The Nebraska football team arrived back in Lincoln at about 6 p.m. Friday, fresh off a walk-off, season-ending loss at Iowa earlier in the afternoon.
By Sunday afternoon, the Husker coaches will be gone again, headlong into a recruiting blitz.
The staff is fanning out around the country, visiting players who are already verbally committed to the program, players they’d like to add to the program in the coming weeks and players they’re just starting to get to know.
“It’s par for the course,” offensive line coach Greg Austin said Tuesday, noting then that his bag was already packed and that he figured he would be in somewhere between 10 and 15 different states during his opening salvo. “In order for you to create a sustained, winning program, you’ve got to get guys in here, get the recruits that you need and continue to build and work the relationships, so that’s the protocol. That’s what we have to do.”
The Huskers got a couple of coaches out during the season, but filling their original open date with FCS Bethune-Cookman as a makeup date limited them, too. Now, though, NU will be out in force, almost constantly, until the early signing date.
"Gone for two straight weeks,” running backs coach Ryan Held said. “I’ve got to find a place where I can do my laundry. It’s going to be a whirlwind, but I love it. I’ll be driving a lot. I’ll listen to my ’80s music and my country music and make some recruiting calls and get lost in the world. I love it, it’s great."
This will be a multifaceted operation.
The first order of business, of course, is the 2019 class. The Huskers currently have 21 verbal commitments and are planning on taking up to 30 when it’s all said and done. Conventional wisdom suggests that NU will want a few spots still open after the Dec. 19 signing date to maintain flexibility in January ahead of the second signing date in early February. That’s also probably when the graduate transfer market will heat up.
There are players — Arizona standouts such as defensive end Ty Robinson and defensive back Noa Pola-Gates, for example — that NU would gladly take any time. There are others, including some on a long list of list of junior college players, where space might be a factor even with the big number the Huskers will take.
For instance, NU already has four offensive linemen in the class.
“We’re always looking for linemen, but we are coming close to our numbers right now (for 2019),” Austin said. “… The recruits are well aware of the amount of guys we’re taking and where they are in relation to the class.”
The Huskers will also be doing heavy lifting in terms of 2020 and even 2021 prospects. Last year when Frost was hired, the staff scrambled to build a class for 2018 and put almost all of its attention into that group. Now, they’ll be working ahead much more.
“We’ll continue to get farther and farther ahead in our recruiting as we get through each one of these classes and be able to look at even younger kids and get a jump-start on things,” Frost said Monday. “Really like where we are right now. We need to add some more talent to this team and make sure we’re putting the good talent that we have right now in the best possible position to win.”
This time of year always brings surprises, and there will likely be some along the way. NU could make another run at Kentucky commit Wandale Robinson — Rivals reported that Frost will visit him early in the week — or could lose a player from its class.
One thing is for sure: The Nebraska coaching staff is probably coming to a school near you in the next couple of weeks.
Isn’t it hard to keep track?
“Heck, no. I don’t ever forget where I am,” Austin said. “I do have trouble from time to time with the time changes.”
|Matthew Anderson||OT||6-7||250||Leesville, La.||***|
|Brant Banks||DL||6-8||285||Houston (Westbury Christian)||***|
|Bryce Benhart||OT||6-9||305||Lakeville, Minn. (North)||****|
|Desmond Bland||OL||6-4||300||Flossmoor, Ill. (Arizona Western C.C.)||****|
|Darien Chase||WR||6-1||175||Vancouver, Wash. (Union)||****|
|Myles Farmer||DB||6-3||180||Atlanta (Westlake)||***|
|Jimmy Fritzsche||OL||6-7||250||Greenville, S.C.||***|
|Jamin Graham||OLB||6-6||240||Attalla, Ala. (Etowah)||***|
|Jackson Hannah||ILB||6-3||220||Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell)||****|
|Nick Henrich||ILB||6-4||210||Omaha (Burke)||****|
|Chris Hickman||TE||6-5||220||Omaha (Burke)||***|
|Rahmir Johnson||RB||5-10||170||Oradell, N.J. (Bergen Catholic)||****|
|Michael Lynn||OT||6-7||300||Englewood, Colo. (Cherry Creek)||***|
|Luke McCaffrey||QB||6-3||185||Littleton, Colo. (Valor Christian)||***|
|Dedrick Mills||RB||5-10||227||Waycross, Ga. (Garden City C.C.)||***|
|Jamie Nance||WR||6-0||170||Blanchard, Okla.||***|
|Mosai Newsom||DE||6-5||260||Waverly, Iowa (Waverly-Shell Rock)||***|
|Quinton Newsome||DB||6-2||180||Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett)||***|
|Ethan Piper||DL||6-4||275||Norfolk (Catholic)||***|
|Ty Robinson||DE||6-6||285||Gilbert, Ariz. (Higley)||****|
|Wandale Robinson||RB||5-9||180||Frankfort, Ky. (Western Hills)||****|
|Ronald Thompkins||RB||6-0||203||Loganville, Ga. (Grayson)||***|
|Javin Wright||DB||6-3||195||Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton)||***|