Former Nebraska linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Ross Els had the opportunity to talk about the Big Red’s recruiting disadvantages a few years back.
He said the Huskers must be patient. Getting talent to Lincoln isn’t easy and until that happened, Nebraska didn’t truly have a chance to shine.
“The problem is we aren’t going to get a ton of commitments, obviously, until we get kids on campus.
And because of our small population base around here, it’s hard to get kids to come visit us right away when we’re not paying for it. It’s expensive,” he told ESPN.com
Don’t tell that to Mike Riley and Co. It didn’t seem very hard to get 40-plus recruits spanning multiple classes to join the second-largest crowd in Spring Game history to watch the annual event.
Keep in mind that there were double-digit cancellations, too. Honestly, many of those prospects are considered longshots to sign with Nebraska.
Els’ excuse about it being hard to make Lincoln an attractive visit on a recruit’s own dime is just that: an excuse. It reeks of laziness.
The current Nebraska recruiting machine started with the Calibraska movement that began in 2016. Since then, several Golden State prospects have visited and five high-profile recruits have been brought into the fold including legacy Keyshawn Johnson, Jr.
In this class alone, Manuel Allen flipped from USC to Nebraska and California native Bookie Radley-Hiles has said his commitment was a year in the making. Both are four-star talents and Radley-Hiles has the potential to get a five-star bump.
Don’t forget about Eric Fuller, a four-star wide receiver the Huskers plucked out of Los Angeles that made Trojan fans take notice.
For Riley to win and take the Nebraska football program where fans want it to be (read: winning championships), he needs elite talent. After a bumpy start at Nebraska for the former Oregon State head coach, that talent is ponying up the money to travel and take in Riley’s vision.
The current class sits at No. 10 in the country according to the 247Sports composite ranking. It wouldn’t be a shock for that number to climb even higher.
Prospects who visited this past weekend such as Mario Goodrich, Joshua Moore, Calvin Avery and Chase Williams are all potential Cornhusker pickups. Their commitments would bring Nebraska’s four-star recruit count to eight and make up two-thirds of the 2018 class.
It’s no coincidence that Nebraska will be ramping up a department that has one purpose: analyze recruits’ social media 24/7/365. Every tweet, every Instagram picture, every story on Snapchat. All of it.
The Huskers also have perhaps the largest network of peer recruiting seen in decades.
For example, recruits across the country know who Radley-Hiles is. They’ll listen when he preaches what Riley preaches. That’s enough to get targeted prospects to take an official visit and bring the folks at the very least.
The numbers have been run.
If a program has elite players, it will achieve elite results.
While these major recruits are taking notice of Nebraska football again (with some signing up to be a part of it), coaches from elite programs who want them just as badly are likely starting to glance towards the middle of the country.