News on the Nebraska recruiting front has been relatively quiet since Saturday morning when Mike Riley and most of his coaching staff were fired.
For the Huskers this week, that’s certainly not the worst way to live.
There have been no decommitments from NU’s nine Class of 2018 verbal commitments. No blaring headlines. No big hits.
Of course, several expressed support and gratitude for Riley after his dismissal. And most, including Parker, Colorado, defensive end Tate Wildeman, do find the situation to be a bit difficult.
But there also seems to be hope.
“It’s definitely a weird feeling and you kind of just feel left in limbo, I guess,” Wildeman told the Journal Star on Monday night. “But you know, I believe that (Nebraska athletic director) Bill Moos is going to hire the best man for the job, whoever that may be. I’m just staying very optimistic through it.”
It’s not as though the Huskers’ 2018 class hasn’t suffered attrition.
That came before the end of the regular season and Riley’s dismissal when four-star defensive backs Brendan Radley-Hiles and Chase Williams decommitted on Oct. 31 and Nov. 24, respectively.
Still, Wildeman is optimistic. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, offensive lineman Will Farniok, younger brother of Huskers redshirt freshman guard Matt, and kicker Barret Pickering (Hoover, Alabama) seem like good bets to remain in the class.
York coach Glen Snodgrass told the Journal Star last week that he had talked with both 2018 verbal commit Masry Mapieu and Snodgrass' son, 2019 verbal commit Garrett, about the potential for turnover. Mapieu in particular has interest from other schools, but is thought ultimately to wind up in Lincoln.
Beatrice tight end Cameron Jurgens took an official visit to LSU over the weekend, but is still publicly committed to the Huskers.
Four-star Lee’s Summit, Missouri, athlete Mario Goodrich, four-star receivers Joshua Moore (Yoakum, Texas) and Cameron Brown (St. Louis), and three-star outside linebacker David Alston (Woodbury, Minnesota) are still committed, but there is more uncertainty with them.
From that group, only Alston’s primary recruiter (interim head coach Trent Bray) is still employed by NU at the moment. It will be up to the next head coach, widely expected to be Central Florida’s Scott Frost, whether to hire back any of the previous assistants.
Naturally, players forge relationships with the coaches who recruit them.
“Coach (Bob) Diaco, Coach (John) Parrella and Coach Riley, loved them all and we were very close,” Wildeman said. “(But) I feel like I definitely committed to the university. I’ve looked other places and I really can’t find anywhere else that compares. It’s just very special playing in front of 90,000 people every single game and them knowing your name. I don’t think there’s really a better feeling out there.”
Wildeman has continued to hear from Bray and NU associate director of player personnel Todd McShane and said he has also heard from Parrella since Saturday.
“They couldn’t say much, because they don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, either, but they also believe, like I said, that I committed to the university and not just the coaching staff,” Wildeman said. “I truly fell in love with Lincoln.”
Several NU verbal commits did not return messages left this week, but each is in a slightly different situation.
For instance, Moore and his brother, four-star 2018 safety and Texas A&M verbal pledge Jordan, are both committed to schools that have fired their coaches in the past week.
Could it help the next coach’s odds of keeping some of the out-of-state members on board if he retained either or both of wide receivers coach Keith Williams and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams? Quite possibly. And would Wildeman love for Parrella to be back? Of course. Time will tell on that front. Another development to keep in mind: Schools can hire a 10th full-time assistant beginning Jan. 8. Some will almost certainly use that spot creatively as it pertains to recruiting just one month before National Signing Day on Feb. 7.
There’s one last factor potentially already working in the Huskers’ favor. A certain Wood River native has a pretty good reputation, even for kids like Wildeman who have never met him or talked to him.
“I’ve never talked to Scott Frost, but I’ve heard he’s an incredible man,” Wildeman said. “UCF started kind of … one of their recruiting guys followed me on Twitter. I know he (and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander) run an aggressive, 3-4 defense, which would put me in a place to succeed, which would be nice. Whoever it is, I’m sure he’ll be the right man for the job.”