy receiver now boasts offers from seven Big Ten programs (Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and Michigan), three Big 12 schools (Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State), Notre Dame and Tennessee.
>> Husker running back signee Ronald Thompkins seems to be making good progress in his return from ACL surgery last season.
>> How much better can the Blackshirts get in 2019? Brandon Vogel took a look.
>> Greg Smith did give us some info before he took off on vacation, like which 2020 offensive prospects you should be paying attention to this cycle.
>> The Hail Varsity staff looked at the Tony Tuioti hiring in a new edition of the mailbag.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.