Glen Snodgrass has seen plenty of coaching turnover at Nebraska. Entering his eighth season coaching football at York High School, after spending 12 years at Overton, Snodgrass can recall every transition since Frank Solich took over for Tom Osborne in 1998.
Each time a new coach arrived in Lincoln, they promised to recruit the state. At first, their efforts seemed sincere. Bill Callahan visited Snodgrass’ program when he took over in Lincoln in 2004, but there wasn’t a second trip, Snodgrass said.
With native son Scott Frost now in charge, Snodgrass is hoping the Huskers will follow through on their promises to prioritize Nebraska kids.
“It seems that all of them, in their very first year, they reach out to the high schools a lot,” Snodgrass told Land of 10. “And then things kind of tailed off every year after that. I think every coach comes in with intentions to do that and make it known that they’re available to the high school coaches and that they’re important. That was no different than with this staff.”
Upon being hired, Frost and his staff extended olive branches around the state. But it feels different this time, Snodgrass said.
“The thing I get from this staff … they seem like just genuinely down-to-earth approachable, regular guys,” said Snodgrass, whose son Garrett is a 3-star athlete and a member of the Huskers’ 2019 recruiting class. “They don’t give you the feeling that ‘We’re better than you,’ which sometimes you get from those Division I coaches.”
There’s a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk, though.
“Everybody says that they’re available,” Snodgrass said. “But in the end, they aren’t always. So far, at least, these guys have truly been available to us if we have questions about recruiting or anything. It’s been real good so far.”
Omaha Burke coach Paul Limongi also senses something different compared to previous transitions. It helps that he coaches the state’s top two prospects — 4-star linebacker Nick Henrich and 4-star tight end Chris Hickman.
“I think we were one of the first schools they saw,” Limongi told Land of 10. “I think as soon as they focused on 2019, they were here.”
Frost has told the Burke stars that they are priorities for the Huskers. His message to both included the theme that the short-term future of the program will be impacted by their decisions.
“They are very willing to build a relationship with the schools,” Limongi said. “We had good conversations. They really wanted to make sure that from here on out, their presence is going to be felt at a lot of Nebraska schools.”
With the focus on Henrich and Hickman, Frost and his assistants are climbing back into the race for local talent.
“They were both very excited,” Limongi said. “Heck, I got excited listening to [the Huskers’ pitch] myself.
“[The coaches] are obviously doing a great job. They’re going to be right there [with Nebraska prospects].”
Frost has the innate ability to connect with the state’s high school coaches. After all, he is a native of Wood River. What he’s done since his playing days commands respect, but he’s never forgotten where he came from.
“Coach Frost has been a lot of places and done a lot of amazing things throughout his playing career and coaching career,” Snodgrass said. “But he’s essentially a Nebraska small-town guy at heart. … I just get the feeling with this group that it’s more sincere than it was with other groups.”
Limongi said Frost’s home-state appeal to Henrich and Hickman could prove to be an advantage for Nebraska.
“They’re both guys that have a lot of emotion, a lot of enthusiasm,” Limongi said. “To be a part of something special like that, it excites both of them.”
The high school coaches approve of Frost’s desire to build up the walk-on program, as well as the way the Nebraska staff is going after the top five in-state recruits in the 2019 class.
Running backs coach Ryan Held was the first member of the new Huskers staff to visit York, Snodgrass said. Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud — a Nebraska native and former Huskers star — has maintained the contact, particularly with 2018 walk-on Simon Otte, who will graduate next month.
“As a coach and the father of a recruit, I definitely appreciate that,” Snodgrass said. “We’ll see how it goes. I get the feeling that they’re definitely more sincere about it than other coaching staffs have been.”
One of the key differences between the Riley and Frost regimes, Snodgrass said, is that assistant coaches take the lead on recruiting an entire state. For example, Ruud is in charge of Nebraska. During Mike Riley’s tenure, position coaches were responsible for recruiting their positions, regardless of where the recruits lived.
“I actually kind of like the fact that they’ve got one guy responsible for Nebraska now,” Snodgrass said. “That way if we have questions or whatever about a potential scholarship kid I can talk to Coach Ruud.”
One thing Snodgrass and the rest of the in-state high school coaches won’t have to question is whether Frost and his assistants will be knocking on doors when the time arrives to recruit the 2020 class. In all likelihood, they already know the answer.