At the end of each month, Land of 10 will take a look at how the Cornhuskers performed according to our recruiting to-do lists published at the beginning of the month. This evaluation focuses on the three priority concerns for the program’s recruiting efforts during the last four weeks. Here’s how the Huskers did in December.
It was quite the month for Nebraska football and Nebraska recruiting in general. Given a modest seven-prospect foundation of commits, Scott Frost and his staff took over on Dec. 2. In three weeks, they managed to increase the total number of commitments to 14 and sign 12 of them during the early signing period.
With December coming to a close, let’s review what they’ve accomplished in the last few weeks. For reference, here’s December’s to-do list.
1. New coaching staff must hit road quickly
Frost and his band of assistants certainly did this. In fact, just hours after he was formally introduced as Nebraska’s coach, Frost and assistant Barrett Ruud were in 3-star defensive tackle Bryson Williams’ living room. Although the Huskers couldn’t land Williams — it was too late in the process and he stuck with Wisconsin — the gesture set the tone for what was to come the remainder of the month.
Running backs coach Ryan Held was the MVP of the coaching staff during the hectic period. Frost’s entire staff at UCF followed him to Nebraska, which provided a nice sense of continuity that helped on the recruiting trail. But Held really racked up those frequent-flier miles, hitting Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arizona and California while also being at Nebraska for two official visit weekends. To boot, the whole staff is helping UCF prepare for its Peach Bowl matchup against Auburn on Jan. 1.
The staff was on the road early and often leading up to the early signing period. Being visible with commits Tate Wildeman and Cameron Jurgens helped the Huskers keep both 4-star prospects in their camp and allowed them to woo 4-star quarterback Adrian Martinez to Nebraska.
They clearly had a recruiting plan and executed it, which is why December was a boon for Nebraska.
2. Keep commits on board, grow class
Most of the attrition in the 2018 recruiting class had been completed by the time Frost arrived. The Huskers suffered only two de-commitments after the coaching change. But the bad news here is that those de-commitments came from a pair of 4-star wide receivers: Joshua Moore and Cameron Brown.
To be fair, both commits were on their way out when Mike Riley and his staff — namely receivers coach Keith Williams — were not retained. It’s not like the new staff just ignored them; they would have loved to keep Brown and Moore in the class, but they knew it would be a longshot and likely concentrated their recruiting efforts elsewhere.
So while the new staff took a hit there, they succeeded in growing the class, doubling the number of commitments. That puts the Huskers in a favorable position as they ramp up recruiting activities in January in preparation for National Signing Day in February. Instead of needing to sign about 11-13 prospects after the early signing period, they will look to add signatures from seven or eight recruits. That’s a much more manageable number, thanks to the work they put in during December.
3. Convince commits to sign during early signing period
Of the 14 commits, Nebraska signed 12 over the course of the three-day early signing period. Heading into that week, however, it seemed like the Huskers would sign only five or six prospects. But longtime commits such as Wildeman and Jurgens saw no reason to prolong their recruitments after meeting the new coaching staff. The same was true with linebacker David Alston.
The only two commits who didn’t sign were Masry Mapieu and C.J. Smith. Mapieu was advised not to sign because the Huskers want to make sure he’s academically cleared when he signs his letter of intent, and Smith simply wanted to sign with his classmates in February. All in all, Nebraska was tremendously successful in accomplishing this goal.