Stay updated with Nebraska Cornhuskers football recruiting in the latest edition of The Harvest, which posts at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Be sure to check out previous editions of The Harvest here.
Scott Frost and staff connected with prospects on official visits
The Nebraska recruiting clinic conducted by Scott Frost and his band of assistants over the course of eight weeks was impressive, to say the least. Nebraska brought in the No. 22 recruiting class in the country, according to the 247Sports composite.
What cannot be understated is the importance of the official visits in the short time the Huskers had to recruit the Class of 2018. It was a hectic time for the staff, and in between familiarizing themselves with their new place of employment, the coaches needed to identify targets to recruit to Nebraska. When the staff was hired, the Huskers held only seven commitments and the early signing period was less than three weeks away.
“It was kind of breakneck in the first couple of weeks,” Frost said during his news conference on Signing Day. “Those weeks in December where we were trying to get kids in, we had to be real careful. One of the challenges that we had is, you get a limited number of official visits, and the last staff that was here used half of them, a little more than half of them, so we had to bat a really high percentage to fill our class.”
Nebraska signed 10 of 14 prospects brought in for official visits in the two weeks leading up to the early signing period. Overall, the current staff saw 19 of 31 official visitors sign with the Huskers. (Wide receiver Mike Williams committed during his official visit.)
“We were real careful not to bring in kids where we thought it was just a visit,” Frost said. “We had to feel good about our chances of getting him before we brought him in. So I think we finished the class with two extra visits, just in case we need one down the road. But we did real well about the kids on campus and I think that says a lot about what Nebraska is, the facilities, the people and our coaching staff’s relationship with kids.
“I don’t know the math, but we got about five out of every seven kids that came in to visit, I would guess. We really needed to do that in order to fill the class because we were limited to the number of official visits.”
The official visit is a key part of any recruitment, and the weekends the staff put on for recruits clearly were memorable. Key 4-star prospects Adrian Martinez and Maurice Washington signed within days of leaving Lincoln. Some prospects, such as C.J. Smith, Deontai Williams and Jaron Woodyard, committed the night they left campus.
Most successful recruiting weekends in 2018 cycle
It should not come as a surprise, but the recruiting success of former coach Mike Riley’s staff was minimal. There are several circumstances to consider here, most notably the fact Riley was on the hot seat for most of last season. That not only discouraged prospects from taking visits, but also from committing.
Frost’s staff also identified a fresh set of targets, almost completely different than the prospects at the top of the previous staff’s board. Of the first 24 official visitors in this cycle, which occurred on weekends from Sept. 2 to Nov. 4, only one previously uncommitted player wound up signing with the Huskers — 3-star outside linebacker David Alston.
During that span, two commits — Will Farniok and Barret Pickering — also visited. On the weekend of Oct. 7, for the game against Wisconsin, Nebraska hosted several prospects, including four commits at the time — 4-star cornerbacks Chase Williams and Brendan Radley-Hiles, and 4-star wide receivers Cameron Brown and Joshua Moore. Obviously, none of those players wound up signing with Nebraska.
None of the seven official visitors from the weekend of Nov. 4 (Northwestern game) signed with Nebraska. It was the last weekend Riley’s staff would host prospects on campus.
The current staff got to work right away after transitioning to Nebraska during the first week of December. In the first weekend leading up to the early signing period, Nebraska hosted seven prospects. Five of them committed. The only ones to get away were Jeshaun Jones (Maryland) and Joshua Fleeks (Baylor).
The next weekend also was key in forming the crux of the class. Tate Wildeman reaffirmed his commitment after liking what he saw and signed that week. Will Honas, Deontai Williams, Cam’ron Jones and Katerian Legrone also took official visits and eventually signed with Nebraska. Once again, there were only two misses that weekend: Marcus Riley, who left committed to Nebraska before sticking with Louisville, and Messiah Swinson (Missouri).
That’s an extremely impressive success rate. But like Frost said, Nebraska had to be in solid standing with a prospect before the idea of a visit was even broached.
In the three weekends Nebraska hosted official visitors after the early singing period, the Huskers went 8 for 16 (counting Dominick Watt, who committed before his visit).
Frost and his staff deserve to be commended for putting in work with prospects beforehand, giving them a chance to seal the deal once recruits arrived in Lincoln. The strategy clearly worked, so we can expect to see it be the norm going forward, even with the staff operating with a full recruiting cycle.
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