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.
Whenever a new coaching staff comes to town, they always have a blueprint or template for each position they like to recruit. Sometimes that changes over the course of a tenure at a school. Coach Scott Frost is set to sign his fourth recruiting class at Nebraska. How have things evolved on the trail for him and his staff?
One big change that we’ve seen in the 2021 class is that the group is more regional. Nine of the players in the class are from within 500-miles of campus. That number bumps to 10 if Omaha Westside’s Avante Dickerson joins the class on Wednesday. COVID-19 certainly played a factor in forcing the issue on that switch this cycle. The typical waves of unofficial and official visitors to Lincoln did not happen. As a result, the Huskers will sign what Frost called “a little more regional class” back in December. We’ll see if that sticks moving forward but there is a solid chance it will.
Size across the board has become an even bigger emphasis for Nebraska. It is most notable on the defensive line, offensive line and wide receiver. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton explained after the staff’s first season that even the tight end position needed to be reassessed.
“I know Coach Frost said that we need bigger guys in the Big Ten but for me actually going through it for a season and seeing how big Ohio State was and how big Wisconsin was and Iowa,” Beckton said at the time. “Minnesota had some guys that were big up front. Northwestern did too. Michigan and Michigan State, all of those guys were huge up front.
“For me being a coach coming out of the South, I know SEC football is on the same level but to me Big Ten as far as size, they are bigger here than in the SEC as far as guys up front.”
At wide receiver, Nebraska has clearly prioritized adding more size on the outside. Over the last two cycles Omar Manning, Zavier Betts, Shawn Hardy, Kamonté Grimes and Latrell Neville have been added. None are shorter than 6-foot-2. Offensive line coach Greg Austin has consistently added massive lineman to the program but even the guys—Teddy Prochazka, Branson Yager and Henry Lutovsky—are more filled out in the 2021 class.
Simply put, this team is physically looking more like the better teams in the conference.
Looking at the big picture, recruiting has not been the issue for Frost at Nebraska. Each class has been in the top 25. The 2018 class was ranked 23rd overall and fourth in the Big Ten. In 2019 the Huskers finished 17th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten. The team finished 20th and fourth again in the 2020 cycle. The current cycle is shaping up to be much of the same. It sits at 20 nationally and fifth in the conference ahead of signing day.
Frost has made tweaks along the way in this area of team building. For me, the changes—which are small in some cases—are big positives. They are one of the biggest reasons for optimism in the program moving forward. As the recruiting classes stack, we’ll see when the corner is turned on the field.
>> Arizona 2022 quarterback Nicco Marchiol committed to Florida State on Sunday.
— Nicco Marchiol (@MarchiolNicco) January 31, 2021
>> Elkhorn South 2023 defender Maverick Noonan was offered by Michigan State.
— Maverick Noonan (@MaverickNoonan) January 29, 2021
>> The Huskers offered 2022 wide receiver Jason Essex (6-3, 190) over the weekend.
— Jason Essex (@Jason_Essex11) January 28, 2021
>> As we approach National Signing Day, I give you some Nebraska storylines (Premium) to watch next week.
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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.