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Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: How Can Programs Gain on Top Teams on the Trail?

April 25, 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.

Every week the Hail Varsity staff takes your questions in the mailbag. We give our thoughts on a wide range of topics that are on the minds of our readers. This week we had a question that was so interesting to me that I wanted to pull it to explore more in this notebook.

Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State have a stronghold on recruiting right now. What would have to happen for them to lose some of that? Is it even possible at this point? (@TwinTwisterDad)

Here is where those big three schools have ranked in the recruiting rankings since coach Scott Frost’s first full recruiting class in the 2019 cycle.


  • Alabama- 1
  • Clemson- 10
  • Ohio State- 14


  • Alabama- 2
  • Clemson- 3
  • Ohio State- 5


  • Alabama- 1
  • Ohio State-2
  • Clemson- 5

In those three cycles alone Alabama signed 70 players that were 5-stars or 4-stars. It was a staggering 70 of 79 players signed by Alabama during this time that were 5-star or 4-star players. Clemson signed 47 such players and so did Ohio State. For comparison’s sake Nebraska signed 21 with no 5-stars. Ohio State is currently ranked No. 2 for the 2022 class. Alabama is 12 and Clemson is 25. Both the Tide and Tigers will make their usual pushes up those lists.

The task is daunting to be able to catch those programs on the recruiting trail. At least on a consistent basis. Other teams do rotate in and out of the top five recruiting schools. Georgia, LSU, USC, Oklahoma and Texas all give them a run from time to time.

There are three huge factors if schools want to catch the Tide, Buckeyes and Tigers. You have to win. At the level that those schools recruit, it is expected that they compete for championships. You need to be able to sell winning if you want to outduel them on the trail.

Your location matters, too. Certain schools are just never going to catch these programs based on their proximity to talent. Wisconsin wins a lot of football games. They’ll never touch Texas A&M in the recruiting rankings because of the talent base around the school. The school location also matters a lot if you are a northern school. Ohio State and Notre Dame are exceptions. It is very hard for cold-weather schools to recruit at an elite level on a consistent basis.

The other big part of this puzzle is the NFL. Take a look at how prolific Ohio State is at pumping out top defensive players in the NFL Draft in recent years.

That gets the attention of elite recruits. They all dream of making it to the NFL. These schools are putting players in the league at a very high rate.

As long as coach Nick Saban is at Alabama they won’t fall very much on the recruiting rankings. Clemson and Ohio State will need something drastic to happen to fall as well. There are paths to at least be in shouting distance of them on the trail though. As we’ve seen, those teams will win a high percentage of games but they don’t win them all. You still have to play things out on the field. When it comes to winning in December and February those are the kings of college football.

Recruit Watch

>> The Huskers have more Big Ten competition for Indiana pass rusher Demetrious Allen after Northwestern offered him.

>> Nebraska offered Texas wide receiver Dillon Bell (6-2, 205) over the weekend.

>> The Huskers made the top 10 for Alabama defensive tackle Trevon McAlpine on Sunday.


>> Erin Sorensen had a conversation with gymnast Chloé Lorange that covered a wide range of topics.

>> Derek Peterson took a look at true freshman running back production to set expectations (Premium) for Husker Gabe Ervin.

>> I spoke with an Iowa tight end (Premium) who has the Huskers moving up his priority list.

>> Check out our photo gallery from Husker softball’s battle with the Badgers at Bowlin Stadium.

>> Just how potent and prevalent will the Husker passing game be during the 2021 campaign? Derek Peterson took explored that topic.

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