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Nebraska Cornhuskers running backs coach Ryan Held prepares a drill during practice
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: JUCO Football Could Provide Unique Opportunity This Spring

April 07, 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 year has produced a lot of talk and articles about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on recruiting. The primary focus of that talk has the been the impact on high school recruiting. There’s good reason for that. We finished off the 2021 recruiting cycle without those players being able to take official visits. That’s a crucial piece of the decision-making process.

We also didn’t have camp season, unofficial visits, in-home visits and coaches could go out to high schools. The effects of that will be felt in some way for years to come. There is another big aspect to the recruiting world that wasn’t covered as much. That’s the impact of the pandemic on junior college football. The 2020 season was delayed until the spring. Games are underway now.

Running backs coach Ryan Held coordinates the Huskers’ efforts with recruiting JUCO players. He spoke this week about the challenges presented from the changes to JUCO ball this spring.

“Well, obviously, a lot of them are playing in the spring,” Held said. “That’s my Saturday nights, when my kids go to bed. I’m watching games on my phone which is fun. There’s gonna be some kids that are going to be May guys. There’s going to be some kids, that will definitely be December guys the next year. The thing for those guys a little bit is how many schools have initial scholarships left. That’s the deal. So, there might be an opportunity for us to get some waiver wire acquisitions where a guy might have to walk on for a semester or a year and earn his keep. We’re definitely going to be looking at that.”

It’s an interesting point that Held brings up. Scholarship numbers are always tight between now and the fall. Spots will be limited. We talk about the need to keep spots in your back pocket in case someone becomes available in the transfer portal. This year it’s needed for players who can leave JUCO ball too. What if a player who can make an instant-impact like Mike Hughes did for Central Florida comes available? Good thing the Huskers have two open spots right now.

It’s going to be a quick turnaround for players in JUCO ball just like the FCS schools that are playing right now. Held is in constant communication with JUCO coaches. He makes sure he knows which players they have. There are some transfers that came in and some of kids have redshirted. This is actually a big time for those players because they have a couple of games under their belt. The Huskers along with other schools will be following up to see who needs a deeper evaluation.

As we think about the Huskers adding talent to the roster still, it’s worth keeping JUCO players in mind. This unique last year could still produce some interesting situations down the road.

Recruit Watch

>> As you can see from the graphic, Indiana offensive lineman Ashton Craig is amassing a nice offer list.

>> Check out Michigan lineman Jackson Pruitt working in the trenches.


>> Don’t miss Derek Peterson’s observations (Premium) from practice on Wednesday.

>> Check out the video of the action from the Huskers fifth practice of spring practice.

>> Scott Frost popped into the post-practice scrum to give injury updates. We also have the other quick hits from the day.

>> I took a look at the defensive line which improved last year (Premium) but has plenty to prove still.

>> There is a strong bond built between Nebraska’s ‘grandpa’ safeties (Premium) which will hel

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