Rivals.com Exclusive: One-on-one with Huskers coach Scott Frost
LINCOLN, Neb. – Rivals.com's John Talman attended the Pipeline Camp at the University of Nebraska over the weekend, and he sat down with second-year Huskers coach Scott Frost on a variety of topics, including the state of the program in Lincoln. The video and transcript of the interview are below.
John Talman: John Talman here with Rivals.com and Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, thanks for joining us. Let's start here with the Pipeline Camp. This the first year of this [for] offense and defensive linemen. How important is a camp like this, not just from a recruiting and an evaluation standpoint, but development of these players, in Nebraska and the surrounding states?
Scott Frost: It's important for us. We want to recruit well in the state, definitely in the region. We're going to have to recruit nationally, but if there's a good player in the Midwest, we want to know about him and give him an opportunity to play here. I think it's also special to have a Pipeline Camp and have more camps that just focus on O- and D-line.
That's been the bread and butter of Nebraska football. In the great history of Nebraska football, the dominant O-lines and great D-linemen, there's a lot of seven-on-seven camps everywhere. There's a lot opportunity for skilled players to show what they can do. There's probably fewer for O&D linemen, so we're happy to give any O- and D-lineman that wants to compete another opportunity.
Talman: You transitioned your entire staff from UCF to Nebraska. At UCF [it was] a lot of, maybe a regional recruiting emphasis. At Nebraska, it's more national. How's that transition been like when you guys focus on recruiting strategy?
Frost: Well, we've got to go everywhere. I think we can get a good part of our team and probably the core of our team right here in the Midwest [and] hopefully a lot of kids from the state. We're going to have to go to a lot of different other places to fill out our recruiting classes and get the type of players that we need. Our coaches did a great job in the spring, are going all over. We hit a bunch of different states, a lot of different high schools.
Our guys have really worked hard to make sure that if there's a player that we think is good enough to play here, that they're familiar with us and they get an offer.
Talman: Going from that first recruiting class where you're on a shortened timetable, did you guys change any recruiting strategy from say, the last class to this class, or from year one to year two, on how you guys recruit, just learning a little bit more about the area and the Big Ten?
Frost: Yeah, I don't know if we changed our strategy at all. It was just helpful to have more time. I think the biggest difference in having a whole year was being able to get to know the kids that we were recruiting better. We just had to fast-track it that first year and get the best players we could that were available. This past year, I'd say we were more selective and able to recruit players not just based on their play on the field, but also how we think they'd fit us and their character.
Talman: How has the state of Nebraska changed, say when you were recruited or the challenge of getting an in-state player to go to Nebraska? I know there's so many kids that want to play but is it different in terms of it maybe not being a slam dunk with some kids just because of Nebraska's history in the past couple seasons?
Frost: I don't think it's changed. It probably changed a little before this staff got back here. We're going to put an emphasis on Nebraska kids, and if there's one that we think is good enough to play here, we're going to make sure they're here.
Talman: You've got a great one in Adrian Martinez, how do you manage quarterback recruiting moving forward knowing you've got a couple more years with Adrian?
Frost: To be honest with you I feel like our track record with quarterbacks sells itself. The successful quarterbacks we’ve had in our offense I think sells itself. In my time in this offense, we had Darron Thomas that took us to a national championship, Marcus Mariota that won a Heisman, Vernon Adams had led the country in pass efficiency, McKenzie Milton was one of the best players in the country and now Adrian Martinez.
If there's a great player in our scheme, they're going to be a household name around the country and I think that's going to help us get the most talented guy that we possibly can.
Talman: It's been a full year now you have the transfer portal, it seems to be a hot topic. What are your thoughts on that and how have you guys approached it?
Frost: Well, we're just trying to figure out that landscape and how that's going to work like everybody else. I think it's important for everybody to understand that. I think people have been surprised by the transfer portal. There's a lot of kids in it but a real low percentage of kids are leaving Power Five schools and landing in other Power Five schools. I don't think it was quite a big of a shuffling of the cards as people thought it was going to be.
