Nebraska football fans love their team, and love to see their team ranked highly in every list possible. It doesn’t matter if it is a list of best recruits for the next season or best hot dogs served, Nebraska fans expect to see NU cracking the top 20 at a bare minimum.
(And if you think Fairbury brand hot dogs aren’t top-20 material, then you and I are going to have words.)
And, sure, recruiting is more important than the quality of hot dogs. So it’s not surprising to see a number of Nebraska analysts, including Bleacher Report’s own Andrew Steier, express concern at Nebraska’s lack of progress with the 2014 recruiting class. Right now, Nebraska’s 2014 class is rated No. 70 nationwide by 247Sports.com, wedged right between football powerhouses Kansas and Syracuse.
If that’s where Nebraska’s 2014 class ended up, then alarm bells would be ringing throughout Husker Nation. And it’s a legitimate question to ask, to make sure that nightmare scenario doesn’t happen.
But the fact is that the calendar says June, not January. National signing day is just under seven months away. And there are some reasons why Nebraska does not light the recruiting lists up early like other schools.
First, and probably most importantly, is that filling a class with commits early has never been Bo Pelini’s way to handle recruiting. Yes, Nebraska linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator Ross Els told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star that “[i]f we're going to sign in the low 20s, maybe 20 or 21 this year, I want to have 20 or 21 committed now. And obviously we don’t.”
But that’s not realistic given the recruiting base Nebraska is working from. Nebraska does not have a massive talent of in-state recruits from which to draw. Texas A&M, the top-rated 2014 class from 247Sports.com, has 11 of its 12 commits from Texas.
Texas, the second-rated class, has 13 of its 16 commits from Texas. It is unlikely there will be 13 3-star or higher players from Nebraska that will go anywhere in the country, much less commit to Pelini. And a nationally-based recruiting scheme will by definition take longer to assemble a class.
Nebraska’s amenities for a football recruit aren’t as obvious as other schools'. There is no beach to sell, no mountains to marvel at in the middle of the heartland. Lincoln’s a nice college town, but it’s not Austin, and Omaha can’t compete with Los Angeles, Chicago or other major metropolitan areas to attract recruits.
What Nebraska has to offer recruits compared to other schools also would suggest that NU’s classes will take longer to fill. Nebraska has facilities, tradition and a family-type atmosphere that really doesn’t come across to recruits until they get to Lincoln and see it first hand. How many times have you heard recruits awe-struck by the fan reaction, either at a game or during the offseason, and citing it as a reason to pick Nebraska?
Like all fanbases, Nebraska fans like to worry about their team going forward. Or, if they don’t like to worry, at least they are prone to worry when presented with bad news or information. So it’s not a terrible surprise that Nebraska fans are a little concerned about getting beaten in recruiting by the Jayhawks.
But it’s early. Way early. Big Red Weekend, the first real opportunity for many top-notch recruits to see Nebraska in person, is coming up soon. After that, there’s a whole regular season where recruits can come to town and experience the Sea of Red in person.
If Nebraska’s 2014 class is No. 70 this November, you have my permission to press the panic button. But in June, my advice would be to relax and let things play out for a while.
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