Photo Credit: John Peterson

Tracking Nebraska Football’s 2021 Attrition Rate

January 26, 2021

Attrition is something of a tradition for Nebraska football. It happens to all programs, of course, but the Huskers very likely deal with it more than their closest rivals do. Since 2000, the attrition rate for Nebraska’s recruiting classes––not including walk-ons, which do help the Huskers mitigate some of these losses––is 39.9%.

This information is somewhat tough to track on a broad scale without touching every piece of data, but an analysis by Hail Varsity at the end of the 2015 season found that the average attrition rate in the division was 25% over the previous four recruiting classes in the Big Ten West (2011–14). The five Power 5 conference champions in 2016––Alabama, Clemson, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Stanford––had a total attrition rate of 21% over the previous four classes. None of those schools was over 35%.

Nebraska has had at least 40% of its signing classes leave without completing their eligibility in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018. That’s not including players who declared early for the NFL Draft, as they obviously contributed. A program wants to be in a place where players perform well enough to leave early. But the Huskers’ attrition rate has remained pretty steady over two decades, and losing nearly four out of every 10 players coaches hand select either based on their talent or to address specific needs is definitely an uphill battle.

Why does Nebraska likely have a high attrition rate? That’s another difficult question to answer. Continual change among coaches almost certainly doesn’t help, but location probably plays a role as well. The Huskers have always had to recruit nationally to build one of the 10 most winningest programs in college football. That may make some of this attrition inherent. It’s a lot easier to get homesick when you’re thousands of miles from home.

“You’re going to find some places, maybe, where kids are from such a long distance away,” former Northwestern and Colorado coach Gary Barnett told Hail Varsity in 2016. “Colorado and Nebraska, we sort of had the same problems in that most of our kids came from 1400 miles or farther away. So we always run more of a risk of a higher percentage of attrition than somebody who is in Texas or in the South. That’s always a risk.”

So far, the Scott Frost era at Nebraska has presented something of a mixed bag on the attrition front. Frost’s first class, the 2018 group, has already lost 52% of the players signed that year. The 2019 group has remained relatively stable with an attrition rate of 18.5%, part of the reason why it could end up being such a pivotal class for this coaching staff. The 2020 class, which certainly dealt with one-of-a-kind circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, already had an attrition rate of 21.7% in January 2021, which is high for a group that just signed a year ago. Maybe that’s an outlier year given the context, but history shows that attrition is something worth paying attention to in Lincoln.

So, we’ll keep track of it here. This post will update as new departures occur in the lead up to the 2021 season at Nebraska. The attrition percentages will not include seniors who opted not to return though they had that option in response to the pandemic.

PLAYERS WHO HAVE DEPARTED SINCE THE END OF THE 2020 SEASON

OL Boe Wilson (transfer)
DL Keem Green (transfer)
OL Matthew Anderson (transfer)
WR Wan’Dale Robinson (transfer)
OL Will Farniok (transfer)
WR Kade Warner (transfer)
QB Luke McCaffrey (transfer)
TE Kurt Rafdal (transfer)
LB Nico Cooper (transfer)

2020 SENIORS RETURNING FOR 2021

S Marquel Dismuke
LB JoJo Domann
LB Will Honas
DL Ben Stille
S Deontai Williams

2020 SENIORS NOT RETURNING FOR 2021

DB Dicaprio Bootle
OL Matt Farniok
OL Brenden Jaimes
RB Dedrick Mills

NEBRASKA’S ATTRITION RATE BY RECRUITING CLASS (DEPARTURES/SIGNED)

2020 – 26.1% (6/23)
2019 – 18.5% (5/27)
2018 – 50.0% (11/22)
2017 – 70.0% (14/20)
2016 – 47.6% (10/21)
2015 – 33.3% (7/21)
2014 – 33.3% (8/24)
2013 – 42.3% (11/26)
2012 – 35.3% (6/17)
2011 – 45.0% (9/20)
2010 – 40.9% (9/22)
2009 – 40.0% (8/20)
2008 – 42.9% (12/28)
2007 – 44.4% (12/27)
2006 – 33.3% (8/24)
2005 – 43.7% (14/32)
2004 – 30.0% (6/20)
2003 – 50.0% (10/20)
2002 – 40.0% (8/20)
2001 – 44.4% (8/18)
2000 – 38.1% (8/21)

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