Frost keeps his eye on nation, emphasizes Nebraska recruits
When Scott Frost was hired away from UCF by his alma mater Nebraska late last year, it represented more to the state than just hiring the hottest name on the college football coaching market. It meant a chance to return the program to its glory days and a direct connection to legendary coach Tom Osborne. And while the fans of the Huskers are eagerly awaiting the official kickoff of the Frost era in the fall, the efforts on the recruiting trail are well underway.
Nebraska has cast a nationwide net, with offers going out from Florida to California and everywhere in between. Frost and his staff have ties to several talent-rich corners of the country, but just like Osborne did in his heyday, Frost has made it clear that keeping Nebraska’s best players close to home is paramount and in-state players are taking notice.
“I think recruiting in-state has been a huge focus since the new staff came in,” said 2019 York, Neb., offensive lineman Noah Stafursky. “They’ve offered several people and they have a lot of kids that they want, and talent in Nebraska is better than it has been in a while. I think they are making a way bigger effort than before.”
HuskerOnline.com recruiting analyst Nate Clouse said that Frost’s comments about recruiting in his back yard have been consistent since the day he was hired and those efforts are starting to bear fruit.
“That's been a Day One emphasis for him,” Clouse said. “He keeps hammering home that when Nebraska was great back when he played a big part of it was because all the best players from the state were in Lincoln.”
So far, three of the Huskers' five commitments are from Nebraska, and they also make up three of state’s top five players, including the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, Garrett Nelson. Originally a commit to the previous coaching staff, Nelson had his offer re-affirmed by Frost shortly after he was hired and said it has been smooth sailing ever since.
Nelson said that while every kid grows up wanting to play for their home-state program, he thinks it means even more to Nebraska natives.
“It means everything,” Nelson said. “If you live in the state and you watch Nebraska your whole life, the sense of pride and not even just the football team, the university is insane. Even around border states, people who like Nebraska even have a sense of commitment. You find Nebraska fans everywhere, and that’s one of the unique things about the school. Anywhere you go you have a Nebraska shirt on and people will find you.”
Fellow commit Garrett Snodgrass, who is a teammate of Starfursky, said he thinks Frost has a better appreciation for the talent in the Huskers' back yard, considering he is a native of the state himself.
“I think it will give him an advantage over other coaches who don’t know a whole lot about Nebraska, because he knows all the people,” Snodgrass said. “He’s from here and he’s played here and he knows what it takes, and I think he’ll do a good job of keeping talent home and winning games.”
But it’s not every year that the state produces a high number of Power Five scholarship-worthy players, which means Frost and his staff will also have to recruit players to walk on, even if they have scholarship options at the FCS level. Several prospects said they don’t think that will be an issue for Frost, especially if the team is going in the right direction.
“If I had to choose between a mid-major scholarship or walking on at Nebraska, I’d go to Nebraska because I’ve always dreamed of playing there and I could fulfill my dream there,” said class of 2020 Papillion (Neb.) Papillion-Lavista offensive lineman Preston Kellogg.
Added Nelson: “Even if I would have gotten scholarships to other places, I probably still would have walked on at Nebraska. It means that much to me.”
So how long will it take for Frost to turn things around? The in-state recruits are cautiously optimistic about 2018 and beyond.
“I think he did it at UCF, and if he did it there he can do it here,” Starfusky said. “Nebraska is a bigger program, so I think we can pull in better recruits and he’s a great coach who brought a great staff with him. The sky is the limit with them.”