Bellevue West crouches down during game play on the sideline
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Recruiting: In-State Coaches Outreach Increasing For Huskers

August 12, 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.


Recruiting in your state can be a tricky thing for college football teams.

If you land several in-state players it can be swept under the rug as expected. That’s what feels like happened after Nebraska went five-for-five with scholarship players in the 2019 recruiting class. It was a big deal when the team landed Garrett Nelson, Garrett Snodgrass, Ethan Piper, Chris Hickman and Nick Henrich. It was perhaps a sign of things to come under coach Scott Frost. As a Nebraska native himself, the Husker coach made a big deal of wanting to keep the best talent in the state home.

The 2020 class saw Omaha Burke star wide receiver Xavier Watts spurn the Huskers for Notre Dame. Last recruiting cycle was a mixed bag for Nebraska. The team did land five of the seven top players from the state. The problem was that two of the most high-profile elected to leave the state. Avante Dickerson and Keagan Johnson picked schools other than Nebraska. It helped drive the perception home that Nebraska has issues recruiting Omaha.

If those two started the ball rolling then the group in 2022 have kicked the ball out of the park. None of the top four players in the class from Nebraska are coming to Lincoln for college. Nebraska didn’t even make the top group for Micah Riley-Ducker, Kaden Helms, Devon Jackson and Deshawn Woods.

Bellevue West coach Mike Huffman has two of those four players on his team. He’s had players end up at Nebraska recently. Others have decided to leave. His Thunderbirds program is very successful and won the Class A state title in 2019. They are a leading contender to win it all this year. Huffman believes that Frost hit the nail on the head when asked about the problem recruiting in-state at Big Ten Media Days. Winning is the most popular answer on how to fix Nebraska’s current problem recruiting in Omaha.

Huffman appeared on the Gary Sharp Show this week. There is another key component the Huskers are trying to make strides in.

“I love the fact that they invited all the high school coaches to come down and watch practice this year,” Huffman said. “I think that’s a great step in the right direction. Now, I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to go, but now they have literally sent it out to every coach in Nebraska if you can get down there. All they ask is that you RSVP the day before. And they gave out the whole fall camp schedule. Those things go a long way.

“I’m not one of these guys who thinks coaches need to get in every building in Nebraska. That’s impossible. There are some towns, and I’ve been in small-town Nebraska, that can go 10 or 15 years before you have a [Division I] kid.”

Nebraska increasing the outreach to high school coaches is a move that will be well received. Coaches around the state will appreciate that. As Frost identified the real solution here is to win. It’s been a long time since kids around the state have seen Nebraska as a winning program. At the same time other programs around the country have shown a desire to come to the state for talent.

Winning and building relationships with the prospects will go a long way. That will help get things turned around on the trail for the Huskers.

Recruit Watch

>> Nebraska defensive back target Markeith Williams picked Miami over Nebraska on Wednesday evening.

>> Check out the mail that Elkhorn North offensive lineman Shan Archarya got from the Huskers.

ICYMI

>> Brandon Vogel explains why greed is good (Premium) in his preview of Nebraska’s 2021 defense.

>> Nebraska volleyball is hitting the ground running as official practices begin.

>> I have a Nebraska high school football season preview notebook (Premium) checking in on the Omaha Metro.

>> As we get ready for a new Husker season the Hail Varsity staff answers your questions in the mailbag on a wide range of topics.

>> Check out John Peterson’s photo gallery from Nebraska soccer shutting down the Coyotes.

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