Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: How Has The Huskers’ Approach Evolved in Big Ten?

July 20, 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.


The Huskers recently passed their 10 -year anniversary of joining the Big Ten. That’s going to prompt a lot of reflection on how things have gone for the program within the Big Ten. People that cover the program daily and follow it closely know the true impact of Nebraska making the move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. It goes far beyond just what has happened on the football field. Only discussing it in terms of football is just looking at one piece of the puzzle. For a deeper dive into that move I encourage you to check out the feature Derek Peterson wrote in last year’s Yearbook.

For the sake of this recruiting notebook, there is a piece of that I would like to talk about. It was prompted by a question I got from Chris Schmidt on Hail Varsity Radio Monday evening. Schmidt asked me if I thought that Nebraska had found its footing recruiting-wise in the Big Ten. That answer is layered.

The Huskers have had three coaches since joining the Big Ten. Since he made the transition from the Big 12, Bo Pelini kept a lot of the same principles that worked for him in that league. Those teams were smaller on defense but very athletic. On offense there was generally a big-play player or two and solid offensive lines. Pelini recruited in the Big 12 footprint.

Under Mike Riley the Huskers saw a big shift in recruiting philosophy. Those teams liked to recruit out west. Riley tried hard to plant recruiting roots in that region. It was what he was comfortable with. The skill talent that Riley built, or had interested in Nebraska, was solid. The trenches is where he was let down. The way Riley wanted to build a team was not compatible with the Big Ten.

That brings us to the current era of Husker football. Scott Frost came to Nebraska wanting to blend Husker Power with Oregon speed. You could argue that Frost leaned too much on the speed aspect when he and his staff first arrived. They have course-corrected in a big way. It’s been noted several times here and elsewhere that Nebraska has loaded up all over the roster with size. This is really the first time it’s happened like this since joining the conference.

The big problem is that as Nebraska has spun its wheels, the league has gotten better. There is no denying that many programs are in much better shape today than 10 years ago. That makes the Nebraska rebuild more difficult. So does changing philosophies in a major way every handful of years. It appears that the Huskers have a good recruiting direction currently under Frost. Time will tell if that change can be made on the fly for Nebraska. Then the program can compete for the Big Ten West crown.

Recruit Watch

>> Huskers 2023 target out of Kansas, Jaden Hamm, was offered by Tennessee.

>> Check out 2022 target Vince Genatone breaking the school hang clean record.

ICYMI

>> This week on the Straight Up Breakdown podcast I am joined by Erin Sorensen to figure some big topics out.

>> The last time Nebraska played Michigan, Frost said his team wasn’t ready. Are they now? Derek Peterson explores that topic.

>> Nebraska fan day is returning in 2021 and we have the details.

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