As an assistant coach at one of the top lacrosse programs in the country, Lelan Rogers knows how recruiting spiels go. But Rogers was taken aback for a moment in January when Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos and other administrators took the floor for various presentations during his son Casey’s official visit.
“Being a coach, I know it affected me,” Rogers, who coaches at Syracuse, told Land of 10. “I know what I was looking for, and I know what Casey was looking for.”
Casey Rogers, a 3-star defensive end prospect, signed with Nebraska on Feb. 7.
Every school has various life-skills programs for athletes that assist in searching for internships, going abroad during the summer or just about anything else. Given the ubiquity of such tools, selling them can be difficult. But the way Nebraska presented everything set it apart.
“You could just feel the excitement,” Rogers said. “They were happy to be in front of you. Everyone was enthusiastic. The presentations had a lot, a lot of energy.”
Another aspect of the visit that Rogers complimented was access to the university’s top officials, and not just Moos. For example, the Rogers family ate breakfast the final morning of the visit with chancellor Ronnie Green. It all struck an original chord for someone who is familiar with the recruiting process.
“I don’t know if it was the same for every recruit that was there,” he said.
Well, not every recruit, but other Nebraska signees definitely have mentioned meetings with Moos that triggered similar emotions during their official visits.
Let’s make one thing clear. Athletic directors don’t just waltz into recruiting trips. It’s uncommon, to say the least. Rogers said he shook Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith’s hand in passing but did not have a conversation. Other than that, he never had met another athletic director on any of the family’s various recruiting trips, which have included Alabama, Boston College and West Virginia. The fact Moos dedicates time from his weekend to help sell Nebraska, a place he’s only been for about four months, illuminates his “lead by example” philosophy.
And whatever he is telling these recruits, it’s working. Andre Hunt, a 3-star wide receiver from Paraclete, Calif., said he knew he wanted to sign with Nebraska after speaking with Moos.
“He really fired me up,” Hunt told Land of 10. “I told my dad right after I talked to him. I was like, ‘I want to come here.’ Because if the AD is in [line] with the coaches and the whole football staff, we’re going to have success. That’s what I want. I want to win the championship wherever I go.”
Hunt’s point about success is interesting. Moos’ willingness to get his hands dirty in the recruiting process also signals he is going to do what it takes to help revitalize the football program, which is his department’s crown jewel. It also is becoming especially clear that football coach Scott Frost and his team will have a fighting chance at any resource they want, including Moos’ time.
Cam Taylor is another Nebraska signee who said he had a connection with Moos. But more important, Moos reassured Taylor’s mother about sending her son to school far from their native Montgomery, Ala. Taylor said the conversation among the three of them was what stood out to him the most about his official visit from Jan. 26-28.
“The way he explained everything, as far as he’s going to take care of us and stuff like that, that really stood out, because he looked my mom in her eyes and said he would take care of me and I’ll get my degree from Nebraska if I come,” Taylor said.
Hunt said he’d never interacted with an athletic director on any of his other visits. It was the first time Taylor and his family had spoken with an athletic director.
“We really had a casual conversation,” Taylor said. “We were talking about anything. It wasn’t just about athletics or academics, even just how our day was going, what we were going to do when we got back [home].”
Rogers, Hunt and Taylor visited on different weekends, meaning it was a busy few weeks or so for everyone in the program, including Moos, but they will reap the results: the No. 22 recruiting class in 2018, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
At the end of the day with most prospects, it comes down to who wants you the most. And when a school’s athletic director is on the front lines of recruiting, there is a good chance you’ll feel desirable.
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Rogers said.