Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his staff ended their first big recruiting weekend for the Huskers with a bang. While Nebraska lost the commitment of 4-star wide receiver Joshua Moore, the Huskers quickly made up for it with two commitments on Sunday and another on Monday — 4-star safety C.J. Smith,3-star WR Justin McGriff and 3-star wide receiver Jaron Woodyard.
Of interest between the three commits, Woodyard becomes Nebraska’s first junior college commit since the Class of 2014.
Nebraska landed their first JUCO recruit today since the class of 2014, which was Bo Pelini's last full recruiting class at Nebraska. Under Mike Riley the #Huskers didn't sign a JUCO player in 2015, 2016 or 2017.
— Sean Callahan (@Sean_Callahan) December 11, 2017
In his three years at the helm at Nebraska, former coach Mike Riley never took a scholarship junior college player. In a matter of a week and a half with the Huskers, Frost took his first.
Woodyard is an exciting prospect for the Huskers, too. His journey to Nebraska has been unconventional, but he’s exactly what Frost and his staff need.
Jaron Woodyard is one of those cool stories in recruiting. One offer out of HS, got spotted at an all-star game, went to AWCC and now a #Huskers commit.
Oh, and he's going to be top 3 fastest on the team.
— Mike Schaefer (@mikejschaefer) December 11, 2017
Woodyard’s speed is going to be key for Frost and his offense. When Frost left Oregon for UCF, he made the need for speed with the Knights very clear.
“Fans better buckle their seat belt because we’re gonna punch the accelerator and go fast around here, and sooner or later, that’s gonna lead to a lot of success,” Frost said at the time.
That hasn’t changed now that Frost is at Nebraska. He needs speed to run his offense, and Woodyard provides just that.
New #Huskers commit Jaron Woodyard is fast…
In high school he ran a 10.68 in the 100M and a 21.50 in the 200M.
— Nate Clouse (@NateClouse) December 11, 2017
While an exciting start, Woodyard won’t be the only junior college player Frost and his staff seek out. In their first week with Nebraska, the Huskers new staff offered at least 10 junior college athletes from seven different programs. From those offers, two visited this past weekend. That included Woodyard and Arizona Western running back Greg Bell.
Identifying areas of need on the roster has likely led to some of these offers. A few areas of interest immediately for Nebraska: offensive tackle, where they have already offered three athletes — Arizona Western’s Jahmir Johnson, Iowa Western’s Noah Banks and Navarro College’s Levon Livingston; quarterback, where they looked at a dual-threat option in Garden City’s Terry Wilson but did not offer — he committed to Kentucky; and cornerback (ASA College’s Jeremy Webb). Seeing where the staff took immediate interest, it’s easy to imagine more offers will go out in key areas as positions continue to be evaluated.
This staff has also shown it is more than familiar with recruiting at the junior college ranks. For example, running backs coach Ryan Held coached at junior colleges for five years and at Division II schools for seven years. Outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also coached at community colleges early in their coaching careers.
Ryan Held (BV North alum) will be great addition for Nebraska staff. Former walk-on there, was a HC at Highland CC, OC at Butler CC, knows Kansas very well, juco very well, and was w/ Frost at UCF. Good news that our state will be recruited in Nebraska!
— Sports in Kansas (@sportsinkansas) December 4, 2017
That familiarity has clearly helped this staff know how to find the right fits from the junior college ranks. Frost and his staff had a pretty decent focus on junior college athletes while at UCF. That included four JUCO players in 2016 and two in 2017.
Now that Frost and his staff are at Nebraska, it appears that knowledge and comfortability with junior college recruiting is going to pay off. While Riley and his staff may not have been as interested, that’s clearly changed with the new regime.
ATH Jaron Woodyard is Nebraska's first JUCO commitment since 2014. I know building a roster completely around JUCOs isn't feasible, but for Riley's staff to just ignore them was not smart.
— Dan Hoppen (@danhoppen) December 11, 2017
The impact could be great, too. There’s still plenty of work to be done on the recruiting trail, but Woodyard’s commitment shows that this staff is interested in finding talented players who can play immediately.
And with a tough 2018 schedule ahead, that’s a step in the right direction for Nebraska.