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Nebraska Recruiting: Matt Rhule Likes Huskers’ Geographic Spot Amid Realignment

August 06, 2023

Nebraska head football coach Matt Rhule didn’t have many thoughts about realignment when first asked after practice Saturday morning. He trusted athletic director Trev Alberts and Big Ten commissioner Tony Pettiti to do what’s best. Then Rhule seemingly talked himself into the positives of welcoming Oregon and Washington along with USC and UCLA next year.

The way Rhule looks at it, Nebraska’s already trying to establish a presence on the West Coast. The Huskers added Sua Lefotu, Jacob Bower and Kai Wallin all from California, in the 2023 signing class. Brandon Baker, the top offensive tackle in the 2024 class, is considering Nebraska among his finalists. Rhule wants to use the program’s prominent branding and entrench recruiting ties across the country. He sees expansion as a possible avenue to intensify presence on the West Coast in the same way the staff emboldened ties to Texas.

Rhule remembered doing a media event for CBS and speaking with NFL commentator and former Kansas City Chief Trent Green. Green told Rhule he still lives in Kansas City not only because he appreciated fans but for its central location. For that reason, specifically, Rhule sees benefits for Nebraska.

“As the Big Ten has become the national conference, it stretches from East Coast to West Coast, we’re in a pretty good spot, geographically,” Rhule said. “Where teams will have to come here and play in cold temperatures, have to play in the wind. We’ll have two-and-a-half-hour flight here, two-and-a-half-hour-flight here.”

Rhule emphasized the logistics of that travel. He cited studies that showed acclimating from the East Coast to the West Coast requires multiple days to fully adjust. The manageable trips help not only in football, but in the Olympic sports as well. Rhule gave softball as an example, where Nebraska would avoid cross-country travel for a weekend series.

“I think this broadening of the conference could be really good for the University of Nebraska because we’re central, we’re in the middle of it and the weather will be good in football for us,” he said. “But also the travel will be more manageable than maybe the other teams. So, all you Olympic sport athletes, come to Nebraska.”

Nebraska already extended scholarship offers to 2024 linebacker Brayden Platt (4-star linebacker, No. 1 prospect from Washington) and 2025 athlete T’Andre Waverly (4-star athlete, No. 1 prospect from Washington). The four-school West Coast pod of the conference could also allow the Huskers more of a footprint in Hawaii, a proud pipeline to Lincoln.

Recruit Watch

>>Four-star receiver Gatlin Bair from Burley, Idaho, announced his commitment to Boise State on Saturday. The Huskers were among his final five schools following a visit to Lincoln this spring. Bair would be the highest-graded signing of the rankings era for Boise State should he sign his letter of intent with the Broncos.

>>There’s more buzz around 4-star edge Jayshawn Ross potentially coming to Nebraska. Ross is a fringe top-300 recruit from Liberty North in greater Kansas City. He included the Huskers among his finalists and he’s been more often linked with the Huskers than Oklahoma recently. Nebraska offered him in mid-June and are in good position with the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder.

>>Nebraska offered 2026 linebacker Colsen Gatten from Pittsburgh Central Catholic. A strong camp showing in June led to offers from Wisconsin, Penn State and Pittsburgh. He’s nearly 6-foot-2, 210 pounds just ahead of his sophomore season. The Huskers also extended a PWO offer to Yutan 2024 linebacker Derek Wacker. He is a 6-1, 220-pound senior who plays linebacker and fullback for the Chieftains.


>> A new Nebraska volleyball season begins on Tuesday. Head coach John Cook and his staff will have to arrange their lineups through preseason camp, a tall task when the Huskers have so many options.

>> The Nebraska men’s basketball team closed its summer swing in Spain with a lop-sided win in Barcelona. Fred Hoiberg’s squad took all three victories in the Spanish trip with a limited roster.

>> Get caught up on the Hail Varsity Radio Show with Chris Schmidt and Elijah Herbal. They’re on the airwaves every weekday afternoon and host a special Saturday morning edition.

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