It was a big day in Nebraska football on Monday. The Huskers didn’t only announce that coach Scott Frost would return for a fifth season. It was also announced that Frost’s contract would be restructured. Frost also decided to part ways with four offensive assistants effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, offensive line coach Greg Austin, running backs coach Ryan Held and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco were all terminated.
That all has many implications moving forward for the program. There are both short-term and long-term questions. One short-term area to look at is clear. What happens with offensive recruiting in the 2022 recruiting class?
The Huskers have five commits in the 2022 recruiting class on the offensive side of the football:
- WR Victor Jones Jr.
- QB Richard Torres
- WR Grant Page
- TE Chase Androff
- RB Ashton Hayes
Big changes like this have unintended consequences sometimes. Worry naturally sets in if any of the commits are in danger of leaving the class. The safest bet to remain in the class of the five is tight end Chase Androff. His position coach, Sean Beckton, was the only offensive coach to stay on the Nebraska staff. The Huskers seem to like the Minnesota native so I’d be surprised to see him move on.
It gets significantly more interesting from there. Quarterback Richard Torres is a player that Nebraska believed in early. Torres stayed under the radar during the recruiting process. Then he committed to the Huskers. He was having a good senior season which landed him on the radar for some Texas schools. But he suffered a torn ACL and that seems to have slowed things down for him. He’s scheduled to early enroll at Nebraska in January. You have to believe he will have questions about who is coaching him after Verduzco was let go. There won’t be a lot of time for him to meet a new quarterbacks coach. Frost will have to do a good job managing that situation if Torres is staying in the class.
Colorado wide receiver Grant Page (6-3, 185) committed to the team back in June. I spoke with him following his commitment. He was quick to point out the role that offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick played in picking Nebraska. He had just visited Nebraska when he committed.
“Everything stood out,” Page said. “I just felt in my gut that was the best decision. I felt good about Nebraska.
“Me and Coach (Matt) Lubick have had such a good relationship since he offered me. We’ve always had a great relationship and just seeing him in person was good. He is from Colorado too, so on the visit we talked about home, we’re talking about Colorado not just football stuff.”
Because Page had a good relationship with Lubick, that could cause him took at his options. The problem is he also suffered an ACL injury this season. His options will be limited even though he had big potential at the next level.
Nevada running back Ashton Hayes also feels the impact from the moves on Monday. Running backs coach Ryan Held was his lead recruiter and a big part of why he picked Nebraska over Cal and others. The 3-star prospect is having a huge senior season. This season Hayes has 1,570 yards and 24 touchdowns. That’s through ten games and his team’s season is still going. Hayes will likely be keeping a close eye on who the Huskers hire to replace Held. Running back recruiting preferences vary quite a bit depending on the coach. That’s one to watch.
Victor Jones Jr. is the offensive player who has been in the class the longest. He committed to the team back in April. Jones has had the most interest from other schools throughout the recruiting process. Even after his committed to Nebraska it hasn’t stopped other programs from trying to get him on campus. So far, Jones has not wavered at all in his commitment to Nebraska.
You have to wonder if the news of Lubick being let go will cause him to check out some programs in Florida who are after him. Jones has been loyal to the program so far. I expect him to at least be patient through the hiring process to give that new coach a chance to pitch him.
There is a wild card in all this. Who Frost hires as an offensive coordinator could change everything. If Nebraska is going to run a different offense it could need different recruits. The new offensive coordinator might have other recruits he likes more. If he is coming from another college, what if he encourages recruits he has been in on to follow to Nebraska?
Keep in mind that Nov. 28 is when in-home visits start. The Huskers will want to have at least an offensive coordinator in place by then. That’s a tough bar to clear but is a necessity for recruiting.