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Nebraska Football Recruiting

Nebraska Recruiting: The Impact of Losing Keagan Johnson to Iowa

May 6, 2020
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Recruiting never stops and it's easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Recruiting analyst Greg Smith recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.


The battle lines have officially been drawn in the rivalry between Nebraska and Iowa. Before you scoff and try to say this isn’t a rivalry: it is a rivalry. The two schools hate each other and are building a collection of memorable games on the field. But what has really added fuel to the fire is the recruiting trail. 

Bellevue West wide receiver Keagan Johnson‍ spurned the home state Huskers to verbally commit to Iowa on Wednesday. 

It is tough enough to lose an in-state target you’ve invested a lot of time into recruiting. It’s harder when that player is a legacy at the school. It becomes very difficult for fans when that player chooses Nebraska’s rival. That’s not a knock on Johnson as he needs to do what he feels is best for him. There has been a lot of talk about past staffs not recruiting Omaha hard. The current staff has made the effort and previous staffs’ mistakes are not on them. Losing in this case may not be reason for panic but it will create some reflection on Nebraska’s part. 

The scorecard for the 2021 recruiting class between Iowa and Nebraska is now leaning heavily in favor of the Hawkeyes. There are now nine players committed to Iowa that had offers from Nebraska. These were not just throw away offers. Several of the players on the Hawkeyes’ commit list visited Nebraska in the last two years. The state of Iowa is a big 2021 focus for the Huskers and now eight of the top 10 players in the state have committed to Iowa. 

The last two remaining uncommitted Iowans are 4-star tight end Thomas Fidone and 4-star outside linebacker T.J. Bollers. Nebraska landing Fidone would count for a lot. He is still considering both Nebraska and Iowa (among others). Bollers doesn’t have Iowa in his top group so he won’t be heading to Iowa City. The talent pool is deep in Iowa for 2021 but the two biggest fish are still out there. 

There is no sugar coating that this recruiting loss is bad optics for a program hoping to get off the ground. The things that need to change are clear but easier said than done. To be fair, recruiting has not been the biggest problem in Lincoln since Coach Scott Frost took over the program. Show steady improvement on the field and win more games. Develop the players you inherited and the ones you recruited, then send some to the NFL. Everything can’t be fixed in one swoop, but progress must be made as a show of good faith. 

It can be done but it will take hard work in Lincoln.

Recruit Watch

>> Huskers incoming defensive lineman Nash Hutmacher is enjoying himself during the shutdown and caught a huge fish. 

>> Nebraska 2021 quarterback target Dematrius Davis left the Virginia Tech recruiting class on Wednesday. 

>> Priority outside linebacker recruit TJ Bollers picked up a pretty cool honor a couple days ago. 

ICYMI

>> Derek Peterson’s 10 Most Intriguing Huskers of 2020 list landed (Premium) on running back Dedrick Mills at No. 6. 

>> The NCAA approved new recruiting rules during the dead period with a couple of interesting wrinkles. 

>> The Hail Varsity staff returned to answer questions in the mailbag including picking over/under on 1,200 rushing yards for Dedrick Mills. 

>> Padding the Stats takes a look at the most memorable games of 2019-20. 

 
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