Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Greg Austin’s Philosophy on Player Retention Working for Huskers

April 22, 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.


Offensive line coach Greg Austin has a good problem on his hands.

Coming into the spring, four of the five offensive line spots were thought to be spoken for. Cameron Jurgens, Ethan Piper, Bryce Benhart and Turner Corcoran seem pretty solid in their positions. The battle is on for the remaining guard spot with several options emerging. Trent Hixson, Broc Bando, Brant Banks and Matt Sichterman are now all fighting for that one spot. The good side of that is increased depth along the line. The downside can be figuring out how to keep everyone engaged.

“The challenge is puzzling it, but then also the challenge is making sure the guys understand where their value is,” Austin said Wednesday. “When you’ve got that many guys that can play for you, we live in a world now where guys can transfer at free will, so you’ve got to recruit them while they’re here as you’re coaching them. You always have to make sure you’re being personable and doing things with them to make them feel valued.”

One of those players that could have transferred in the last few years is Sichterman. He endured a coaching staff change. There have been younger players that leapfrogged him on the depth chart but through that he’s stuck with the program and has built an improved relationship with Austin.

“I have a great relationship with Coach Austin,” Sichterman said. “You know, it’s always kind of weird when you get recruited a new coach comes in. Especially this year though we’ve been just talking a lot about our goals. And we really have a good relationship now. I love playing for Coach Austin.”

There are a lot of reasons why players transfer out of programs these days. Nebraska has certainly seen its fair share of transfers under coach Scott Frost. Yet, the offensive line has had less attrition than other positions at Nebraska. Only two of 13 offensive lineman that signed here under Frost have left the program early. Will Farniok and Matthew Anderson are the two. Willie Canty and Desmond Bland verbally committed to the Huskers. They never made it to Lincoln.

Anderson is the only player recruited by Austin for a full cycle to transfer out of the program early.

Several players that Austin inherited on the offensive line finished their careers here. Christian Gaylord, Matt Farniok and Brenden Jaimes exhausted their eligibility. Chris Walker, Bando and Sichterman are on their way too. Compare this to wide receiver where 50% of players who signed since 2017 left Nebraska early.

Part of this has to be attributed to Austin nailing it with his philosophy on trying to retain his players.

“I love my guys and if I take care of my guys, few will leave,” he said. “If you’re upfront and you’re truthful with your boys about where they are and where you expect them to be, then you don’t have to change who you are but if you don’t take care of your guys and if you’re a guy that kind of uses guys for just their talents then, yeah, they’re gonna leave your ass.”

Has Austin unlocked a secret to trying to lower attrition in his position group? Possibly. It’s hard to argue with the success he’s had keeping the players he’s recruited. It helps that on average the players he signs are from closer to Nebraska too. We’ll see if he can keep his attrition rate low moving forward. In today’s age of college football, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Recruit Watch

>> Huskers defensive line target Alex Van Sumeren was offered by Northwestern on Thursday.

>> Slot receiver target Braylin Presley committed to Oklahoma State on Thursday.

>> The Huskers offered a new running back in Texas back De’Anthony Gatson on Thursday.

ICYMI

>> Nebraska golfer Kate Smith is featured on the April 2021 cover of Hail Varsity magazine.

>> Patience and hard work is paying off (Premium) for Nebraska fifth-year lineman Matt Sichterman.

>> As Derek Peterson wrote, Greg Austin is unafraid of the portal and has developed a deep crop (Premium) of linemen.

>> Jaxon Hallmark embodies the Husker baseball whatever it takes approach this season.

>> The Hail Varsity staff is back to answer your questions in the mailbag including spring concerns and happy songs.

>> Jacob Padilla took a look at the Nebraska basketball team adding the final puzzle pieces during the late signing window.

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