ebraska assistant coach Greg Austin walking on the sidelines in a mask during the game against the Illinois
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

How Nebraska’s Recruiting Efforts on the O-Line Compare to the Big Ten, Power Five

February 18, 2021

With Nebraska all in on height on the offensive line, we recently looked up how the Huskers’ o-line recruiting efforts had physically shaped the room relative to the rest of the Big Ten. The measurables for that piece came from the recruiting profile pages on 247 Sports for Power Five signees. 

With the numbers already there, I was curious how the Huskers were recruiting linemen relative to everyone else in terms of talent. 

With an average 247 rating of 0.8738 over the last five classes, the Huskers (23rd) are recruiting just ahead of West Virginia and Wisconsin to round out the bottom of the top 25. 

Not surprisingly, the top of the board is littered with programs that would be at the top of every such positional ranking. You have your Alabamas and Georgias and Ohio States and Oklahomas and Notre Dames. Michigan State is the only team to make the College Football Playoff and not be in this particular top-25. (Florida State and Washington are the only other two who have made a CFP and aren’t in the top 10.)

Michigan comes in at No. 8 because Michigan chronically oversells and under-delivers. 

Penn State has recruited the third-best five-year crop of offensive linemen in the Big Ten, Iowa the fourth, and Nebraska the fifth. 

Interestingly, Indiana is at the bottom of the Big Ten and 60th out of the 64 P5 teams plus Notre Dame. 

The Big Ten has six teams in this particular top 25, one fewer than the SEC, two more than the ACC and Pac-12 and three more than the Big 12. Again, that’s what you’d probably expect based on overall recruiting trends. 

That Nebraska is at 23rd should also come as no surprise. From a recruiting standpoint, the Huskers have hovered around the low 20s, high teens since the staff change after the 2017 season. 

Husker coach Scott Frost and offensive line coach Greg Austin have seemingly signed potential cornerstone offensive linemen in each of the last three classes.

In 2019, it was Bryce Benhart, a high school All-American who would become a full-time starter after just one season with the program. 

In 2020, it was Turner Corcoran, another high school All-American who was starting the Huskers’ final game of the 2020 season. Corcoran was a top-50 player in his class and the eighth-highest-rated recruit Nebraska has signed in the 247 era. It’s expected that at the very least he’ll compete for the starting left tackle spot in 2021. 

And then in the most recent 2021 class, Nebraska kept Teddy Prochazka home. Not as highly touted as Benhart or Corcoran, Prochazka still has quite the potential ceiling as a 6-foot-8 offensive lineman who can move. 

As a health check for the program, Nebraska is seemingly doing what it needs to on the recruiting front. To start contending with Ohio State in the Big Ten, its profile will need to rise some more, but for right now, considering what it can and can’t sell, Nebraska’s doing fine. 

Getting prospects to campus is only half the battle. Helping them grow once here is, to many, more important. 

Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Indiana all find themselves under Nebraska on the table, but could conceivably say they’ve enjoyed more recent success than Nebraska in spite of that. Wisconsin, for example, has had four offensive linemen drafted to the NFL in the last five years. Nebraska has had none. 

From a developmental standpoint, 2021 will be interesting on a number of fronts. In most instances, this conversation on the o-line comes down to a simple “how many unheralded guys can you turn into starter/all-conference/All-American level players?”

If and when Benhart and Corcoran solidify themselves as two of Nebraska’s best linemen, the reaction will be muted. That’s what’s supposed to happen with high-profile prospects. After they arrive on campus, the focus and evaluation can sometimes shift to the other guys.

Nebraska likes Brant Banks, a third-year tackle. A push for playing time from him would reinforce the two-deep. Same goes for the lesser-known 2019 guys like Michael Lynn and Jimmy Fritzsche.

At the top, it’ll be interesting to see if Nebraska’s gets more consistency from Cam Jurgens and Ethan Piper at center and left guard. Two guys Nebraska moved to the offensive line from other positions, they’ll illustrate the staff’s teaching chops pretty clearly.

The Huskers have recruited well, and the fanbase will hope to see that reflected on the field more in the coming season. 

Power Five (plus Notre Dame) by average OL rating in the last five years:
  1. Alabama — .9410
  2. Georgia — .9384
  3. Ohio State — .9318
  4. Oklahoma — .9224
  5. Notre Dame — .9187
  6. LSU — .9106
  7. Clemson — .9052
  8. Michigan — .9042
  9. Oregon — .9021
  10. Auburn — .8989
  11. Penn State — .8989
  12. Texas — .8964
  13. Texas A&M — .8964 (exact, tied with Texas)
  14. Tennessee — .8950
  15. Florida — .8915
  16. Stanford — .8887
  17. USC — .8866
  18. Miami — .8803
  19. North Carolina — .8778
  20. 20.Iowa — .8758
  21. Florida State — .8746
  22. Washington — .8745
  23. Nebraska — .8738
  24. West Virginia — .8709
  25. Wisconsin — .8708
  26. TCU — .8689
  27. Michigan State — .8678
  28. South Carolina — .8676
  29. Kentucky — .8624
  30. 30.Utah — .8616
  31. Northwestern — .8611
  32. Ole Miss — .8611 (exact, tied with NW)
  33. Minnesota — .8606
  34. Oklahoma State — .8603
  35. Virginia Tech — .8597
  36. Mississippi State — .8591
  37. Purdue — .8580
  38. Boston College — .8574
  39. UCLA — .8574 (exact, tied with BC)
  40. Duke — .8570
  41. Louisville — .8566
  42. Arkansas — .8553
  43. Missouri — .8545
  44. Texas Tech — .8542
  45. NC State — .8539
  46. Virginia — .8521
  47. Colorado — .8513
  48. Maryland — .8508
  49. Baylor — .8506
  50. Arizona State — .8499
  51. Rutgers — .8489
  52. Cal — .8472
  53. Georgia Tech — .8469
  54. Illinois — .8462
  55. Vanderbilt — .8457
  56. Iowa State — .8438
  57. Syracuse — .8428
  58. Purdue — .8417
  59. Kansas State — .8387
  60. Indiana — .8384
  61. Washington State — .8363
  62. Arizona — .8351
  63. Wake Forest — .8347
  64. Oregon State — .8245
  65. Kansas — .8208

 

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