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Nebraska Recruiting: Huskers Feeling Good Focusing in on Players From 500-Mile Radius

June 23, 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 last two recruiting cycles have resulted in a question that comes up from fans quite a bit. I am always asked if it feels like Nebraska is turning its attention to more local recruiting these days. It certainly feels that way. The 2021 class saw the Huskers sign almost half the class from inside the 500-mile radius. So far in the 2022 recruiting class Nebraska has a pair of in-state commitments. The team also has a commitment from Minnesota and Colorado.

According to defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, that is being done on purpose.

“I think when you come and take over a program and there has to be some quick turnover,” Chinander said. “A lot of the guys we recruited in the first class we recruited at UCF and/or had known about. As we are getting to know more of these guys in the 500-radius, we’re starting to recruit those guys.”

What Chinander said makes sense. When this staff first arrived in Lincoln they leaned heavily on the connections they made before on the recruiting trail. Keep something in mind from the early weeks of the staff being hired. When they first took over they were still coaching UCF while getting the lay of the land at Nebraska. There was only so much time in a day.

Now entering the fourth year of this staff at Nebraska, things have changed. The staff has gotten to know the region better. They’ve also reshaped the roster on the fly. As Chinander also pointed out the roster in is a better position to take on more kids from the region. Those players may need more time to develop.

“We’re also in a position with this roster where we’re able to bring some of those guys in and develop them a bit,” Chinander said. “There’s a lot of great players around here that maybe need a year with us and then they’re going to take off. I think we’ve put a big emphasis on that area.”

It’s smart strategy to turn the recruiting focus locally a bit more. Plenty of teams are winning football games with Midwest players so it can be done at Nebraska. The elephant in the room is the transfer portal. The Huskers had a rough time last year with several players from Florida leaving the program quickly. If the Huskers are going to get where they want under coach Scott Frost a balance must be struck.

“It’s a balance. It’s not that I don’t want to go through it again because unfortunately that’s college football,” Chinander said. “If a kid doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel in about seven months anymore, it’s easy (to leave). The path of least resistance is to leave.

“I don’t want to go through it but we will. It’s all about balance. Can we balance out a really good player from Miami with a really good player from Omaha and another good player from Kansas City and another good player from Sioux Falls and as they come together it’s like, we can do this.”

The Nebraska coaching staff seem to have a new grasp on recruiting in the region. We’ll see how it plays out in the long run for the program still looking to take off under Frost.

Recruit Watch

>> The top-ranked linebacker in the country for the 2023 class was visited Nebraska on Wednesday. His sister, Keonilei, is a member of the volleyball team.

>> Lewis Central tight end Brayden Loftin has committed to Kansas State.

>> Husker recent official visitor Ashton Craig picked up a big offer from Notre Dame. Craig will visit the Irish this weekend.


>> In his latest hoops-heavy column, Jacob Padilla touched on Dalano Banton, Isaiah Roby and former Huskers in The Basketball Tournament.

>> For the last two years, Luke Reimer has been a favorite of coach Barrett Ruud. With an expanded role in 2021, Reimer has a chance to show the Big Ten why.

>> The latest Mind Your Own Podcast discusses Carl Nassib, Michael Sam and much, much more surrounding inclusivity in sports.

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