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Chris Hickman, Garrett Nelson and Nick Henrich walk arm and arm on sidelines of football game
Photo Credit: Greg Smith

Nebraska Recruiting: Why There is Constant Talk About Freshmen

November 08, 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.

This is going to sound strange coming from a recruiting guy but there is a lot of talk around here about freshmen. Someone has asked a coach on Nebraska’s staff about the readiness of a freshman each week this season. Coach Scott Frost is asked about multiple guys. Offensive line coach Greg Austin gets asked about Bryce Benhart and Ethan Piper. Running backs coach Ryan Held is always asked about Rahmir Johnson. Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud fields questions about Nick Henrich. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton answers questions about Chris Hickman. We did see Hickman get some snaps against Purdue. 

The list goes on but you get the point. The question I want to examine is: why is there constant talk about freshmen?

Let me say up front that I believe if Nebraska was 7-2, we wouldn’t be having these conversations so often. A large part of why Austin gets asked so much about Benhart is because fans can see the struggles on the offensive line so they are looking for a solution. That's perfectly fine. 

Is a freshman offensive tackle the difference between Nebraska winning and losing games? I’d argue that the answer to that question is no. Even though I believe Benhart is a future All-Big Ten type of talent the staff doesn’t think he’s ready yet and that is ok. 

Another big reason why there is so much chatter about the freshmen is the new four-game redshirt rule. That rule states players can take part in up to four games and save a year of eligibility. There is a lot of discussion if this is the game that a certain player uses one of his four games. At this point it seems like the rule is causing a lot of extra work for coaching staffs. Frost and his staff do have reasoning behind what they are doing as he explained on Wednesday. 

"We're going to try to use as many guys as we can without wasting a year," Frost said. "If guys were going to get limited reps, it doesn't make any sense to play him 30 snaps all year and have that be one of the years of eligibility. We got to look out for team number one, but also for those guys' wellbeing, and to just burn a year to play a few snaps doesn't make sense, but if we have games left, we'll try."

There is room for debate about how the coaching staff has handled playing some of the guys from the 2019 recruiting class. Not everyone is going to be Wan’Dale Robinson or Garrett Nelson. They make it easy to see its time to play right away. Yet, it's not normal to have 8-12 true freshmen out there making an impact for your program on Saturdays. 

The Huskers are taking a long game approach to developing the 2019 class. That will end up looking smart if the class becomes the core of that brings Nebraska “back” if it gets there.

Recruit Watch

>> Minnesota athlete Matthais Algarin accepted a walk-on offer in football from the Huskers. He will also run track in college. 

>> Scottsbluff linebacker Braden Klover received an offer to walk-on with the Huskers on Thursday. 

>> Junior college defensive end Junior Aho got an offer from Nebraska on Thursday as it continues to focus on new junior college offers after receiving more film.

>> Houston offensive lineman Kendal Septs decommitted from Houston yesterday. He might be one to keep an eye on if the Huskers continue pursuing offensive linemen. 


>> Our bye week coaches tracker (Premium) has been updated including where coach Frost has been on Thursday. 

>> Tom’s Time is exploring heartaches by the number in the 1989 Orange Bowl.

>> Jacob Padilla’s basketball previews are still rolling (Premium) with a look at Samari Curtis and the scout team.

>> Husker volleyball tamed the Wildcats with serve, block and defense on Wednesday night. 

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