Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football: Why Nebraska Has A Hard Time Recruiting Top Talent

 

In the first two parts of our seven part series on how others view The Nebraska Cornhuskers we asked writers how they viewed the Huskers and if Nebraska was an elite college football program. They seemed to see Nebraska in a positive light with a rich tradition. They also stated that The Huskers are a good to great team, but not currently an elite program.

Today I asked the writers why they think Nebraska has problems landing top tier recruits. Six writers responded, here are their thoughts.

Dave Thoman, who is the lead editor of JugOfSnyder.com, a Kansas State website, believes it’s all about location.

Dave Thoman: Lincoln has a phenomenal downtown and the airport is only a short drive from campus. But let’s be honest – kids from California want the bright lights of L.A. and Nebraska doesn’t scream “this state is full of excitement” – it’s the same perception battle K-State fights every day.

Dave has a favorable opinion on the city of Lincoln, but brings up a great point about Nebraska not really being seen as a place that will excite recruits.
Mitch Harper of LawlessRepublic.com also references location in his thoughts, but adds a few more elements to the conversation.
Mitch: High School kids get caught up in all the trends these days. Nebraska simply isn’t “trendy” right now to the nations elite. Recruits don’t realize the tradition of Nebraska football. We are now starting to see kids who might not have been born when the 1995 Huskers were putting up 70 spots on opponents.
While we all realize that it’s been a long time since Nebraska dominated the college football scene, what Mitch says is very true. Many high school players only know Nebraska as a good team, not a national power. These kids have only heard stories about Nebraska’s past and have not witnessed dominance on the field by Nebraska. Mitch solidifies that point with the rest of his response.
Mitch: In recent seasons, the Huskers haven’t won those big games under Pelini nor been in the biggest games to catch the eyes of top tier prospects.
Cam Newton from BigRedLouie.com once again hits on the theme of location as being a problem in landing recruits.
Cam: Because it’s Lincoln.  It just doesn’t have the appeal of Los Angeles or Miami.  If not for Nebraska’s tradition and facilities, they wouldn’t be getting any good recruits in my opinion.  Fortunately for NU, those who do come to Lincoln are very committed.
Cam hits on the Lincoln aspect, but also adds that tradition might be the only reason Nebraska lands any good recruits. While I am sure tradition does bring talent to Lincoln, I think the coaching staff does as well.
Joe Micik from SoaringToGlory.com believes location is an issue, but not necessarily because of a lack of bright lights or beaches.
Joe: I’m not well-versed in Big Ten recruiting, only when B.C. steals a B1G target recruit or vice versa, but I would imagine that location would have a lot to do with it.  Lincoln is further out from the center of the Big Ten, kind of like Neptune’s orbit around the sun, and while Nebraska has lots of great folks, it might not be easy to convince 17-year old kids from recruiting hotbeds from the south to go out to the Great Plains.
Joe is basically referencing Nebraska’s location inside the Big Ten itself. Lincoln is the western edge of the Big Ten border and might hurt The Huskers in getting some of the kids from Ohio or Michigan. He also adds those potential recruits from the south (SEC country) and the possibility of them not wanting to head to the northern climate Nebraska plays in. I think the four and five star kids from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, ect want to play with the big boys, and that is why they stay in their geographical area.
Steve Pesek from GoldAndGopher.com has a very expanded view of getting top level talent to come to Lincoln.
Steve: It is more difficult than ever to recruit on the college football landscape. Hundreds of factors go into a recruits decision of where to play and Nebraska is no different than any school outside of the Top 3 SEC teams and maybe Ohio State in recruiting nationally. Elite players for the rest of us sometimes just fall in our lap.
The challenge for programs is taking three and four star recruits and coaching them up to an All-American level. Not allowing the hype of recruiting websites and ESPN to get in the way of becoming a championship caliber team. For Nebraska specifically though, there are hurdles that a school in Lincoln, Neb. has to overcome in order to land high school All-Americans. Lincoln is a college sports town. No different than Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, South Bend, or Athens, Ga. Without big city lights and major media influence, many of the current crop of top tier recruits are already looking towards the NFL and how they can stand out nationally to attract attention.
Things like the Big Ten Network help Nebraska’s cause and NFL stars like Ndamukong Suh and Roy Helu continue to put the program on a global stage. Lincoln and the state of Nebraska as a whole needs to sell recruits on the program specifically and the strong fan base that is built around it. The idea that on campus in Lincoln a recruit is seen as a celebrity and part of the most popular team in the state should be selling points.
Steve is spot on with his assessment, especially with player development. While we have seen some Huskers really develop into great NFL talent over the past few seasons, some players seem to never fulfill their potential. Bo Pelini and his assistants have to do a better job with the three star kids and turning them into four and five star talent.
Our final response is from Chris Flanagan of HookEmHeadlines.com
Chris: Location, Location, Location. Unlike in the past, every program is on TV. They (Nebraska) don’t have that advantage anymore. Nebraska is surrounded by land without  much of a population. Blue chip recruits are staying closer to home. Texas recruits are staying in state. Same with Florida, Ohio, and Georgia. That’s the issue facing the Huskers.
Tomorrow we continue our seven part series by asking the question, does Nebraska playing in The Big Ten help or hurt the perception of the program?

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