We certainly want every kid that comes here to finish here, to get their degree here and have a great experience. Inevitably, there's going to be some kids that leave here. There's going to be some kids that we want from other places. I think it's in kids' best interest once they make a decision to stick it out. Just using myself as an example, I didn't play till my fourth year of college and things worked out really well for me. Sometimes you’ve got to be patient and put in the work to reap the rewards of what you're expecting to have happen.
Talman: You've had a couple of additions through transfer. What excites you about some of those guys that have transferred in recently?
Frost: Well, I think we had an opportunity to address a couple of holes or a couple depth issues. Certainly, losing Stanley [Morgan] last year, we felt like we needed some immediate help at receiver and I think we were able to add there. I think having Darrion [Daniels] on campus gives us some more depth and a good player on the D-line.
He's also been an unbelievable leader for us. We're not going to be a team that's going out and trying to add six or seven players a year. But, if there’s an area of need or somebody special that pops up, we're going to do what we can to try to get them here.
Talman: You’re going out trying to inject talent in your program and obviously talent is super important. But, how difficult [is it] or how do you guys go about not just finding the right player from a talent aspect, but also that's going to be a good fit with the rest of the team?
Frost: I think the way we recruit helps us get the right kid. We're not going to just be slick recruiters and go out and tell kids what they want to hear. We want kids to get to Lincoln and see what we're all about. We're going to show them exactly who we are and what we're all about. The type of kid that wants to come to Nebraska to play is usually a kid that’s serious about it.
If you're going to choose to leave someplace closer to home to come to Nebraska, then you probably recognize a lot of what makes Nebraska, Nebraska. The fact that there's really good men in this building that want to help them. This is a great place to come to focus on what's important and that's faith and family and football and academics. Having more time to recruit and get to know kids certainly helps us but I think the way we recruit kind of does that on its own and helps make sure that we get the right people.
Talman: You guys have had some success in recruiting in Arizona and New Jersey, these are places historically Nebraska, even when you were playing have been very great talent pools to tap into. Is that a conscious effort to go back to some states that you know that Nebraska has historically done well or just finding – It happens to be those players and your staff has connections there?
Frost: Yes, I think in this day and age, in recruiting, there's less focus on areas than there used to be, you see everybody around the country recruiting a little more nationally, so if there's a good player, we're going to do everything we can to get him here.
There's naturally some areas where the kids that grow up there probably fit Lincoln a little bit better and that's probably the reason that some of those have been hotbeds for Nebraska. Shoot when I played just having Mike Brown from Arizona and the Peter brothers from New Jersey, there's been a lot more, but those were some of the key players on our teams and there's a great track record from those two states of success at Nebraska.
Talman: One thing that's interesting too, about recruiting is when you find a great player, and then the position they may have come in at [to play], that's not where they're ultimately going to end up for you, a guy like Cam Jurgens moving to center, how's that transition gone for a guy like him?
Frost: Well, we're going to recruit as an elite [of an] athlete as we can and sometimes those guys end up where you think they were going to and other times you look at him and think, man, he’d be nails somewhere else and Cam is a good example.
He came in, we were trying to decide whether to play him at outside 'backer or tight end and it didn't take me very long watching him to see what he was and feel like he could be an elite center if we moved him. He’s had some injury issues and we’ve got to get him through that, but I have a lot of confidence in what he can become at that position, so we're going to try to put guys in the best place that we possibly can to help them get on the field and have success.
Talman: You talked about last year, the turning point, you also talked about feeling good about where the program is going. As you sit here today, what excites you about this group going into this season?
Frost: Well, when I walk into the weight room and see what our team looks like, that excites me. When I see smiles on kids’ faces and the effort that they're putting in because they love what they're doing, that excites me.
We finished in a good place last year. We certainly went through a heck of a lot of pitfalls and bumps to get there. The key for us is to start where we left off, from a culture standpoint, from an attitude standpoint, and from a competitive standpoint. We were a good enough team at the end of last year to play with or beat about anybody we played. We need to make sure we start there game one.