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.
Nebraska has found someone to analyze its special teams.
It was announced on Tuesday that Jonathan Rutledge would be joining the Huskers as a special teams analyst. Rutledge comes to Lincoln by way of Auburn. He was also previously at Missouri in a similar role. The new addition will be tasked with getting the Huskers’ special teams back to average levels. That would then give the unit the potential to be a positive for the team.
Per Bill Connelly’s SP+ model, the unit ranked 124th out of 130 FBS programs during the 2019 season.
Now that Nebraska has its man, I am curious about a recruiting aspect of his job. Per NCAA rules, Rutledge will not be out on the road recruiting for Nebraska. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a say in who Nebraska adds to the specialist group in coming years. The part that is clear is that his input will be asked by Coach Scott Frost. Yet, will Rutledge want to stay with what appears to be the Frost model? It seems like the head coach’s preference is to not use scholarships on specialists until they earn them.
I think there are merits to both approaches. Those 85 scholarships can be precious commodities, especially in today's world of keeping a slot free for transfers. If you can find a walk-on that is capable, I understand not wanting to use scholarships on specialists. But that only seems to really be OK when whomever is doing the kicking for your team is performing well.
If scholarship kicker Barret Pickering had a great sophomore season last year—which was the expectation coming into the year—would we be having so much discussion about this topic? Probably not. The conversation would be how it should be expected to have scholarship players kicking and punting for the team.
My gut says that Nebraska will continue using specialists that begin their careers as walk-ons. If they prove it on the field, they will be placed on scholarship. That’s the opportunity that kickers Chase Contreraz and Matt Waldoch have in front of them now. Same goes for punter William Przystup.
Rutledge walks into Lincoln with plenty of options at his disposal. Now he has to pick from those options and find the right mix of players for the coverage units too. There will be a lot of eyes on the new coach.
>> Huskers quarterback target Peter Costelli received another Big Ten offer today when new coach Mel Tucker offered him a scholarship.
— Peter Costelli (@CostelliPeter) February 18, 2020
>> Priority defensive line target Ru’Quan Buckley showed off an edit from the Huskers on Tuesday.
— Ru'Quan Buckley (@Darealruquan) February 18, 2020
>> Bolingbrook (Illinois) High School linebacker Tyler McLaurin picked up an offer from Boston College as his recruitment continues to pick up steam.
— Tyler McLaurin ❄️ (@TMcLaurin21) February 17, 2020
>> Clemson defensive line transfer Xavier Kelly will be finishing his college career at Arkansas.
— Xavier Kelly (@xavierkelly22) February 18, 2020
>> Derek Peterson takes a look at numbers and offensive wrinkles (Premium) for Nebraska basketball’s new starting five.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.