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Nebraska Football

They Said It: Scott Frost Discusses Nebraska's 2019 Recruiting Class

February 6, 2019
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Coach Scott Frost addressed the media Wednesday to discuss National Signing Day. Frost talked about how Nebraska handled the 2019 recruiting class after the early signing period, catching up with this recruiting cycle and much more.

Here's the full transcript from his question-and-answer session.

On his approach recruiting the last few spots over the last month:

“In the January recruiting cycle, we wanted to look around and take a look and see if we thought anybody fit us and if they did take our best swing at them. This year was different than last year. Last year, there was quite a bit of really good players still available after the first signing day. This year, there weren’t near as many and the guys that were got recruited by everybody. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes when you want to just take another guy or two to fill a spot, those don’t turn out as good as often as guys you’ve recruited and know well. So, we did our best to get to know some guys and take some looks at some guys that we thought might still be able to help at certain positions but we weren’t going to reach and take guys just to take them.”

On future approaches:

“I think this is probably where we’ll land going forward and I think most people will. I think people are landing there because that’s the trend right now. Like I said last year, there was a good number of good players that didn’t sign. There were still some last year, but not the same numbers. If this year is any indication, most people are going to sign their classes early and you better have the guys in the boat that you really want with a few spots in your back pocket if you’re doing it right.”

On if he feels caught up on the recruiting cycle:

“Just being honest, when you come in as a new coach you’re two years behind because you’re just trying to come in here. We were just starting to look at 2019 guys last year that we could get to Nebraska in December. We’re a lot farther down the road now, looking at 2020s already in January, some 2021s. We’re probably still a half a cycle behind, but that’s going to be easy to catch the rest of the way up in May, having already looked at some young kids in May recruiting. We can be a little bit more specific with some of the targets we’ve already found and we’ll probably be able to get even farther ahead with the 2021 class.”

On how he feels about the numbers by position group:

“There’s nothing about what we’re trying to do that can get fixed at the drop of a hat. Coming in, there was a couple of position groups that were desperately low with scholarship players and players in general. There were some things we had to fix to get them the way we wanted them. We’re getting a heck of a lot closer, but going into this recruiting cycle I wanted to take the best players I could and try to help our team as much as we could knowing we weren’t going to be able to fill all the holes and get all the pieces that we want in one year.”

On Demariyon Houston:

“I say this about a lot of the guys, but first thing is that we really liked him as a person, really enjoyed his family. Demariyon is a kid that can really run. Our offense, as long as I’ve been in it, has been really successful and dangerous when we have a bunch of people that are weapons and can do a lot with the ball in their hands. Demariyon’s got legitimate speed, was a good player on both sides of the ball and returning kicks down in Oklahoma. Receiver was one of the areas that we were way below the number of players that we need or would like to have when we walked into the door a year ago. That was one of our priorities, to get some guys in and bring them along and start developing. We felt like we could use one more and we were glad he was available.”

On his specific ideal number of receivers:

“I don’t want to get into specifics, but we have a baseline number for how many outside backers, inside backers, D-Line and so forth that we’d like to have on scholarship. It’s never exact, you’re always one over at one spot, one under at another spot, but we’re getting a lot closer to where we need to be from a depth standpoint.”

On the playmakers still on the roster:

“Losing Stanley (Morgan Jr.) is going to be tough to replace. He was a great player around here for a long time, gosh I enjoyed being around him for a year. Hopefully, some of these young guys that we brought in can help fill the gap. There are some guys on campus that I’m expecting to make huge jumps this year. A lot of times, the first year in a system, some kids don’t quite flourish and they make a huge jump in year two. There’s a bunch of guys already on the roster from (Jaevon) McQuitty, to (Jaron Woodyard) Woody to Mike (Williams) to Andre Hunt, to even some walk-ons like (Wyatt) Liewer and (Bennett) Folkers. There are a bunch of guys that I think can take a step forward and help us next year. There’s a bunch of candidates to get us with three-four good wide receivers on the field and I feel a lot better about that than I did a year ago.”

