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.
Each recruiting cycle provides different tests for the Nebraska coaching staff. Some you know ahead of time while others happen organically during a cycle. Back in the 2018 recruiting cycle, one major test was whether or not Coach Scott Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco could parlay their success with McKenzie Milton. Using that huge offensive season at Central Florida to land their quarterback choice was critical. That first handpicked signal-caller was of course Adrian Martinez. He's on his way to being a multi-year starter in Lincoln.
The 2019 recruiting class had some fun tests. That class will soon become the foundation of the team but it took work to get it in place. To name a few, convincing Nick Henrich and Chris Hickman to stay home was no small task. Fighting off every major school in American for Ty Robinson wasn’t easy. Navigating how to stick with Wan’Dale Robinson after he committed to Kentucky was a unique test.
Building the 2021 recruiting class is going to have a unique test hanging over it. Every school out there will have to deal with it. Plenty will be written about the impact COVID-19 had and is having on the world of recruiting. For today, I want to focus on a different test the Huskers are facing.
Landing your top two overall targets in a recruiting class is hard. Tight end Thomas Fidone and outside linebacker TJ Bollers are at the top of the Huskers board. Both players are from Iowa. They also both have been to Lincoln several times. And both were recruited by this staff early on.
They are each far from slam dunks for the Huskers. The test that Nebraska must pass with each elite prospects is convincing each to start a tradition at their respective positions at Nebraska. Nebraska has under-utilized tight ends unlike those such as Notre Dame, Michigan or Iowa. Those are the schools in his top six along with Nebraska, LSU and Penn State.
Bollers just released his top six schools. Wisconsin, Iowa State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Cal and Alabama made the cut. The Badgers and Tide have a clear advantage on developing 3-4 outside linebackers. Justin Wilcox and Pat Fitzgerald are known developers too. Nebraska’s staff just hasn’t had enough time in Lincoln to be able to point to as many success stories at that position.
Just because Nebraska has a test to overcome with Fidone and Bollers doesn’t mean they don’t have positives that could push both to Lincoln. Position development is part of the equation. Only Fidone and Bollers know how big a part of the equation it is for them. The relationships that Nebraska has built with both prospects and their families is strong. The Huskers are locked in on landing both talented players. They are friendly and comfortable with other Husker targets and commits.
Nebraska has faced some tough challenges on the trail and has done a good job overall of meeting them. Starting the tradition of being known for specific positions has to start somewhere. Landing a pair of players that you can build each side of the ball around isn’t supposed to be easy.
Isn’t recruiting fun?
>> Nebraska picked up a walk on specialist commitment when Ryan Novosel announced he’d be joining the team on Thursday. The Illinois kicker told me that why he picked Nebraska.
“It’s big time football and I love the unbelievable opportunity to be able to grow with such an amazing program,” Novosel said.
— Ryan Novosel (@RyanNovo17) April 9, 2020
>> Kearney Catholic quarterback Heinrich Haarberg received his first Power Five offer when Boston College offered him on Wednesday night.
— Heinrich Haarberg (@HKHaarberg10) April 9, 2020
>> The Huskers showed some birthday love to priority outside linebacker target Travion Ford on Thursday.
— Travion Ford ® (@Tre_Got_Skills) April 9, 2020
>> Nebraska offered 2022 quarterback Beau Pribula out of Pennslyvannia on Thursday.
— Beau Pribula (@beauprib) April 9, 2020
>> Tom’s Time is looking back at how the Huskers’ big game struggles didn’t turn around against the Huskies.
>> Heading into 2020 the Huskers have a ‘sense of urgency’ on special teams (Premium) writes Jacob Padilla.
>> Nebraska women’s basketball added Cal grad transfer Mi’Cole Cayton and Texas Tech’s Nailah Dillard.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.