Nebraska finished the 2018 recruiting class on a strong note thanks to the efforts of Scott Frost and his staff, but expect the Corhuskers to take the next step with a successful 2019 class. Land of 10’s Chris Bumbaca will answer a recruiting question of the day every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Ask him a question on Twitter (@BOOMbaca or @Landof10Huskers) or on Facebook. Find our previous questions and answers here.
@BOOMbaca having talk to recruits on a daily basis what are the three most important things to these kids. 1) Is it coach with NFL connections? 2) assistant coaches within NFL connections . 3) a program that is currently winning games or just playing football
— Jeff Shannon (@LCSjeff) April 12, 2018
If Jeff included a fourth option here that all of the above, that would technically be the correct answer. But I’m not under the impression that any of the three aspects of recruiting is the most prolific among prospects.
Recruiting comes down to relationships. Most of the time, those relationships are between the coaches and a player. In some cases, a prospect’s relationship with a school could exist outside of the coaches — close to home, grew up a fan, parent is an alumnus, etc. — but usually, the relationship between the coaches and a recruit is the engine that drives each recruitment.
From conversations I’ve had with high school coaches, to prospects (ranging from 5-star players to unranked recruits), to parents, to other media members, Scott Frost and his staff are some of the most genuine people in the sport. Their relationship building is elite. When you can connect with a recruit at that level, it does not matter how many NFL personnel people you have in your cellphone. How many years you spent in the NFL becomes irrelevant.
Winning games is important, too. But if the losses have piled up in recent years, some staffs can sell being part of a turnaround to a prospect. Nebraska’s coaches currently have the advantage of pitching a rebuild. But most of all, it comes down to relationships.
The Huskers put together the 2018 recruiting class by leveling with prospects and being forthright. But they also only had two or three weeks before the early signing period and National Signing Day, respectively, to sign half of their class in each sequence. The fact they still brought in 24 recruits fired up to head to Lincoln speaks volumes to how they made each signee, plus the other prospects that strongly considered Nebraska but ultimately elected to sign elsewhere, feel.
Take, for example, the recruitment of 4-star safety Cam’ron Jones. The Mansfield, Texas, native did not even have Nebraska on his radar until Huskers running backs coach Ryan Held paid him a visit one day at his school in December.
Held captivated Jones during that first meeting. Jones admitted after he committed to Nebraska he probably “would have slipped” to Ole Miss if Held was not his primary recruiter to Nebraska. It’s another example to how powerful relationships are in recruiting.
Pipelines to the pros are a plus. Winning games is important, but it does not necessarily translate to recruiting.
Relationships are what sets programs apart on the recruiting trail. And right now, not too many schools are building them more effectively than Nebraska.
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