On Noa Pola-Gates:

“We fought hard for a lot of our commits, a lot of guys put a lot of time in for these guys and I tip my cap to the coaching staff. Coach Fisher, Coach Chinander, Coach Held, Coach Verduzco and Coach Dawson were all involved in recruiting him. I think he felt at home here, I think he felt like this was a good opportunity. He’s a dynamic playmaker, he’s aggressive. You saw him hit on Wandale (Robinson) in the All-Star Game and you could kind of see what both kids are made of from that play and that game in general. I love that we’re adding more speed, I love the attitudes that we’re adding, I like the toughness we’re adding and Noa certainly is a part of that. He signed in December, and we kept it under our hat as best we could to allow him to announce it at the Polynesian game the way he wanted to, but he’s a big addition for us.”

On handling the transparency of the transfer market:

“The first thing I’m anxious about is the transfer portal is going to be old news very soon, as many kids that are going to put their name in. Obviously we’ve had some kids go in. There’s going to be different circumstances. We had one kid go in that just wanted to look around, but his heart was here and we welcomed him back. I think it’s going to be more and more important for coaches to have great relationships with their kids and have a building that everybody wants to be in and keep everybody happy so you don’t lose them. But there’s going to be kids from all over the country in that portal. I think it’s going to be important to have a spot or two in your back pocket in case the right kid becomes available. For us, it’s got to be the right kid. It’s got to be someone that’s going to fit on our team and it’s somebody that’s talented enough to help us. We’ll certainly keep our eye on that and we have some flexibility to take one or two of those if the situation arises.”

On Darrion Daniels’ potential as a leader:

“Well, you don’t become a captain of a team unless you’re a good teammate, and we want kids who are good teammates. I think he was anxious to play with his brother for a year. His brother kept hinting at it and we kept telling him we couldn’t do anything until the season was over, and if he put his name in the transfer portal. After he did, honestly it happened really fast and this is where he wanted to be. So we were glad to add a piece on our defensive line and I think he’s going to help us.”

On what he wants to see out of Dedrick Mills right away:

“Devine [Ozigbo] ended up being such a big piece for us last year. I think he surprised everybody, maybe even including himself, in how well he performed this year. I think he’s got a future in football. That’s tough to replace. That being said, I think the group we have, led by Mo Washington and some other young guys, are going to make that position more talented than it has been. But we’re going to be really young, so we felt like we needed to add somebody that maybe had some experience. Getting to know Dedrick, he’s taken an unusual path to get where he is, but we really enjoyed being around him and getting to know him and seeing what he’s fought through. He’s got some work to do to get here, but we feel confident it’s going to get done. He’s more of an every-down back, somebody that’s older and hopefully a little more durable, and a very talented player. So we need to get him here and evaluate all that, but we’re excited about him.”

On the talent that defensive backs coach Travis Fisher now has to work with:

“T-Fish has had great players everywhere he’s been. He does a great job managing his room, he does a great job recruiting to get talent in his room. That’s going to be a really talented group of kids. There’s some older guys with Dicaprio [Bootle], with Deontai [Williams]. There’s going to be a lot of young talent, too. So some of those old guys are going to have to keep playing well. They’re going to have to compete a little more and they’re going to have to show that they can be leaders. Some of the young guys were anxious to get in here and let them run around and compete. I think that’s going to be a deeper unit than we’ve had. To be honest with you, that group struggled a little bit to adapt to the way we wanted to do things early on in the year. The message to me coming out of the weight room is that group’s about the best one in the weight room right now. Between the strength and conditioning group and Coach Fish and Coach Chinander, I think that group’s in a really good place and will be for a while.”

On what has impressed him in the strength and conditioning program:

“Well my office overlooks the weight room, so I don’t get to see a lot but I can look down and watch them working out. Last year, we had guys that couldn’t even get through workouts that had no idea how hard we wanted them to work, and weren’t motivated to do it. Looking down this year, we’re not starting from square one this year. We’re starting in a good spot. I love what I see. I love the good weight that people have put on. I love the look of the bodies and I love even more the attitude that I’m seeing down there. So that’s where you can really transform your team and make it bigger, faster, stronger, and more importantly make it tougher and more close-knit. I see really good things happening in there.”

On his opinion of the depth at center moving forward:

“We’re going to have an open competition at center. Obviously Will Farniok is coming back. Hunter Miller has a chance. I think there’s some guys playing guard right now that we’re going to have to have snap the ball some to give us options with those guys. Obviously Cam Jurgens moving there is going to be a piece of that, too. So there’s going to be open competitions at every spot and there’s going to be some interesting ones in the spring, and center is definitely one of them.”

