Nebraska Recruiting: Rankings Don't Tell Full Story of NFL Draft Woes
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Rankings Don’t Tell Full Story of NFL Draft Woes

April 28, 2019

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.


Over the weekend, the 2019 NFL Draft came and went without a player from the Nebraska being selected. It was the first time that has happened since 1963. From a recruiting standpoint, the 2014 class was ranked 35th and the 2015 class was ranked 30th. Based on just those rankings (which included seven 4-star players combined), you’d think someone in the group would have eventually been drafted. However, none of the 4-stars signed in those two classes ever made an all-conference team. That doesn’t tell the entire story though. 

There were a lot of holes in those classes when things were all said and done. Thirteen out of 25 players from the class of 2014 didn’t finish their careers at Nebraska. Six out of 21 players in the 2015 class didn’t finish their careers as Huskers. That 2014 class committed to one head coach (Bo Pelini) then played for two others (Mike Riley and Scott Frost). Position coach turnover has been even worse than head coach turnover at Nebraska in recent years. A lack of continuity helps explain a roster that needed to be overhauled by Frost but development has been lacking in Lincoln as well.

On the other side of the development coin is Iowa. All four players the Hawkeyes had drafted this year were 3-star prospects. Their team recruiting rankings in 2015 and 2016 (three of their drafted players left school early) were 59 and 47. I use the Iowa example to illustrate the point again that Nebraska has had a multi-pronged problem. During the end of Pelini’s era and the entire Riley era, the recruiting rankings were good enough on paper to produce NFL talent. Instead, identifying the correct players and then developing them were two of the issues. 

The geographic disadvantage of not being located near one of the top states that produces high school talent makes it hard for Nebraska to be a consistent top-10 recruiting team. There is no reason that Nebraska can’t consistently be top-20 though and then develop the players they have into better football players over their time in Lincoln.

The good news for Nebraska is that Frost and his staff are expected to get recruiting to a higher level and one could argue that this staff’s strength is development. Having the same system on offense and defense to recruit to year in and year out will also help in the development department. Head strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval is also vital to this. 

Complaining about past coaches won’t help the Huskers dig out of the hole they’ve found themselves in. Putting in the work on the recruiting trail while also developing those players once on campus will though. There is room to acknowledge how the Nebraska got to this point while also hoping for brighter days ahead.

Recruit Watch

>> Logan Smothers, Nebraska’s 2020 quarterback commit, is comintuing to dominate his track season. 

>> Keontae Jenkins, a 2020 cornerback target from Virginia, committed to TCU. 

https://twitter.com/iamkeontae/status/1121447221747167232

ICYMI

>> In basketball recruiting news, the Huskers landed top-ranked JUCO point guard Cam Mack. 

>> I caught up with 3-star Florida running back Marvin Scott III and he is ready to get up north for visits. (Premium)

>> Derek Peterson has the story of the behind the scenes reunion for Scott Frost.

>> Hail Varsity has a running undrafted free agent tracker to see where Huskers land.

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