Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: Rhule Using Transparency to Focus on Bigger Picture in Recruiting

March 09, 2023

Nebraska is currently in a recruiting position it’s rarely, if ever, been in before. The top quarterback recruit in the country, a one-time No. 1 overall recruit in the consensus databases, is considering Nebraska among his final four schools.

The saga to recruit Dylan Raiola encompasses years. The Huskers previously fell out of favor with him, leading to Raiola’s commitment to Ohio State last year. Nebraska, under new head coach Matt Rhule, made a charge for Raiola when he re-opened his commitment. That’s involved Rhule’s own trip to Arizona, sending nine assistant coaches to visit Raiola in person and the surprise visit to Pinnacle Bank Arena. The top recruit is now considering USC, Georgia, Oregon and Nebraska. Recent industry predictions tag him to USC.

Rhule fielded a question clearly alluding to the quarterback even though this particular recruit’s name was never mentioned. How does Rhule juggle its pursuit for a five-star quarterback while ensuring they get the quarterback they want in the class? He admitted he couldn’t get too deep into his answer without tripping over a recruiting violation. But the broad approach, at quarterback and every position, is a comfort level with the school.

“I always want every student-athlete that I recruit to come because they want to come for the right reasons at the right time,” Rhule said. “I don’t get caught up in ‘I need this guy to get this guy,’ that’s not me.”

Recruiting timelines slightly changed from Rhule’s successes at Baylor and Temple. Historically, Rhule likes to watch quarterbacks in their senior season. But the recruiting aspect of coaching is now more spread out. Recruiting periods start earlier and earlier, requiring more proactive recruiting. Rhule wants to adapt. So his staff hit the ground running to close its 2023 class, pivoted immediately to the 2024 class and align their resources for the 2025 class.

Rhule attested to the same general rule regardless of modifiers.

“To me, this is each young person’s journey, and I want them to do it for the right reasons and come here for the right reasons,” Rhule said. “That, to me, when you’re really transparent, I want people to come watch us practice. I don’t know how you could commit to play for me without watching me at a mat drill or at a practice, because I am who I am. I’m not changing on the field for anybody.”

Rhule and his coaching staff extended invitations to spring practices and the Spring Game to athletes across the country. His open authenticity allows recruits to see if it’s a good fit for them. Some recruits look for a different vibe or mentality in workouts. Rhule accepts that. He’s publicly wished them well regardless of their college destinations.

Creative videos are shared on social media to build hype and promote different college football programs. Some might be drawn into the videos and find the environment completely different. That’s why Rhule’s leaving the door open to recruits.

“I think people would be smart to come watch us practice and figure out if this is the right place for them,” he said.

Recruit Watch

The Nebraska coaching staff extended a new scholarship offer to 2024 defensive lineman Jayden Jackson from IMG Academy. He’s a composite 3-star recruit at 6-foot-2 and 296 pounds. He’s a powerful interior defensive lineman with agility to run laterally at the line of scrimmage.

Rockhurst High School standout offensive lineman Andrew Sprague is scheduled to visit Nebraska later this month as part of the VIP Junior Day at Memorial Stadium. He’s a 4-star recruit who also came to Lincoln back in January. As of now, 18 recruits are scheduled to visit on March 25, including the aforementioned Raiola.


>> Hail Varsity’s own Jacob Padilla is stationed in Lincoln for the 2023 Nebraska State Boys Basketball Championships. You can read his takeaways from Wednesday as well as his ongoing thoughts from Thursday’s action. Of course, he’ll provide updates throughout the tournament.

>> The Nebraska baseball team squeezed in two run-rule wins this week when hosting former Husker head coach Mike Anderson and his Northern Colorado squad. This started a 10-game home swing for the red-hot Huskers.

>> Mistakes, including a few costly ones down the stretch, ended the Nebraska men’s basketball team’s Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday night. Nebraska went one-and-done in Chicago with fleeting hopes of an NIT berth.

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