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So Twitter was fun Wednesday morning, huh?
Thanks to the commitment of 2018 kicker Barret Pickering, the No. 2-ranked kicker in his class according to Kohl’s Kicking Camps, Twitter and talk radio were set ablaze with hot takes on Nebraska’s use of football scholarships.
The main argument: If Nebraska is going to have a small recruiting class in 2018, and with all of its troubles on the offensive line and its lack of a top QB in the class, why would Nebraska waste a scholarship on a kicker?
That line of thinking isn’t entirely baseless. Nebraska’s troubles on the O-line will be the dominant narrative until fall camp — and probably throughout fall camp. Plus, Nebraska doesn’t have a quarterback in the 2018 class, although the coaches have said they desperately want one.
But answering the question as to why Nebraska has a scholarship kicker in the class is pretty simple: Not having one is risky, and not having a scholarship kicker on the roster would be very unusual.
Nebraska will have just one placekicker on the 2018 roster — Omaha native and walk-on Cole Frahm. Why not have him handle the kicking duties?
Nebraska has had, on average, 3.7 kickers on its roster since the 2000 season. At least one always has been on scholarship.
There have been six seasons since 2000 in which Nebraska had five kickers on the team. As recently as 2014, Nebraska had two kickers on scholarship (Drew Brown, Mauro Bondi). To have one kicker on the roster — and not even on scholarship — would be borderline irresponsible. And to have that one kicker be a walk-on just isn’t smart or sustainable.
And though the thought of a Nebraska native winning the starting kicker position as a walk-on is a nice shot of nostalgia, thanks to Alex Henery and Brett Maher doing just that into the 2010s, those two instances were unique.
Nebraska has had a walk-on starting kicker only three times in the past 18 seasons. After two seasons, Henery was given a scholarship. Maher was rewarded after one season.
|2014||Drew Brown/Mauro Bondi||x|
Yes, Henery and Maher arrived as walk-ons, but they were put on scholarship after they won the starting position. To bank on Frahm becoming the next Henery or Maher is not a logical way to approach the kicking position, particularly if he’s the only one on the team in 2018.
Because if he doesn’t pan out, what then?
Nebraska’s 2018 class is all about needs. The Huskers need cornerbacks, so they’re getting cornerbacks. They needed a center, so they got a center in Will Farniok. They need a QB, so they’re being deliberate in their search.
To not get a kicker in the 2018 class would’ve been short-sighted and would’ve broken the pattern of what college football teams have done. Pickering wasn’t even the first kicker Nebraska offered; the Huskers were gunning for Evan McPherson, the No. 1 kicker in the class. He committed to Mississippi State. This was a long time coming, and is by no means a surprise.
Nebraska joins Texas A&M, Georgia, Iowa State, North Carolina State and BYU as programs that have had kickers commit in the 2018 class. Next season, Ohio State might have two scholarship kickers, and the Buckeyes are stingy with scholarships.
Pickering is a 5-star recruit who will help Nebraska’s transition from Drew Brown, who will be a senior this season. There shouldn’t be much to complain about.