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Nebraska Recruiting: Will Rise of NIL in Recruiting Change Huskers’ Strategy on Trail?

May 04, 2022

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.


There are mixed feelings right now surrounding what is happening in college football. This offseason has been a wild ride that started with the unpredictable coaching carousel. The combination of the transfer portal, one-time transfer rule and Name, Image and Likeness have produced results that most didn’t realize was possible.

There has been a lot of talk about the role of NIL for the Huskers landing Ochaun Mathis. The reports are all over the place that a significant NIL deal was put in place to help Nebraska secure Mathis. I’ve been asked several questions about what this all means for Nebraska recruiting. Is this sustainable or is it even a good thing?

Let’s talk about it.

I do want to point something out. NIL certainly played a role in Mathis’ decision. Not just any school could have pulled this off. He wasn’t going to any random school that offered the most upfront money. Oregon State isn’t going to pull a top quarterback and pass rusher out of the portal in the same offseason. Something else had to draw Mathis to Nebraska too. It could be as simple as the Big Ten providing a great chance to sharpen his skills for the NFL.

The big picture of what this means for Nebraska recruiting is mostly positive. Nebraska football has shown the ability to use NIL to land help land big fish in the transfer portal. It remains to be seen if the program can translate that over to high school recruiting. They are likely to try. That could result in more high-profile players getting interested in the program.

The really interesting thing to me about that is related to perception. Word is spreading quickly that the Huskers are serious about getting NIL dollars to players. The Huskers are on par with Miami, Oregon, Texas A&M and others who are out in front of the new reality. Just the perception of that should get Nebraska’s foot in the door with more players. The key will still be what happens once players visit campus. Nebraska does a great job with visits and that will need to continue.

The other piece worth mentioning is the play on the field. Nebraska always has things going for itself on the recruiting trail. Ultimately players will want to win. Getting more wins would be a huge boost to all recruiting efforts.

It will be fascinating to see how using NIL shapes Nebraska’s overall strategy going forward. This offseason there has been a heavier focus on top in-state and regional talent. The talk about finding the right fit for the program is real. So is Nebraska’s desire to rebuild relationships in the state and region when the talent is booming. Blending that with dangling NIL money will be a challenge.

We are still very early in this new era of college football. It’s not even clear how long it will last. Change is always a possibility. Until then, the Huskers should use every legal advantage they can to improve the team.

Recruit Watch

>> Omaha Westside 2022 running back Dom Rezac flipped his commitment to Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

>> Vanderbilt continued making waves in Nebraska when it offered 2024 quarterback Daniel Kaelin.

>> Nebraska offered 2023 Alabama safety TJ Metcalf on Monday.

ICYMI

>> Steve Marik caught up with the d-line coach at Iowa Western to get the skinny on defensive lineman Devin Drew.

>> This week’s Padding the Stats looks at Baylor Scheierman’s decision, culture and Nebrasketball’s future.

>> The Mind Your Own podcast is back this week to remind us to keep talk and keep listening.

>> Jacob Padilla has updated the 2022 Nebraska men’s basketball offseason tracker.

>> The Hail Varsity mailbag is back to answer a wide-range of football topics in the offseason.

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