NU coach Mickey Joseph brings recruiting expertise to Nebraska
“Coach, I’m tired,” former LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said.
But Mickey Joseph, who was the receivers coach for the Tigers at that point, wouldn’t let him hang up the phone.
Joseph said he had heard Auburn was visiting Chase, a four-star receiver from Harvey, La, the day before national signing day in 2018.
“I called him and he answered the phone,” Joseph, Nebraska’s new wide receivers coach, said. “We talked and he kept trying to hang up. I wouldn't let him hang up. I kept him on the phone for four or five hours.”
Chase and his future coach talked until 2:30 a.m. and the receiver never met with Auburn.
“I said, ‘You signing those papers in the morning?’,” Joseph said. ‘“He said, "Yes, sir. I'm signing them.’”
The coach called him back at 7:00 a.m. to make sure he was signing with LSU.
Chase helped LSU become the 2021 national champions and, what some call, one of the best teams in college football history. He was the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals after recording 2,093 receiving yards on 107 receptions and 23 touchdowns in two seasons.
Joseph is known for recruiting Chase, first-round NFL pick and current Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. In his five seasons at LSU, Joseph had three five stars and 12 four-star recruits sign to the Tigers.
Now at Nebraska as the wide receivers, associate head coach and pass game coordinator, the former Husker quarterback will be bringing his recruiting expertise and Louisiana and southern connections to Nebraska.
“There is no question that he is going to work his tail off to try and get us the best players that we can in this program,” Husker Head Coach Scott Frost said. “We need a few more guys like that that are out hitting the pavement trying to bring the best guys possible to Lincoln.”
Joseph’s recruiting pitch focuses on the people in Nebraska’s program and the people supporting it.
“I tell them that everybody's going to have facilities,” Joseph said. “Everybody's going to have big stadiums, locker rooms. I sell the people in the building and I sell the people in the state of Nebraska because there are good people here.
“Some of these kids come from environments where there are not a lot of good people there,” he continued. “Some of them come from inner cities where you have to lock your door. I'm thinking you still probably don't have to lock your door here, you can leave the keys in the car. That's what I remember. It's a safe place.”
He said another part of his pitch is to sell the recruits on being a part of “something special” and having the entire focus of the state on one team.
“The attention that you're going to get when you are here because, in this state, it's one team,” said the Marrero, La. native. “You don't have to have LSU, Tulane, then you got the Saints, you got Nebraska, and that's the attention that you're going to get.”
So how does he land highly recruited players like Chase and Jefferson?
“You can't have recruiting relationships, you have to have real relationships with them to get those kids,” Joseph said.
He puts an emphasis on coaching up the players before they join Joseph’s group or even commit to his school.
“I think you have got to really start coaching them before they get to you,” he said. “My big thing is, I watch a couple of cut-ups on Friday night and I make my calls Saturday morning before the game to my top kids.”
Joseph lets the players know his coaching style and that he wants them to excel in their position before they join the roster.
Highly recruited players typically come from high schools where they were a star and usually played three to four years on varsity. Division I football is different.
“The one thing you communicate to them is that you're going to be fair with them, that you're not going to come in here and you're not going to start right away,” he said. “You’ve got to earn everything that you get.”
Currently, one LSU receiver has decommitted to the Tigers and followed Joseph to Nebraska. Decoldest Crawford committed to the Huskers on Dec. 17, less than a month after it was announced that Joseph would join the team.
Trey Palmer entered the transfer portal to leave LSU after three seasons. Palmer has reportedly been in contact with Nebraska.
For Joseph, he said the athletes he will recruit and for that matter, who he has recruited in the past, will still fit into the Big Ten.
“I think we still can get those kids up here and I'm going to go after those kids,” Joseph said. “If they're good enough to go play in the SEC, they're good enough to come here and play in the Big Ten at Nebraska and that's why I'm approaching it.”
His pitch to recruits could be similar to why he decided to return to Nebraska and what being a Huskers meant to his life.
“At the end of the day, this is my school,” Joseph said. “I'm going to support Nebraska for the rest of my life no matter where I'm coaching at because without the University of Nebraska, without Nebraska the state and the fans and the people here, I wouldn't be sitting here with you today. They gave me a foundation, they accepted me for who I was and I was surrounded with great people when I came here.”