Kicker Barret Pickering Leaves Nebraska Football
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: What Does It Takes to Play as a Freshman?

December 27, 2018

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.

Not long after the newest batch of signees sent in their letters of intent, the questions started rolling in about which players could potentially make an impact as early as next season. That is a natural question to have and fans are rightfully excited about the latest group of Huskers and are eager to see them in action. 

Knowing that question would come, Hail Varsity’s Jacob Padilla asked coach Scott Frost about what it takes to get on the field early and which traits he looks for when identifying if a freshman is ready to hit the ground running. 

“I say this to recruits all the time, we wouldn’t be recruiting them from a physical standpoint if we didn’t think they could come in and play for us,” Frost said. “We’re always trying to recruit the best we can and the guys we are recruiting we think have the athletic ability and skill to come in and play. Usually the biggest factor in determining whether somebody plays or not is their level of maturity and if they approach their preparation and approach football like a pro and like an adult so that usually has more to do with whether they get on the field their freshman year than anything else.

“I tell guys to come in and dive in, go full speed don’t dip your toe in the water. I’d rather see guys tackle the wrong guy full speed than the right guy half speed and the guys that come in and just let it rip usually can see it right away and those guys are typically ready to try to contribute.”

A good rule of thumb that I try to stick to is that it’s much more likely for an early enrollee to be able to contribute in Year 1 than a player who arrives in the summer. However, in the 2018 recruiting class, just two of the early enrollees — Adrian Martinez and Barret Pickering — saw significant snaps while Deontai Williams and Mike Williams both contributed. Maurice Washington, Cam Taylor and Caleb Tannor all arrived in the summer and contributed quite a bit. 

Frost believes that either way, you can find yourself on the field if you have the right mindset. 

“By last count if I’m not mistaken there’s going to be six early enrollees, we’ll have to see how it all shakes out,” Frost said. “I’ve seen it work both ways: guys not getting here until summer or getting to school until summer and still contributing greatly their freshman year. It does help to get that spring ball under your belt. I think it gets you a little more familiar with the scheme, it gets you comfortable with the team and maybe most importantly it gets you used to going to college and having to deal with a college lifestyle. I hope we have players that are here early that help us next year.

“I hope we have players that aren’t coming until next summer that help us next year. I’m excited about this class, and I think this group is going to be mature enough and ready enough to come in and compete.”

Recruit Watch

>> Early on Christmas Day, 4-star defensive back Noa Pola-Gates’ mom tweeted out his final three schools. The list included the Huskers. 

>> Mookie Cooper, one of the top athletes in the nation for the 2020 class, released his top ten on Christmas Eve. The St Louis native included Nebraska.

>> As the Huskers search for pass rushers to close out the 2019 cycle, one new name that has popped up is Michael Lockhart. The Alabama native picked up an offer from the Huskers this week. 


>> We had a jam-packed holiday mailbag today with a great question about the best and worst gifts the staff has ever received. 

>> Jacob Padilla wrote about the increased size the 2019 recruiting class brings to the lines of scrimmage.

>> I gave offensive prospects to watch out for after the early signing period. (Premium)

>>The staff each presented a nominee for play of the year across all sports. 

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