Husker Recuriting Since 2004

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With the 2020 recruiting cycle wrapping up, I wanted to look at how each coach since 2004 stacked up in terms of bringing talent to Lincoln. I decided to plot each coach’s top 75 recruits over his time at Nebraska. This method favors Bo Pelini as he brought seven classes into Lincoln. Bill Callahan, Mike Riley, and, so far, Scott Frost have all brought fewer than four classes. I left Frank Solich out of this analysis as I only had reliable recruiting dating for his 2002 and 2003 classes.

All four coaches brought in similar top 20 guys. Callahan was a premier recruiter of top end talent. Four of the top eight Husker’s signees since 2004 were signed by Callahan: Marlon Lucky, Ndamukong Suh, Cortney Grixby, and Lydon Murtha. Marlon Lucky is the lone five-star recruit of this era of Huskers football.

After the top 20, things start to differ for all the coaches. Callahan and Riley both struggled to bring good talent for depth. From the graph, Pelini seemingly was able to consistently bring in most talent. In seven total classes, Pelini brought in 35 four-star recruits. Frost, who still needs to complete his third class, has already brought in 22 four-start recruits. 28% of Frost recruits have been four-star players. Only 22% of Pelini recruits were of this caliber and only 21% of Riley players were four-stars.

Bill Callahan’s top talent was also the talent that made the biggest contributions at Nebraska. Of his top ten commits, eight went on to make significant contributions to the Huskers. In Pelini’s seven seasons, four of his top ten recruits became significant contributors. What I would argue were Pelini’s two most exciting recruits, Bubba Starling and Aaron Green, made almost no impact at Nebraska.

The last five season have been some of the worst in Nebraska history. When looking at the contributions of the top talent from the last five years, its easy to see why. Only two of the top ten recruits Mike Riley brought to Nebraska became major contributors: Eric Lee and Lamar Jackson. Seven players made almost no contribution to the Huskers. Scott Frost has already signed three players who made significant contributions in Lincoln: Adrian Martinez, Wan’Dale Robinson, and Cam Jurgens. Seven of his top recruits still have plenty of time to leave an impact for Nebraska.

Nebraska’s talent has been lacking the last few seasons. In his first three classes, Frost has signed as many four-star recruits as the five classes prior. In no class since 2004 has Nebraska signed as many four-star recruits as it did in the 2020 class. Recruiting seems to be trending well and a sign of bigger things to come.

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