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.
The questions never stop in the recruiting world. No matter what time of year it is, there is always something to talk about. This week, we continued the series by taking reader and listener suggestions on questions. This week’s question hit the topic of if Nebraska struggles getting top recruits on the field?
@GregSmithHV Nebraska seems to struggle with putting highly rated players on the field (for example Pola Gates). Is this indicative of talent evaluation or just how hard it is to adjust to the college level?
— Tyler Klimiuk (@Foss_07) February 14, 2021
The question mentioned Noa Pola-Gates specifically. It also paired well with this question we got from YouTube from Johnny McCarther.
“When do you think Noa Pola-Gates start seeing playing time?”
There are many factors to consider on this question. I often say that once a player gets on campus all bets are off on how soon they see the field. Being heavily recruited doesn’t matter once you get on campus. In the 2018 recruiting class, Cam Jones was rated much higher than Cam Taylor-Britt. That didn’t matter when they got to Lincoln. Taylor-Britt saw the field a lot his freshman year and is now one of the top corners in the league. Jones isn’t in the program anymore.
Garrett Nelson didn’t have many offers coming out of Scottsbluff High School. He was a 3-star prospect but has played or started during each of his seasons on campus. In that same class, Jackson Hannah was a 4-star who has now bounced positions trying to find his way. The point isn’t to say Hannah is a bust. He might find his way. The point is that each class will produce players who hit the field immediately. That happens no matter where they were rated. A lot of time, circumstances or injuries can also dictate that.
Several 2019 recruiting class players are performing as expected or exceeding expectations. Wan’Dale Robinson, Bryce Benhart, Nick Henrich, and Ty Robinson were the four highest-rated players. Despite Robinson not being on the team anymore, you can argue they’ve all hit expectations. The 2018 group has been a mixed bag. Adrian Martinez, Cam Jurgens, Maurice Washington and CJ Smith were the top four players. From that same class, Taylor-Britt, Deontai Williams, Casey Rogers and Will Honas will all be multi-year starters.
It’s too soon to say about 2020. It’s worth noting that Turner Corcoran and Zavier Betts were the top two rated players from that class. Both will be multi-year starters at Nebraska. The attrition from the top-end of that class is also
There is another side of the equation of playing guys early in their careers. Nebraska wants to be able to develop players in the program before turning them loose in the Big Ten. As Scott Frost has said before, it sets up better for sustained success in this league if “get old and stay old.” That means you need to be patient while some players develop.
It’s more perception than fact that Nebraska doesn’t get top recruits on the field. The team has redshirted a lot of players over the last few years. That hasn’t come at the expense of letting young players play who are ready.
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