There are several factors that can turn college football recruiting into a crapshoot. Building relationships, finding the guys who fit your system, the ones who have the right mentality to stick it out when the going gets rough and a good attitude towards academics, providing them with a sense of family, offering a chance to get to the next level if that’s a goal, on and on. When you’re tasked with assembling a transition class, the difficulty increases exponentially.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is experiencing this challenge, but he’s bucking a trend that Nebraska fans have seen for quite some time when the torch has been passed in Lincoln.
|Coach||Commits||Total Major Offers||Average Offers/Recruit||Pre-Firing Average||Post-Firing Average|
|Pelini||28||119||4||5 (11 recruits)||4 (17 recruits)|
|Riley||21||134||6||7 (9 recruits)||7 (12 recruits)|
|Frost||14 (Inc.)||87||6||4 (6 recruits)||8 (8 recruits)|
Let’s review the past few transition classes so that we can appreciate exactly what Frost is currently doing.
When Bo Pelini was brought on following the termination of Bill Callahan, there were already 11 recruits in the bag. However, Pelini clearly felt that his new team needed bodies and plenty of them. While he did manage to find some players that would eventually develop well, many that he brought on were not highly coveted. While he was able to fill up a roster, it didn’t set him up for great success in the long-term.
Following Pelini’s release, Mike Riley had fewer scholarships to work with, but was able to sell his vision and a family atmosphere to some quality recruits. This wasn’t a fantastic transition class by any stretch, but it wasn’t bad, either.
Frost finds himself in a unique situation. The fan base has been so fractured following the past 20 years that, to be blunt, only a perfect fit can make the Nebraska football program potentially purr as it used to again. So far, things look very promising. Following Shawn Eichorst’s firing and during the quagmire that was the Huskers’ 2017 season which resulted in Riley being released, quality recruits de-committed one after the other.
This left the Big Red with all of six recruits touting an average of four major offers.
In comes Frost who has a wheelbarrow’s worth of Coach of the Year Awards, an AAC Championship and an undefeated season to his name. Depending on who you talk to, a national championship as well and that can be spun when it comes to recruiting, but that’s a topic for another time.
As you can see from the above chart, Frost has used his momentum to immediately bring in over double the amount of previously committed recruits with the newer ones having twice as many major offers on average. This wasn’t only caused by all of those awards.
Pulling double duty as the head coach of both Nebraska and UCF, the win over Auburn, the 0-12 to 13-0 turnaround, Frost’s offense and Chinander’s defense, all key ingredients of this perfect storm. Not only has Frost’s stock never been higher, but it’s quite possible that he won’t see this kind of momentum again until he finds himself hoisting a Big Ten Championship trophy.
That’s not to say elite players won’t want to come to Lincoln should Frost’s initial squads struggle a bit, but you can’t argue results. Right now, the results say that Nebraska has a staff that can not only get the job done but makes sure its players will have all kinds of fun getting to the top of the mountain before hopefully staying there.
Frost’s transition class has every opportunity to surpass multiple predecessors’ in every way. The January 12th weekend has 10 visitors with a combined 94 major offers scheduled to visit campus as of this writing. Several of them have Nebraska high on their leaderboards.
This is certainly looking far more like a regular recruiting class than a transition class. That said, it’ll be interesting to see how Frost and Co. parlay their success following the second signing period in February into future gains on the recruiting trail in this staff’s first full class.
Recruits are going to want to see how efficient this staff’s offense and defense is on a grander stage, of course. There should still be enough magic from this past season at UCF for Frost to pull in some major visitors for the upcoming Red-White Spring Game and perhaps close recruits early to sign next December while the Huskers work to get the kinks out of their new process.
In the meantime, let’s see what happens in about a month.