Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Fans and Family Included as Part of Huskers’ Biggest Recruiting Weekend

March 26, 2023

Before three Hall of Fame Huskers threw Friday’s ceremonial first pitch and Nebraska starting pitcher Emmett Olson took the bump, a line formed on the concourse behind section 111 at Haymarket Park.

Five-star high school quarterback Dylan Raiola happily signed autographs for Husker fans willing to ask. Five-star receiver Ryan Wingo and Nebraska’s only commit of the 2024 recruiting class so far, Roger Gradney, posed for selfies absorbed the Husker fan experience. They were just three of three dozen recruits on-hand to cheer Husker baseball and softball teams for their simultaneous home games on Friday. The Nebraska football coaching staff planned a multi-day recruiting weekend months in advance. That weekend included meeting Husker staffers, former Husker greats and experiencing support of Husker fans. Visitors already toured campus and saw the top-of-the-line facilities before the uniquely Nebraska sports world.

The entire Nebraska coaching staff, plus football staffers, led recruits between the two games. Dominic Raiola, the Hall of Famer and Dylan’s father, was also there to enjoy another visit to his alma mater. Former Nebraska pitcher, Shane Komine, who was honored before the game, visited with Dominic and Dylan on the concourse behind third base. Dominic and Komine are both from Honolulu and played at Nebraska at the same time in the early 2000s. A large group of the recruits started chants after the scoreboard above them reflected Max Anderson’s 3-run first-inning home run.

Brooke Andrews’ second-inning RBI single gave Nebraska a lead 6-5 lead at adjacent Bowlin Stadium and brought visitors to their feet. Her three-run homer in the sixth ultimately lifted the Huskers to a 9-7 victory. Head football coach Matt Rhule then walked over to Haymarket Park through the brisk northwestern wind and received the warm embrace of Husker fans. Current Huskers like Princewill Umanmielen and Malcolm Hartzog met up with Rhule through the fanfare. Then came Ainsworth 4-star tight end Carter Nelson with 4-star offensive lineman Grant Brix, 3-star tight end Ian Flynt with his family and a group led by 4-star offensive lineman Brandon Baker.

Red-hooded fans clamored around the section throughout the night. The football visitors left as the baseball team put away a 8-4 win with the ominous red glow of Memorial Stadium visible in the Lincoln skyline beyond center field. Most of the visitors returned the next morning for another warm welcome at football practice.

Rhule’s coaching staff wanted recruits to see how they practice. That way they could determine if Nebraska was a good fit for them. He shared words about football and beyond while opening the doors to the greater Husker family. Former Huskers still living nearby like Ricky Simmons and Vershan Jackson visited Saturday morning’s practice. So did two of Nebraska’s three Heisman winners, Johnny Rodgers and Eric Crouch. A litany of visitors walked around campus on a crisp Saturday morning. From Love Library to the Cook Pavillion and along Vine Street, some heard whistles cut through the bird chirps.

Nebraska’s coaching staff wanted to build a connection with recruits and demonstrate the program is a family. Numerous recruits left praising the visit. Some already conveyed a desire to return. Time will tell how many of those visitors decide to join that family.

Recruit Watch

Nebraska signee Jeremiah Charles, who will join the Huskers this summer as a member of their 2023 recruiting class, jumped once again this last weekend. Charles leaped 50 feet, 3 inches in the triple jump to break a Martin High School record. That is the second-best mark in the country so far.

Numerous in-state recruits received invitations to spring practices. Omaha Skutt standout Sam Brummund, York sophomore Leyton Snodgrass and Kearney Catholic junior Carson Murphy tweeted their upcoming visits to Memorial Stadium.


>> Along with a star-studded group of visitors, Nebraska baseball fans also cheered three former Huskers before Friday’s game. Nebraska retired jerseys of legends Darin Erstad, Shane Komine and Alex Gordon before the first game of the Huskers’ series with Illinois.

>> A tough round of 16 loss to Kansas in the WNIT ended the Huskers’ season last week. The Huskers were plagued by injuries and suffered from inconsistency this past season. Hail Varsity’s Drake Keeler also outlined some storylines to follow this offseason.

>> Nebraska’s softball team swept Purdue in a three-game series over the weekend to start Big Ten play. Meanwhile, Northwestern took the top spot in Hail Varsity’s Big Ten Power Rankings as all teams started conference play.

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