Nebraska football recruiting isn’t going poorly by any stretch. With 13 commitments in the bag as of late August, the Huskers already addressed needs such as quarterback earlier this year. New defensive line coach John Parrella has impressed, bringing on three prospects including the son of former three-time Pro Bowl participant Robert Porcher.
Beyond the efforts of the current coaching staff, a recent addition to NCAA recruiting rules could fuel the Big Red’s recruiting rocket in this cycle’s second half.
Mike Riley sells the University of Nebraska — the fans, the school and the state. Perhaps the biggest challenge the Huskers face is getting family members to follow prospects for their visits. It’s huge for parents and guardians to come to Lincoln and get the full experience, especially since they’ll be lending advice that could massively influence their loved one’s choice.
The NCAA did Nebraska the biggest favor of any Power Five program when it passed a rule in April stating that a school can now pay round-trip costs for two parents or guardians of a prospect.
How many major recruits do you think Nebraska has lost out on, simply because mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, uncle and auntie, etc. weren’t able to visit Lincoln and see that it isn’t all farmland and tractors? Yes, there’s an actual fun college town. However, before August 1, 2016, some families had to scrimp and save to visit the Cornhusker State, if at all.
This issue demands more attention:
“Especially since recruiting these days has been ratcheted up so fast, you’re having sophomores and juniors in high school making their commitments,” Nate Clouse, a recruiting analyst for HuskerOnline.com, said in an interview with SI.com.
“So, it’s really key to get those kids on campus and to be able to show them what you have to offer and sell them on the fact that really you have more than just cornfields and football in the state of Nebraska.”
There’s another aspect to this rule that gives Nebraska a brand new one-two punch.
While recruits may make commitments as Clouse noted, many of them do so and end up flipping to another school down the line. The Huskers are hosting three currently committed recruits — linebacker Addison Gumbs (Oklahoma), along with cornerback Elijah Blades (Florida) and athlete Jeremiah Hawkins (California) — over the next three weeks.
A verbal commitment can mean a few things in modern recruiting. A prospect might be saving a spot in case other better options come along, rather than pledging his future to a particular school. Usually, if a commitment wants to visit other schools, it’s not an issue for coaching staffs (except Iowa’s). This allows a chance for the prospect to affirm the correctness of his decision by comparing and contrasting other schools’ benefits.
When a prospect says, “I’m committed to School X,” and he continues to make other visits, what you’re basically hearing is, “School X is my favorite, but I want to see what else is out there (for whatever reason).”
The Big Red’s carpets will be cleaned far more often since one of the biggest bottlenecks keeping even more major talent from entering Memorial Stadium has now been removed. For that reason, it’s about time the Huskers’ staff should send a cookie bouquet to NCAA headquarters …
… and fuel up the Big Red Recruiting Rocket. It’s ready for liftoff.