Scott Frost has said it before, but it’s well worth revisiting on National Signing Day.
The Nebraska coach, who welcomed 23 new scholarship players and eight walk-ons Wednesday, doesn’t particularly care about the size of his offensive skill players position by position.
“I just want five skill players on the field all the time that are dangerous," Frost told reporters. "And with the way our offense is able to distribute it, once we get that way, we’re going to be tough to stop."
For all the production NU found offensively in 2018 between the emergence of freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, the receiving duo of Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman and the backfield tandem of Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington, Nebraska didn't consistently hit Frost's benchmark in Year 1.
Now, with Ozigbo and Morgan each leaving the program after 1,000-yard finales, there are question marks aplenty at the skill positions.
Nebraska never found a consistent third receiver and now must find at least two regulars behind Spielman. It started the year wanting to rotate three backs and now returns only Washington as a productive option.
One class of recruits can’t immediately fill every need, of course, but this one sure looks like it’s got the chance to help sooner rather than later.
The addition of running backs Rahmir Johnson (Oradell, New Jersey) and Ronald Thompkins (Loganville, Georgia), receivers Jamie Nance (Blanchard, Oklahoma) and Darien Chase (Vancouver, Washington), and do-it-all threat Wandale Robinson (Frankfort, Kentucky) constitutes a major infusion of talent to an offense that Frost thinks can be among the nation’s best in 2019.
Nance (6-foot, 160 pounds), “had a great year down in Oklahoma,” Frost said. “He can really run. I mean, he can go. I’m anxious to see what he can run a 40-yard dash time in when he gets here, because his 100 time is really good.”
Frost admitted the Huskers got in on Chase (6-1, 185) late — they first offered in mid-October — but hit it off quickly.
Robinson (5-10, 180) is one of the highest-rated recruits in the class and put up mind-boggling numbers at Western Hills High in Kentucky.
“I really like him as a young man and that’s not even to speak of the things he can do on the football field, which I can’t wait to get my hands on that and start working with him,” Frost said. "We’ve got a new toy for our offense.”
Johnson (5-10, 175) and Thompkins (5-11, 195) were both productive, explosive backs at powerhouse high schools, though Thompkins has already had reconstructive surgery on both of his knees. The latest came after he suffered an injury in Grayson's season opener Aug. 25.
Still, running backs coach Ryan Held’s eyes lit up at Thompkins' mention on Wednesday afternoon.
“Oh, I’m telling you: He’s got a great frame,” Held said. “He’s such a great kid and obviously, they have a great program. Obviously, he’s been injury bitten, so to speak, but he’s as talented as any running back in the country, I can tell you that much. We’re very fortunate to get him.”
Said Frost, “If you watch his highlights from this year before he got hurt, I think he’s got the chance to be special. I think he’s doing well in his rehab process and we’ll see how healthy he is when he gets here, but I know I expect great things from Ronald.”
Other schools also recruited Johnson hard out of Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, too, but he never took a visit.
“He stuck with us and he’s very talented,” Held said. "Great kid, smart, he’s a track guy and he’ll run track in the spring. It’s all about fit. For us, he really fits what we’re going for. He’s got a frame that he can put some good weight on still.”
The overhaul might not be done just yet, either. Frost mentioned the staff is hopeful for a couple more additions before the signing period ends Friday. One of those is almost certainly junior college running back Dedrick Mills (Garden City C.C.), who’s been verbally committed since the summer. Frost also said the Huskers would like to add another young receiver. It just so happens that they recently offered four-star prospect Charles Njoku (Wayne, New Jersey).
One thing is certain: NU isn’t afraid to put young players on the field if they prove they can make big plays. Robinson, Nance, McCaffrey and Hickman will all be on campus in January, meaning they’ll be part of winter conditioning and spring ball.
“(At UCF) they were second to last in the country in offense when we got there and after two years we were the No. 1 scoring offense in the United States,” Frost said. “This one is headed in the same direction, particularly with Adrian at the controls. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the country and if I was a skill player on offense, I’d want to come play with a guy like that.”