Each month, Land of 10 will take a look at the Cornhuskers’ recruiting to-do list for the upcoming month. This outlook focuses on three priorities for the program in the weeks ahead. We now move on to February.
February is here, meaning National Signing Day is right around the corner. Here’s a short to-do list of what Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his staff should try to accomplish as they wrap up the 2018 class and begin recruiting, in earnest, the future classes.
1. Firm up the trenches, especially offensive line
This was one of the goals Nebraska tried to accomplish in January. However, their top offensive line target, Jarrett Bell, has slowed down his recruitment.
That has forced Nebraska to wait on filling out the unit. But that will change. This week, two tackle targets — Willie Canty and Jalan Robinson — will take visits to the school. Canty’s will be an official visit and Robinson’s trip will be unofficial. Another name to keep an eye on is 3-star tackle Bobby Lawrence, who is currently a grayshirt commit to Iowa State. If Nebraska can host him for a visit, the Huskers have a chance to pick up some momentum with him.
The question becomes how many offensive linemen will ultimately be part of the class. Nebraska will definitely take one. But if Bell commits, Nebraska might want to add a tackle. Depending on how numbers shake out at other spots, that may prove to be tricky. The Huskers may have to finally move on from Bell, which would be a tough call. They are high on him, but since he’s slated to play an interior line position and with the need being on the outside, it may be a call Frost and offensive line coach Greg Austin are forced to make with time dwindling.
Nebraska has no more true defensive ends on its board, with the addition of Casey Rogers filling space there. But there is still one intriguing prospect, 3-star defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia. Nebraska is bringing him in for an official visit this weekend. He could potentially serve as insurance for the academically questionable Masry Mapieu, who’s been committed to Nebraska for more than a year.
2. Limit surprises on National Signing Day
Several of Nebraska’s top targets are set to announce on Wednesday, Feb. 7, which is National Signing Day. Of course, things may be out of Nebraska’s control, but the staff needs to spend the next two days — or even the weekend, if necessary — getting their ducks in order on the recruiting trail.
Nebraska needs to maintain the momentum with 4-star outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste, who has been trending toward Nebraska. The Huskers have to put on a show for 4-star running back Maurice Washington during his official visit this weekend and ultimately convince him to commit. Four-star cornerback Taiyon Palmer, who is trending toward N.C. State, could use a little extra attention in a last-ditch effort.
It also means locking up 3-star targets Matthew Tago (quarterback), who is committing Saturday, and athlete Cam Taylor (cornerback). Both had solid official visits last weekend and can be useful additions to the class.
The Huskers saw a handful of recruits they thought they could flip or convince to sign later wind up signing with different programs during the early signing period ((Marcus Riley (Louisville), Jeshaun Jones (Maryland), Messiah Swinson (Missouri), Joshua Fleeks (Baylor) and Dallas Craddieth (Iowa), to name a few)). They would very much like to avoid having that happen again.
3. Continue rollout of offers for future classes
Nebraska will have its recruiting class completely wrapped up not even a week into the month. That means turning its attention to the 2019 class will be paramount. As you may have seen on Twitter, reams of prospects in the 2019 and 2020 classes have reported receiving offers from Nebraska. As of late Wednesday, the Huskers have extended close to 150 offers in the 2019 class.
The NCAA-mandated dead period begins Monday, so Nebraska won’t be able to form relationships with the recruits in person. But the Huskers can continue identifying and offering future prospects. They should certainly take advantage of that.
Frost and his staff clearly like to offer many, many prospects. This will be especially true during the first couple of years on the job. We saw it in the 2018 class and seeing it in the 2019 class, with the goal of bringing in players that fit their schemes and style of play.