And, just like that, welcome to #Floribraska.
But when it comes to gifted Floridians joining Nebraska coach Scott Frost’s Big Red revolution, he sure as hell won’t be the last.
“I think it makes sense,” Brandon Huffman, national director of college recruiting at Scout.com, told Land of 10. “[Frost] has been in the central part of the state. I think one advantage of being there [in Orlando], as opposed to being in south Florida or being up in Tallahassee, when you’re in the central part of the state, he’s been able to go up north or down south. He’s going to have a lot of the state, geographically, where he can draw from.
“Some of the best players Nebraska has had were from Florida. Obviously, they’ve had great players come from California, too, but that was a different time and a different era.”
It’s a different era now, too. Different vibe. Different enthusiasm. Different momentum. When a 4-star in the Sunshine State gets a sales pitch from the guy coaching Florida’s only unbeaten FBS program — or rather used to be coaching, this whole UCF/Peach Bowl thing being something of a gray area — brother, he listens.
“I still think Nebraska can do [well in] Florida and recruit successfully,” Huffman continued. “It’s like any coach who coaches at one of the directional schools in Texas or California — you’re going to recruit that state. The directional schools, the second-tier schools, have to focus on in-state kids. So what I think that enabled Frost to do [at Central Florida] is build relationships with a lot of in-state programs, if they sell a Power 5 recruit [on the idea] that going to Nebraska is a nice opportunity for them.”
When Cornhuskers athletic director Bill Moos shut the door on the 818 area code, he opened a window to the 561. And the 407. The 305. The 813.
And the more pipelines flowing into Lancaster County at the moment, the better, given that …
“I think, pretty much, their West Coast recruiting for this cycle is essentially going to dry up more than it already has,” Huffman said. “I don’t think we’re going to see the Calibraska influence at all. Or at least, the scale that it was under [former coach Mike] Riley.”
Regime changes — especially ones that feel as wholesale as this one — aren’t going to happen without roster tremors. A chunk of the 2018 class had been breaking apart, piece by piece, as the Huskers limped to a 4-8 finish. Chase Williams, a 4-star prep cornerback, was the latest Californian to pull up stakes, de-commiting late last month. #Calibraska poster boy Keyshawn Johnson Jr. is still back home, still in a holding pattern. Freshman quarterback Tristan Gebbia may well be, too.
‘I think Tyjon’s going to find a big role in that offense, because Scott Frost likes to use guys like that.’
— Scout.com’s Brandon Huffman on Nebraska wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey and the new Cornhuskers scheme
Although it’s interesting that Gebbia happened to be hosting one of the Golden State’s more promising high school arms, quarterback Adrian Martinez, a dual-threat signal caller from Fresno, this past weekend. Martinez has verbally committed to Tennessee, but given the 3-ring circus in Knoxville over the last two weeks, understandably hasn’t boxed himself in to a final destination.
“I think another problem with the Calibraska thing is they did swing a little bit too hard for the fences with going after so many [hyped] guys from the West Coast,” Huffman said. “Instead of the right guys from the West Coast.”
That said, Huffman thinks both Gebbia and freshman wideout Tyjon Lindsey, who made 12 catches this fall, are the right guys for what the Big Red offense is probably going to look like moving forward, given what Frost ran at UCF and as the offensive coordinator at Oregon. Speed works anywhere — and even Gebbia has workable wheels in a zone-read spread-option scheme, having run for 293 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Calabasas (Calif.) High, while rushing for 146 yards and five scores as a junior.
“I think Tyjon’s going to find a big role in that offense, because Scott Frost likes to use guys like that,” Huffman said. “Gebbia remains to be seen. Patrick O’Brien remains to be seen. That offense doesn’t have to do as much with Calibraska as much as it is how they’re going to fit in with where the new Nebraska is going to turn.
“With Keyshawn Jr., [former wide receiver coach] Keith Williams was one of the biggest draws for him; without Keith, I don’t know if he’s coming back. That becomes that much more of an obstacle to sell with.”
Not in the 850, though.
Or the 772.
Or the 904.
Like what you saw in Orlando over the last two years? Wait ‘til they cut that beast loose in Lincoln.
Congratulations to Nebraska and Scott Frost for making an excellent hire. One thing he will be able to do is recruit Texas and Florida.
— JGB (@JoeGBarnelloIII) December 2, 2017
“Scott Frost did spend some time on the West Coast, obviously. But I see that being from the middle of the Sunshine State, he’ll drop into Florida now,” Huffman said. “Because his name carries more weight in Florida than it does on the West Coast.”
It’s a movement. Only this time, hopefully, one that’s pulling in the right direction.