On the challenges of recruiting quarterbacks after sophomore Adrian Martinez’s impressive performance:

“When we had Marcus Mariota at Oregon, it was kind of tough to get the right guy for a couple years. I think everybody could see what he was, and I don’t know if you were necessarily going to sign the best kid in the country the next year after he had started as a redshirt freshman. With that being said, here, Luke [McCaffrey] was one of our top guys on our board from the beginning. He’s a type of kid who’s not afraid of competition. I can’t believe how quickly he’s come in here and learned stuff, how hard he’s been working and how excited he is. So I think we got a really good one in this class. We’ve got one coming in already for [the] next class that I can’t talk about. You’re not going to find an Adrian [Martinez] every day, but I love the kids that we’re adding, including at that position.”

On leaders in the class and how to recruit for character:

“To be honest with you I think that getting to know kids and getting an honest evaluation of their character on top of their talent leads you to getting the right type of kid. I think the way we recruit lends itself to us getting those type of kids. I think those type of kids are attracted to my coaching staff and the guys in our building because when they get to know us they see the character of these assistant coaches and other people and those are the kind of people they want to be around. I think they see the honesty in the way we recruit them, the genuine nature in the way that we approach it and that appeals to the right type of kid. I don’t know if I have seen an incoming class in my career that has me as excited [as this one.] From that standpoint, you can go across the board as see kids that were winners in high school, were team captains in high school, were in state championships that were in playoff games and semifinal games and state championships. I don’t think we are going to be short on leadership from this class.”

On any specific players he sees as a future leader:

“Yeah, almost every single one. I could just address the guys that are already on campus. I don’t know if I have seen a kid work harder in an offseason to learn an offseason than Luke (McCaffrey) and he has been kind of a little bit of the ring-leader of that group already. Wandale (Robinson) is kind of the same way, coming in and learning and he is going to be able to play more than one position in his first year because of the way he learns and the way he approaches things. Nick Henrich is cerebral and smart and a problem-solver and tough and I know he is going to be a leader on defense. Garret Nelson is a wild man, I love it. His energy is going to lead us in some good directions. Chris Hickman, same way. Brant Banks, same way. Jamie Nance is doing a good job. So, all these kids that are here I think have leadership potential. The great thing is they’re not the only ones and we have some more coming.”

On the redshirts and injuries:

“Touching on a few of them, Tate Wildeman is looking great, he was dealing with a knee last fall. Cam[‘ron] Jones, had a shoulder [injury] and he is doing great in the weight room right now. Casey Rogers had a shoulder [injury], he is doing a great job and putting on weight. CJ Smith is the one that got hurt in the middle of the season and that might take a little longer. For the most part, all the other guys that we didn’t have last season are up and going. Man, those guys are going to make a difference in the team if they can approach this in the right way.”

On the advantage of certain players not playing the end of the season:

“We will find out at spring ball how much work they were doing. I called them the ‘black sweatshirt posse’ because they all sat on the same place on the wall during practice, wearing the same hooded sweatshirt. Usually, the same one I had on so I went over and joined them from time to time. Those guys are driven. I mentioned Tate (Wildeman) and Casey (Rogers), Cam Jurgens, Cam[‘ron] Jones, Braxton (Clark) was over there a little bit. There are some really talented kids and I would get a little upset looking over at how much talent we had sitting on the wall. It was kind of just an unfortunate set of circumstances for those kids. That is going to be almost like getting four or five or six more recruits in this class and guys that already have experience with our team. So, I am anxious to put all those pieces together.”

On positivity for freshman that redshirt:

“Yes. First years are hard. It is different for someone who Adrian (Martinez) or someone like that who comes in and plays, that is rare. For the guys that have to redshirt, you are used to being a high school superstar and a junior high superstar and Pop Warner superstar and you come to a place and you don’t even get to play the game, you’re just practicing. It can be hard on some kids. Some kids use it the right way and take advantage of that year and really get bigger, stronger, faster, and learn scheme and they come back even better. Some other kids struggle a little more. The great thing is that I think we are going to get all our guys through that and they’re all in a really good place right now.”

