Things I know, and things I think I know:
Don’t be surprised if Scott Frost’s program isn’t high on the list of college destinations for the top few in-state players in the class of 2022.
Don’t surprised if there’s some hysteria from the fan base, at least initially.
The way Huskeronline.com recruiting expert Sean Callahan sizes it up, it all makes a large degree of sense. Neither offensive lineman Deshawn Woods of Omaha Central nor outside linebacker Devon Jackson of Omaha Burke — the top two players in the state, according to both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com — grew up as Nebraska football fans, Callahan says. That feeling is real with a lot of in-state teens. What’s more, the pandemic has taken away Husker coaches’ ability to personally visit the players.
“I go back to when Frost first got here (in late 2017),” Callahan said Wednesday on 93.7 FM’s “Early Break” morning show. “Chris Hickman and Nick Henrich of Omaha Burke were not going to come to Nebraska. But (Husker assistant) Barrett Ruud just lived at Burke and won those two kids over. Well, that can’t happen right now. So the relationship with Nebraska is very minimal.”
Woods and Jackson are close friends. They may want to play together and may not want to play in the cold, said Callahan, who has covered in-state recruiting for several years. He specializes in it. When Woods and Jackson release their lists of favorite schools, it’ll be interesting to see if there are any Big Ten institutions represented. Callahan seems to think there won’t be any.
He also noted the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Jackson wants to play outside linebacker, while Nebraska may want him to play inside. What’s more, Jackson’s parents both were athletes at Illinois.
“He’s just not a ‘Husker kid,'” Callahan said. “Deshawn Woods, same deal. He didn’t grow up watching Nebraska football.”
Nebraska’s recent struggles as a program — five losing seasons in the past six years — are bound to impact recruiting. It’s just common sense. Thing is, this conversation could change quickly if the Huskers turn the tide in a big way in 2021.
As for the third- and fourth-ranked players in the state’s class of 2022, Bellevue West tight ends Micah Riley-Ducker and Kaden Helms, they happen to enter the scene on the heels of a Nebraska class of 2021 that featured three tight ends, including Thomas Fidone of Council Bluffs, Iowa — the nation’s top tight end prospect in his class.
Riley-Ducker is another example of an in-state prospect who didn’t grow up following Nebraska football, Callahan said.
Of the top four, Nebraska’s best chance could be with Helms, whose list of scholarship offers includes Arizona State, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan and Miami, among others. Yeah, a bunch of heavies.
Nebraska is squarely in the hunt for outside linebacker Ernest Hausmann of Columbus, the state’s fifth-ranked player, according to Rivals.com. Callahan regards Hausmann as a “must-get” prospect for the Huskers, especially in the context of where they stand with the top four in-state players.
It should be noted Frost’s staff has had ample success recruiting Nebraska kids, signing five in 2021 and 13 total since 2018.
It also should be noted that, well, sometimes kids want to experience life away from home. One of the top four prospects in the state of Wisconsin, a tight end from Milwaukee, is verbally committed to Penn State. Another of Wisconsin’s top prep players is a hard lean toward Notre Dame. In the class of 2021, the top three players in the state of Iowa wound up elsewhere.
As for Nebraska’s situation, let’s see how it all plays out. It’s a long way to the next signing date.
* Nebraska’s rugged men’s basketball schedule — seven games in the past 12 days — is just fine with Husker athletic director Bill Moos, especially playing two games on back-to-back nights at Maryland.
Keep in mind, Moos is an old-school sort who played football at Washington State in the days when practice restrictions were practically nonexistent.
“We’re just trying to get games in,” he said of Fred Hoiberg’s crew. “What’s nice about the schedule, and it’s by design, is we have the flexibility to schedule games that had to be postponed. Going out and staying in one locale is good.”
The fact Nebraska takes charter flights keeps the travel party out of airports. That’s built-in safety, he said.
“Sure, it’s going to be demanding,” he said of the schedule. “But we’re getting games in. We need the experience.”
He’s a glass-half-full guy. Love that.
* It doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention around here. Maybe it’s because he’s playing for Oklahoma City, a sub-.500 team so far this season.
But former Husker standout Isaiah Roby is playing major minutes and playing well for the Thunder. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds following an 11-point, 10-rebound effort Tuesday night against Portland. He’s averaging 20.7 minutes per game this month.
Yeah, I was skeptical about his chances to stick in the league. Specifically, I wondered how well he would handle the mental rigors.
Here’s hoping he keeps proving me wrong. That’s not necessarily easy to do. LOL.