College Football

Nebraska Football: Power Ranking Cornhuskers' Best Classes of the BCS Era

Patrick RungeCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2014

Nebraska Football: Power Ranking Cornhuskers' Best Classes of the BCS Era

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Nebraska football fans saw the BCS era come to a close in 2013, just as they began to focus on NU’s recruiting class for the upcoming season. In the BCS era (1998-2013), Nebraska saw three head coaches and one BCS title game appearance.

    So as we bid adieu to the BCS and gear up for national signing day 2014, let’s take a look back and power rank Nebraska’s recruiting classes in the BCS era, from No. 16 all the way to No. 1. In compiling this list, we will be looking at actual on-field accomplishments as opposed to potential, which will, by its nature, drive down the ratings of the classes with players still building their careers. Fair warning.

     

    (Aggregation of recruiting data from HuskerMAX.com)

16. 2013

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Class size: 26

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Cethan Carter

    Other notable players: Terrell Newby, Johnny Stanton, Nathan Gerry, Courtney Love 

    A class full of potential, of course, but precious little has shown out on the field as of yet. Look for this class to skyrocket in years to come, though.

15. 2003

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    NATI HARNIK/Associated Press

    Class size: 19

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: Joe Dailey

    Other notable players: Tierre Green, Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon 

    Remember the whole “gravitating to mediocrity” thing? However you feel about Steve Pederson, this is what The Vision was talking about.

14. 2000

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    DAVE WEAVER/Associated Press

    Class size: 21

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: Benard Thomas

    Other notable players: Willie Amos, T.J. Hollowell, Lornell McPherson

    Missing on Thunder Collins in this draft class certainly didn’t help, but there were a number of misses and no real stars in the 2000 class.

13. 2006

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Class size: 24

    Head coach: Bill Callahan

    Standout player: Pierre Allen

    Other notable players: Maurice Purify, Kevin Williams, Rickey Thenarse, Mike McNeill

    While Callahan built his reputation as a solid recruiter, 2006 was not one of his banner years.

12. 2012

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Class size: 17

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Michael Rose

    Other notable players: Vincent Valentine, Zaire Anderson, Tommy Armstrong 

    Another class whose rank suffers because its members have yet to prove themselves on the field. 2014 will be a real test to see how strong the class of 2012 really was for Pelini.

11. 1999

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Class size: 22

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: Jammal Lord

    Other notable players: Patrick Kabongo, John Garrison, Josh Davies 

    Nebraska fans can only be left to wonder how this class—and indeed, the future of the entire program—would have been different if Carl Crawford had arrived on campus instead of deciding to play baseball.

10. 2011

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Class size: 20

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Ameer Abdullah

    Other notable players: Aaron Green, David Santos, Jamal Turner 

    While the book is not yet written on the 2011 class, there will be little doubt as to who will be its standout player. The final ranking of this class, though, may look different once the careers of all its members are finished.

9. 2009

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Class size: 21

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Taylor Martinez

    Other notable players: Rex Burkhead, Eric Martin, DeJon Gomes 

    In many ways, the 2009 class—and specifically, the arrival of Taylor Martinez—will be the defining moment of the Pelini era in Lincoln. 2014 will be the first year truly in the post-Martinez era, and it remains to be seen what Pelini’s legacy will look like.

8. 2004

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    Dave Weaver/Associated Press

    Class size: 18

    Head coach: Bill Callahan

    Standout player: Ty Steinkuhler

    Other notable players: Joe Ganz, Cortney Grixby, Lydon Murtha, Terrence Nunn 

    Callahan’s first recruiting class brought some of the players who would define his tenure in Lincoln—and at least one player in Joe Ganz who would help set the tone for the tenure that was to follow Callahan.

7. 1998

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    DAVE WEAVER/Associated Press

    Class size: 21

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: DeJuan Groce

    Other notable players: Chris Kelsay, Jeremy Slechta, Keyuo Craver 

    Still basking in a post-championship glow, Nebraska’s 1998 recruiting class still boasted a number of impressive players. An absence of difference-makers on offense, though, began to appear.

6. 2010

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Class size: 21

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Lavonte David

    Other notable players: Kenny Bell, Corey Cooper, Quincy Enunwa, Ciante Evans 

    David may have been one of the best junior college signings in recent Nebraska history and certainly made an immediate impact on NU upon his arrival. There is still a little left to be written in the story of the 2010 class, of course, which may affect its ultimate ranking.

5. 2008

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Class size: 28

    Head coach: Bo Pelini

    Standout player: Alfonzo Dennard

    Other notable players: Baker Steinkuhler, Kyler Reed, P.J. Smith 

    In his first recruiting class, Pelini was blessed with having a gigantic number available to take. He managed to land a difference-maker on both sides of the ball in year one.

4. 2002

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    G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images

    Class size: 18

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: Adam Carriker

    Other notable players: Matt Herian, Jay Moore, Fabian Washington 

    The inclusion of Carriker in any recruiting class will shoot that class up the charts, even though there was other good talent contained therein. Again, though, the lack of offensive difference-makers demonstrates an ongoing issue with Solich’s recruiting classes.

3. 2007

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Class size: 28

    Head coach: Bill Callahan

    Standout player: Prince Amukamara

    Other notable players: Roy Helu, Jared Crick, Eric Hagg, Niles Paul 

    Callahan’s final recruiting class was certainly one of his most memorable, landing NFL talent on both sides of the ball. Without the turmoil surrounding athletic director Steve Pederson, coupled with the meltdown on the field during the season, a case could have been made for Callahan’s retention given the talent he brought in.

2. 2005

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Class size: 32

    Head coach: Bill Callahan

    Standout player: Ndamukong Suh

    Other notable players: Matt Slauson, Marlon Lucky, Barry Turner, Phillip Dillard 

    The most dominant defensive player in a generation for Nebraska, coupled with a raft of outstanding talent, makes the 2005 class Callahan’s best in his tenure. Of course, Suh’s inability to blossom until Pelini’s arrival highlights Callahan’s deficiencies as well as his prowess as a recruiter.

1. 2001

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Class size: 19

    Head coach: Frank Solich

    Standout player: Daniel Bullocks

    Other notable players: Josh Bullocks, Richie Incognito, Barrett Ruud, Le Kevin Smith, Cory Ross 

    Solich’s other recruiting classes may have struggled, but he crushed it in 2001, even with a smaller class. When you consider the talent he brought in on both sides of the ball, it makes you stop to think what might have been had Solich brought in more classes at least close to 2001’s.

     

    If you'd like to contact Patrick, send an email to patrickrunge@gmail.com.

    Or, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.

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