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Tom’s Time: Huskers’ 1992 Recruiting Class Sets the Stage

May 21, 2020

Nebraska’s 1992 recruiting class included 22 players, two of them junior college transfers. 

But “I had the feeling he was the only guy we recruited this year,” Tom Osborne said during a news conference on the day following the signing of letters-of-intent.

That guy, “he,” the one “you’ve all been writing about,” Osborne said, was Tommie Frazier.

The quarterback from Palmetto, Florida, was one of two Parade magazine prep All-Americans in the class. The other was Marvin Sims, a running back from Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Sims wouldn’t play a down at Nebraska, transferring to Northern Iowa after redshirting.

Frazier didn’t announce he would accept the Huskers’ scholarship offer until the day before letters could be signed. In addition to Nebraska, he had narrowed his list to Syracuse, Notre Dame, Colorado, and Clemson, dropping Syracuse and Notre Dame first, then dismissing Colorado after Koy Detmer, a quarterback from Texas, had committed to the Buffaloes.

Colorado then indicated Frazier would probably play defensive back.

That left Nebraska and Clemson.

Tired of recruiting, Frazier wanted to skip a visit to Nebraska. But his mom insisted. Regardless of whether he was still interested in the Huskers, he had told them he would come. So he did.

Frazier was “the best option quarterback in Florida this year,” said Osborne.

Plus, “he can throw,” Osborne said. “Believe me, he can throw, too.”

Passing had become an issue because of Nebraska’s five-consecutive bowl losses to teams with passing quarterbacks, most recently Miami’s Gino Torretta. Fans were getting hung up on offensive systems, said Osborne. His concern was “who can get it from point A to point B.”

The recruiting class did include a passer, though, Ben Rutz from Oklahoma City. 

Rutz had come to the Huskers’ summer camp so he had been evaluated there, and “I thought he was the best quarterback to come through here in a while,” Osborne said.

Rutz would see brief action in four games in 1993, completing 2-of-2 passes, before leaving.

Speed had been a recruiting emphasis—that was every program’s emphasis—Osborne said, again based in part on the bowl losses, and Nebraska had been successful there.

 “We recruited better overall team speed than in many years,” said Osborne.

Getting the top in-state players also was an emphasis, and the Huskers got every Nebraska high school athlete in whom they were interested, according to Osborne, nine of them: Damon Benning, Clinton Childs, T.J. Scribner and Leonard Washington from Omaha; Jon Hesse and Eric Stokes from Lincoln; Chris Dishman from Cozad; Jeff Ogard from St. Paul; and Ryan Terwilliger from Grant.

Reportedly, Nebraska was interested in Stokes’ finishing at Lincoln East High mid-year and enrolling for the spring semester, something commonplace now. But the NCAA said no.

He would redshirt and then earn four letters.

Six of the other eight in-state recruits earned three or more letters and contributed to two national championships. Overall, 16 of the 22 earned at least one letter, and 14 earned three or more—Toby Wright, a transfer from Phoenix College, had only two seasons of eligibility remaining. Kareem Moss had three seasons after transferring from Garden City Community College.

The class officially included four who had signed letters of intent the previous year but hadn’t been eligible: Dwayne Harris, Barron Miles, Christian Peter, and Charles Randolph. Their inclusion would have pushed the class over the NCAA’s 25 limit. But two in the 1992 class—Childs and Larry Arnold—wouldn’t enroll for academic reasons until a year later, counting against the limit in 1993.

In addition to beginning a reduction in scholarship numbers, from 95 to 92 and then 88 and 85, the NCAA cut coaching staffs, eliminating three grad assistants and one part-time assistant. As a result, Nebraska had dropped its freshman-junior varsity program.    

So the Huskers recruited fewer walk-ons, dropping to about half as many as the 50 or so in 1991.

Nebraska’s recruiting class received national attention from analysts Max Emfinger, Tom Lemming and Allen Wallace. Emfinger and Lemming considered the class top 10, Wallace close to it.

Nebraska “maybe had a better recruiting year than in many years,” Osborne said.

The media buzz around letter-of-intent-signing day was mostly about Frazier. 

But the class included more talent, much more.

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