Nebraska’s crop of in-state talent in the 2019 recruiting class is unique by the state’s standards, giving Huskers coach Scott Frost and his football team the opportunity to capitalize on the quality of prospects from within the state’s borders.
Thus far, Nebraska has been successful in that venture. The Huskers hold three commitments in the 2019 class, and all three are from the state: 3-star athletes Garrett Snodgrass (York) and Garrett Nelson (Scottsbluff), along with 3-star defensive tackle Ethan Piper (Norfolk Catholic).
Nelson is the third-ranked player in the state, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Snodgrass and Piper are fourth and fifth, respectively. A pair of 4-star Omaha Burke teammates, inside linebacker Nick Henrich and tight end Chris Hickman, are the top two recruits from Nebraska this cycle, with Hickman currently commanding the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Both also hold Nebraska offers.
For the first time since 2008, the state’s top 5 prospects have offers from Nebraska. The 2008 cycle, which was Bo Pelini’s transition class, featured nine offers to Nebraska natives. The Huskers signed five. For Frost and his staff to match that in-state success in 2019, they will have to do more with less, since it’s unlikely they will offer nine Nebraska prospects. In fact, the Huskers could be done offering in-state players, making the recruitments of Henrich and Hickman all the more imperative.
Landing Henrich and Hickman will be a challenge. Hickman has 10 offers, while Henrich holds 17. Other regional programs, such as Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin, pose the biggest challenges to their commitments. However, Henrich also holds offers from national programs such as Florida, Penn State, Notre Dame and Oregon.
The most in-state prospects Nebraska has signed since 2008 is four, doing it twice: 2010 and 2011. In the 2018 recruiting class, Nebraska signed just one Nebraska native in 4-star tight end Cameron Jurgens. He was among the three in-state recruits offered by the Huskers, with 3-star defensive tackles Bryson Williams (Wisconsin) and Masry Mapieu (Louisiana-Lafayette) going elsewhere.
The 2017 cycle also provided a successful in-state harvest, as Nebraska signed the top 3 prospects after offering the top 4. The same cannot be said of the 2016 class, when Nebraska missed on the top two prospects, a pair of talented tight ends in Noah Fant (Iowa) and Jared Bubak (Arizona State).
In 2015, Nebraska offered and signed the top two in-state prospects, Michael Decker and DaiShon Neal.
The Huskers offered the state’s top four prospects in 2014. Luke Gifford (3), Mick Stoltenberg (4) and Jerald Foster (1) all signed with Nebraska, while Harrison Phillips (2) signed with Stanford.
The 2009, 2012 and 2013 classes featured only five in-state offers and four signees combined. The Huskers missed out on the top player in the state in 2009 and 2012 before signing Josh Banderas in 2013.
It’s already a unique cycle for Nebraska recruits, given the five offers, especially since it’s a rarity that the Huskers extend five offers for in-state prospects. The gesture speaks to the quality of local talent in the class. And so far, Nebraska has succeeded in using it to its advantage.
More work could, and should, be done to fully maximize the potential of bringing this crop of players to the Huskers.
For Frost to truly convert this opportunity and keep his vow of keeping in-state players close to home, he’ll have to land the Burke duo of Hickman and Henrich. Only then will it truly be a historic cycle for Nebraska and in-state recruiting.