football Edit

Matt Rhule aims to start fast on recruiting trail at Nebraska

“The future of Nebraska football is not hanging on one decision, but is hanging on the accumulation of day-after-day-after-day of great recruiting, great development, great coaching, great teaching and we’ll just try to say, 'What’s next?' every day." — Matt Rhule during his introductory press conference

Matt Rhule has a lot on his plate right now. He admitted as much Monday. His rebuild of Nebraska football began before the press conference. He has already made a handful of scholarship offers to 2023 prospects.

Each day for the next month is going to bring new prospects into focus for the coach. Rhule’s dive into the process of building a winner in Lincoln will uncover some unique challenges and advantages.

It’s a new world in college football

When Rhule exited the college game, it was a different ball game in how you acquired players. Name, image and likeness and the transfer portal are large parts of the landscape in college football right now. Nebraska used both to its advantage last offseason. Several top players on the team were at Nebraska at least in part due NIL and the portal.

Balancing the desire to recruit and develop players with the ability to use NIL as well as any school in the country will be something to watch. The topic came up during his introductory press conference on Monday.

"I think the good teams are doing both. I think as recruiting improves, the really strong teams probably have less transfer kids,” Rhule said. “The first thing I’ll do is continue to evaluate the roster. We will leave no stone unturned to find good players. We will take the walk-on program seriously, we will take transfers seriously, we will take NIL seriously. When I talk about all in, that's making sure we have the money to do NIL at the level of the teams we are competing against. We will look at everything. We won't sacrifice the ideals and integrity of the program. The guys that come here, there’s nothing wrong with a young man trying to make some money off his ability.

"They have to also want to be here for Nebraska, be here for their teammates, and want to win. When you find guys who want to come here, who want to develop and get a degree and want to serve the community and want to win, those are the guys we want to take care of financially when we win."

Having significant tools at his disposal to get talent is what helped bring Rhule to Nebraska. How he uses those tools will be part of telling the story of how his tenure goes.

Hitting the ground running

There are key dates looming on the recruiting calendar for Rhule as he shapes his roster:

— Dec. 2 is when the contact period begins for prospects. Rhule and his staff will be able to do in-home visits with players, which will be huge for the program.

"I will be recruiting Friday, what exactly that looks like right now, I don't know," Rhule said. "I'd like to have the full boat of coaches out on the road. But I don't know how things will happen here. It's my first time really dealing with the business part of this and then go into the current coaches. So, I want to be really respectful of the current coaches, make sure that I talk to them. Then get on the road, but we will be on the road, hopefully have an official visit weekend next weekend. Guys who came on one visit can come on a second visit."

To have the full boat of coaches out on the road to recruit, Rhule will need to get his hires in place quickly. It will be more difficult because he is targeting some coaches who are currently with other teams but the payoff is worth it if he lands quality coaches.

Recruit the players and commits you have

Casey Thompson.
Casey Thompson. (AP Photos)

One thing that new coaches do very early in their tenure is reach out to the commits in the current recruiting class. Louisiana running back commit Arnold Barnes told Inside Nebraska he heard from Rhule. His first impression was a good one.

“It went well,” Barnes said. “I know he is ready to bring it all to the table and is willing to bring Nebraska back to its winning ways. I’m with him the whole way and every step he takes with the program!”

Rhule said on Monday he called all the commits right off the bat to let them know he will honor their commitments. He understands that some may look elsewhere, but he’s going to re-recruit the players in the class. The head Husker also needs to recruit his current roster with the portal date of Dec. 5 looming.

It’s been reported that his first calls were to quarterback Casey Thompson and outside linebacker/defensive end Garrett Nelson. Rhule hopes to convince the pair to stay in Lincoln. Rhule also need to evaluate needs on the roster too.

"We'll just be trying to fill the needs," he said. "Part of that for me right now is going back and watching the tape of guys who haven't played. Where do they fit and what do we need? I'd say there's a lot of work that has to be done recruiting wise in a short amount of time."