Nebraska Recruiting: How Worried Should You Be About Inside Linebacker?
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Evaluation Key as Huskers Hope to Up In-State Recruiting

April 14, 2018

When Scott Frost had his introductory press conference, one of his best quotes of the day was about the need for a strong walk-on program but also for the need to have Nebraska kids in the program wanting to make this place great. In part, this is what he had to say back on Dec. 3. 

“When you have a bunch of kids from the state of Nebraska that are in this program, those are the type of players that would bleed for this place and are going to work hard to make this work," Frost said. "Guys that are really pulling for Nebraska. When I was growing up, every kid in the state of Nebraska dreamed about running out here on this stadium, on this field, wearing a red N on their helmet. There’s too many kids from this state right now playing at other schools, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that those kids are here.”

Now that Frost has thrown down the gauntlet for in-state recruiting, all eyes are on inside linebacker coach Barrett Ruud who is tasked with being the main recruiter of in-state players. When Ruud committed to Nebraska back in 2001 the landscape was vastly different for in-state recruiting.

“Number 1 recruiting is so much more year-round now," he said. "You can’t compare it to the old days. Twenty years ago, people didn’t recruit Nebraska kids because they knew where they were going. There may have been one or two every 10 years that would leave. I didn’t get recruited. Why would they recruit me, I’m in the middle of Nebraska? Once I committed, I didn’t know what a decommitment was back then. When you committed, then you were committed. Now, even if you do commit somewhere it doesn’t mean anything, it’s a commitment for now. 

"Now that there have been some kids leave Nebraska, other teams have taken their opportunity to come in and recruit it harder than they used to."

One thing that will be something to keep an eye on is how many Nebraska high schools change their offense to more of a spread style to better prepare their players for a potential future with the Huskers. This is something that happens all over the country, and while there are programs in the state running spread, it would certainly help to have more. 

“I think there was an advantage in the old days where they ran a similar offense," Ruud said. "For us as recruiters, we have to be good evaluators. A lot of the prospects that come from Nebraska are different than the prospects that come from Florida or Texas because they don’t play 7-on-7 year-round. They play three sports and work in the summer, too. We have to be able to project a lot better with kids from this state, see where their frame is and what they could contribute. We need really good evaluations.”

There are a couple of obvious Power 5 prospects at Omaha Burke in the 2019 recruiting class that everyone knows about with 4-star tight end Chris Hickman and 4-star linebacker Nick Henrich. However, one secret ingredient to future Husker success could be an increased success rate of identifying homegrown players and developing them into contributors.  

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