football Edit

Three & Out: 2021 Husker highlights, reworked JR Days, Southeast recruiting

This is HuskerOnline.com's feature in which recruiting analysts Mike Matya and Bryan Munson give their weekly takes on topical issues concerning Nebraska football, baseball and recruiting.

Today in our next installment of "Three and Out" we hit on 2021 Husker highlights, reworked Junior Days, Southeast recruiting recap.

John Cook and his volleyball program set the standard at Nebraska.
John Cook and his volleyball program set the standard at Nebraska. (Abby Barmore)

2021 Husker successes

The Nebraska football and men's basketball teams are going through tough times right now, but that should not detract from the notable success stories that have gone on in the Cornhuskers' athletic program this past year.

We were just witness to yet another strong postseason run by the NU volleyball team as they peaked at the right time and nearly won their sixth national title. The Huskers came up a few points short in five sets to Wisconsin in the championship game, but they knocked off the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in the tournament, including a big win at Texas.

John Cook's teams play with passion and are fundamentally sound. His players develop throughout the season and his coaching tree is becoming extensive. Lexi Rodriguez was named the National Freshman Player of the Year, and the roster is stocked with young talent.

Nebraska's volleyball team is setting the standard for the athletic department and has been doing so for quite a while. John Cook is a hall of fame coach who is in his prime and recruiting better than anyone in the entire country. His program is the new "Big Red Machine" and the flagship of the University.

The Cornhusker baseball team won their first conference championship since 2017 and were one game away from making the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament.

Spencer Schwellenbach was the Big Ten Player of the Year and he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the MLB Draft. Cade Povich was taken in the third round by the Minnesota twins, and Cam Wynne was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round.

Max Anderson was named a Freshman All-American by D1Baseball and he was a Cape Cod League All-Star. Coach Will Bolt and his staff are also recruiting better than anyone in the conference.

It looks as if the Huskers may have found their Dave Van Horn 2.0 in head coach Will Bolt.

On the football side of things, even though the team results have been lacking recently, Husker fans were treated to individual performances by players who deserve to be mentioned among the all-time greats at their respective positions in Lincoln.

Tight end Austin Allen and defender JoJo Domann both received first-team and second-team all-conference honors as their college career production left a mark on the Nebraska record books. Both will be dearly missed by NU football fans and they will likely have successful NFL careers ahead of them.

The Nebraska wrestling team finished third in the Big Ten in 2021 and 12th at the national tournament. They are currently No. 9 in the national poll as five of the top 9 teams are from the Big Ten.

The Nebraska women's basketball team is also undefeated as we get ready to turn the calendar to 2022.

Winning on the team level and succeeding nationally as individual players is possible at Nebraska, as all of the above have proven. They all deserve to be remembered and celebrated for the excellence they achieved in 2021.

- Mike Matya

Junior Days may take on new meaning

Nebraska seems anxious to hit the ground running at the end of the dead period. If you remember from the recent update on Gunnar Gottula, he spoke about an upcoming junior day at Nebraska on January 22nd.

There have been other recruits referencing junior day dates after the dead period, including the weekend of January 29th. There is definitely a need for Nebraska to get recruits on campus for both the 2023 and 2024 recruiting classes to meet the new staff in Lincoln.

As you might recall, there were high volume recruiting weekends to close out the 2021 season. Out of those weekends Nebraska got a chance to get the ball rolling with a lot of area recruits and got a few offers out the door.

Those large number of visitor weekends could -- or maybe I say should -- be a thing of the past. While the recruits may continue to keep referring to them as junior days, we will start to see a difference.

I expect what Nebraska fans will start seeing is quality over quantity. And when I say that, I am not speaking to the rating of the recruit. I am speaking to the experience of the recruit.

Where the schools lose out on large quantity visitor weekends is the ability to meet with all of them. There are only so many staff members to help host and there are always questions. As you can imagine, some families are more inquisitive than others and having to answer one family's questions takes away from the other recruits and their families.

Look for more substance to the weekend as well in terms of the visitors being more offered recruits or soon to be offered recruits. Nebraska got a great chance to look around at a large number of area recruits through those larger recruiting weekends in the fall. I would look for more of a filtered type of visitor list to really make the weekends more productive for Nebraska.

There has been a lot of criticism of the 2022 recruiting class. Covid, not hosting recruits for 18 months, and underperforming on the football field crushed the possibilities and the potential for the class.

The Huskers will try to get back on track with the 2023 and 2024 classes with the last couple of weekends in January and expect the weekends later in spring to resemble more of a "Big Red Weekend" feel.

From my family to the staff at HOL and all of our readers/subscribers.... have a safe and happy New Year! Here's to better times in 2022!!!

- Bryan Munson

NU assistant coach Sean Beckton has extensive recruiting ties in the Southeast.
NU assistant coach Sean Beckton has extensive recruiting ties in the Southeast. (Nate Clouse)

Southeast football recruiting

Since Scott Frost was named the new head coach of the Cornhuskers' football program, he and his staff have made a concerted effort to recruit the talent-rich states in the Southeast part of the country.

They have had more success in signing prospects from that area of the country than they have in retaining and developing them to date.

Husker assistant coaches Sean Beckton and Travis Fisher have been mostly responsible for Nebraska's recruiting presence and inroads in the Southeast, and now Mickey Joseph will give them another option on the staff who has ties to the area.

But is the time and investment spent recruiting the Southeast really worth it, based on the returns of the past four to five years? The graph below casts some doubt on that:

Husker Southeast Signees
State 2018 Class 2019 Class 2020 Class 2021 Class 2022 Class

Florida

6

0

7

1

1

Georgia

2

3

1

3

0

Alabama

2

1

2

0

0

Mississippi

2

0

0

0

1

Kentucky

0

1

0

0

0

Louisiana

0

1

0

0

1

South Carolina

0

1

0

0

0

Tennessee

0

1

0

0

0

Total signees / departed program

12/8

8/6

10/6

4/1

3/NA

In Coach Frost's first four recruiting classes, fully 21 of the 34 recruits, or 62%, signed from the Southeast states have already departed Nebraska's program early.

Recruiting the state of Florida, in particular, has been a bust. Of the 14 recruits signed from the Sunshine State by Coach Frost from 2018-2021, 11 of them [79%] are no longer in the program.

For whatever reason, prospects who come from those particular geographical states have a hard time acclimating to Lincoln and sticking around for very long.

Unless it can be determined what those reasons are for their premature defections, and reasonable remedies can be developed to reverse that trend, maybe those recruiting resources would be better spent elsewhere.

You wouldn't necessarily have to completely give up on that part of the country when looking for future Cornhusker football players, but maybe more due diligence should be done to make sure any potential signees would be a good fit at Nebraska long term.

- Mike Matya