Wednesday officially marked the 2020 National Signing Day around college football. But you wouldn’t have known it around Lincoln; Nebraska’s work was already done in the early signing period. That’s not to say head coach Scott Frost and the rest of his coaching staff weren’t still busy (there’s still work being done), but the quiet around Memorial Stadium meant Frost didn’t need to do any media.
And yet, he still made some time to sit down with Husker Sports Nightly’s Greg Sharpe and fill Husker nation in on how the team is preparing for the upcoming 2020 campaign, how some in the 2020 recruiting class look already, and lots more.
Here are the highlights from that appearance.
>> Frost said if the team had two priorities in the 2020 cycle, it was adding more weapons at the skill positions on offense and adding edge rushers, be it at outside 'backer or defensive end.
Nebraska accomplished both this cycle.
At wideout, Nebraska added a handful of speedy, multi-dimensional players like Marcus Fleming, Will Nixon and Alante Brown. Frost mentioned Nixon and Brown both as someone who could carry the football a bit.
Manning is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior from Texas, while Betts is a native of Bellevue, Nebraska, and stands at 6-foot-2.
"To be honest with you, in my coaching career I've never really had guys that looked like those two," he said. "I think both those guys have NFL bodies. I think Omar looks like a Sunday guy right now and it's up to us as coaches to make sure we get him playing that way."
"I do feel great about (Dedrick) Mills coming back, and Rahmir (Johnson) did some really good things at the end of the year and obviously has the speed we're looking for," he said. "Sevion is a kid I just love being around. I think he has a chance to be a complete back for us. Marvin fits our offense perfect and I think he's going to be physically ready to come help. So, we're going to have to rely on some young kids."
>> Frost opened by touching on the two staff changes Nebraska experienced this offseason: the return of Mike Dawson as Nebraska outside linebacker coach and the addition of Matt Lubick as the team’s offensive coordinator and wideout coach.
On Dawson, Frost had this to say: “Mike Dawson’s just a great human being. He’s a really good football coach, he brings energy and passion, his guys are always going to play tough. We needed to be better at outside linebacker. Quite a few big plays that we gave up last year were because we weren’t in the right places or creating the plays at that spot. I feel great about the guys we have at that position now and I think having (Dawson) working with those guys will make us better."
On Lubick, who coached with Frost at Oregon when Frost was the OC there, Frost had this to say: "Again, Matt's just a great human being and a great friend. … He's going to get our guys blocking better, running better routes, more disciplined, and he's certainly going to have more talent to work with now with the guys we brought in."
Frost added that Lubick has already "taken charge" in trying to up the efficiency and organization of the offense. We'll have to wait to find out what that means, but Frost said that with as close as Nebraska has been since taking over, a little bit here and there can be the difference between getting over the hump and falling back down it.
>> Frost said he's been able to see some of the team workouts throughout winter conditioning, and the reports he's gotten from strength coach Zach Duval have been positive.
"Finally feel like the attitude on our team is what we want," he said. "You see the camaraderie, you see the leadership, you see guys buying in and selling out. That's a good start. Then a lot of work has to go in to build what we need to build, but we're a lot bigger when you look at our team. I think our length is better, which you need in this league.
"There's a lot of potential there. It's still potential right now and it's up to all of us to to the work to get it there."
>> That last line was a theme from Frost. Nebraska has hope right now, but it had hope last offseason, too, and ended with only one extra win on the record.
"I remember Coach (Tom) Osborne would never really say more about a player than, 'I think he's a pretty good player, he could be a pretty good player,'" Frost said. "Nebraska fans, if I say too much, are going to take the accolades I use on these guys and turn them into the next Tommie Frazier or the next Dave Rimington and that's not really fair to these kids. I'm really happy about the signing class and what we have and what we added, and anxious to help these guys along their first steps of development."
But it's that same fan excitement, Frost said, that plays a role in Nebraska's ability to sign back-to-back top-25 recruiting classes on the heels of a 4-8 and 5-7 season.
"I want to give a lot of credit to Nebraska fans and the people of this state because that makes an enormous difference in recruiting for us," Frost said. "When people see the support of fans, when they get follows and likes on Twitter and when they see the stadium full every week. A lot of credit has to go to Nebraska fans.
"We're going to recruit well every year at Nebraska is because of what Nebraska is and what Nebraska has to offer. … But we don't want to be about winning signing day, we want to be about winning games. We're starting to get the type of players in the program that hopefully we'll be able to do that."
>> On Jan. 31, ESPN reported that Big Ten athletic directors were in support of a proposal to allow a one-time penalty-free transfer.
The report stated the Big Ten a year ago formally introduced a proposal for a one-time transfer exemption, but the NCAA's board of directors introduced a moratorium on transfer-related proposals for the 2019-20 legislative cycle that Novemeber. The hope, according to ESPN, is the moratorium is lifted and the proposal would be considered as early as this spring.
Transfers have been a hot-button topic for a while now. The transfer portal was recently implemented and players were given the freedom to transfer without a school being able to block their move.
Frost said his understanding of the proposal was that it was to implement a one-time transfer exemption for all sports. Currently, five NCAA sports do not offer a one-time transfer exemption: football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and men's ice hockey.
"It probably doesn't make a lot of sense that there are restrictions on transferring in some sports and not other sports," he said. "At the same time, I think we need to make sure the transfer rules are such that it doesn't really change the dynamics of intercollegiate sports and amateurism. I think the Big Ten was trying to push that dialogue along and it sounds like people have punted on that down the road a bit. Sooner or later we're going to have to make those decisions."
Frost, when asked about Nebraska's activity in the transfer portal, said it hasn't been the "gold mine" some might think it is and they don't plan to build through the portal. He said there are good players but "not as many as people think."
Since coming to Lincoln, Frost has taken a grad transfer out of the portal each of his first two years, but only graduate transfers. Tre Neal followed his coaching staff from Central Florida in 2018 and then Darrion Daniels and Kanawai Noa transferred to Nebraska in 2019. Daniels' younger brother, Damion, was already on the team and Noa came from Cal where the Huskers plucked defensive line coach Tony Tuioti away from the same offseason.
Nebraska has had players enter the portal this offseason but has not announced any additions to the team from the portal.
"We'll continue to monitor it and probably add a player or two here or there if we need them," Frost said, "but we certainly don't want to build our team that way."
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.