On Maurice Washington’s weight:

“I have to be honest with you, I haven’t seen Mo (Maurice Washington) since I have been off the road. I am sick of traveling and I am anxious to see him.  I know (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Zach (Duval) is working hard with him and (Director of Performance Nutrition) Dave Eilis is working with him. And he is not alone, there are a lot of guys that we need to get bigger and stronger and to mature. I know how special Maurice could be if he was 200 to 210 pounds and he certainly didn’t come in at that weight. We are working hard with him, I think his biggest issue is making sure he is eating right and the nutrition side of it because he is working his butt of in the weight room.”

On growing the roster:

“Yeah, we want to grow the roster again. That was one of the secret sauces around here for a long time. Kenny Wilhite has done a great job with that. Trent Mossbrucker in our recruiting department, Gerrod Lambrecht has done a great job with that. I expect great things out of these walk-ons. Kids that we’re bringing in, we’ve brought a bunch in, in these last two classes. I think it’ll be very soon when some of those guys start helping us and down the road a little further, I think a lot of those guys are going to contribute playing and hopefully start for us. But, I’m not going to just let guys be on the team just to be on the team either. So, it’s going to be competitive just like your opportunity to be a starter at the university is competitive. That will put us in a really good place of where we have the right type of kids. Kids that are on the team for the right reasons and hungry to be here.”

On roster total:

“We kind of have a clearance to be in the 150s, and probably low 150s. I imagine there might be a little attrition. There might be some guys that don’t end up making it and some other things. Some guys that graduate and move on. We’ll deal with that as the situations arises. I imagine we’ll end up in the 150s somewhere.”

On recruiting the right guy:

“I want good people, and I want athletic potential. Some of the guys we have are big and have huge frames and are good athletes. Spencer Long is just a great example of what we’re looking for. He’s a guy that was a tight end. I don’t think he ran quite long enough to be an NFL tight end, but he had a huge frame and a really good athlete. A guy in this program got in strength conditioning and ends up being a great player in the NFL. Not every guy has to be an over O or D-Lineman, but I certainly think there’s a lot of those running around the Midwest and Nebraska, certainly looking for other positions, too. If guys are going to play here, it’s going to get harder and harder to play here and they better have some really good athleticism about them and better have a high upside. If they do, we’ll get them in the weight room, with the right attitude and they’ll hit the field.”

On being more selective with walk-ons:

“Moving forward, I hope we can afford to take that many numbers and we’ll see where we can get our total roster to. We’re going to start to get a little more selective. With that being said, if there is a great player in the state of Nebraska or surrounding states, and they want to be at Nebraska, and we’ll find a way. We’re starting to get a lot of things about the roster where we wanted, including roster size and some guys we can really look forward to developing because we think they’re going to help us from the walk-on program.”

On Big Ten teams in bowl games:

“I’m not used to having Christmas off. It was nice to be with family. I don’t ever want it to ever happen again. I’ve said this before, I’ve never been so anxious to get started the next year like I was at the end of this past season. Our entire team had that attitude. It was great to see the Big Ten have good success from bowls. There was some really good performances by Big Ten teams that we’ve battled with and played well with. In some cases, had the chance to win or won the games. It lets me know that even though the program wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted it at the end of last season, maybe we’re not that far away. I think that can be a beacon of hope for all of us as we’re working really hard this offseason.”

On relationship with Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor:

“I know Zac (Taylor) pretty well. I would actually talk to Zac when he was playing here. It’s kind of a Nebraska quarterback brotherhood that exists with most of us. Zac married the daughter of my head coach when I was in Green Bay. Coach Sherman’s daughter would be at practice in Green Bay. All I know about Zac is that he is a football guy. Everything I’ve ever heard about him is how much he loves the game, so he would be a reason to try and root for him and Cincinnati a little bit, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

On attitude this year versus last year:

“The biggest difference I see is how kids walk onto our floor more often. They are around the coaches, they have smiles on their faces. I think everybody is excited, and that’s a far cry from where we were. I walked into the first team meeting room, and you could’ve heard a pin drop in there. That’s not the team I want to coach. I want a team to where I walk into the team meeting room and they ‘re having fun and chatting it up and love being around each other and then they can dial it in and get to work. The attitudes that I see and the comradery that I see isn’t even on the same level, not even close to where it was a year ago. I give credit to all of the assistant coaches that are working with them every day. I think these guys are ready to have a lot of fun.”

On JD Spielman:

“I saw him this morning. He was going to class, I think. He had a high ankle sprain, don’t need to say much more about it. He was so close to playing in the Iowa game, but just couldn’t change direction well enough to trust him out there.”

 
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