The Year of the Relationship

A common topic brought up by recruits about Nebraska is their relationship with the coaching staff. Often times the strongest, it seems to be paying off for the Huskers.

If a reporter stays in this business long enough, they can get a really good feel on how some college football programs recruit.

Some use their name and brand to attract players. Others sell kids on what they will be able to accomplish during four to five years they are there.

Then there is a school like Nebraska. Who has everything working for them, but seems to have a common theme among their top targets this recruiting class.

"It's all about relationships at Nebraska," said 3-star quarterback Tommy Armstrong – who is being recruited by Coach Tim Beck.

The soon to be senior is right. When talking to recruits, I can't count how many have told me they feel like they have a better relationship with the Nebraska staff compared to anyone else. Even if they know they aren't the Huskers top target at a position.

"They want to know more than just about football, but how I'm doing personally. Coach Beck is asking about my family and if everything is going well. He is really getting to know me," said Armstrong. "I have noticed with them, I'm able to talk with them easily. That it's important, you need to be able to talk with the coaches if you are going to spend the next four or five years of your life with them. When I talk with them, it's more than just , are you going to come here? Or let me tell you about it here. They actually want to learn more about me and get to know me. We are going to have a lot to talk about when I visit, because that relationship is already there. There won't be those awkward getting to know you moments."

Like we said, it's not just Armstrong who feels this way. Other Husker recruits have mentioned it as well.

Jordan Westerkamp - "I definitely have great relationships with the coaches. I try to talk to Coach Beck, Coach Fisher and Coach Garrison once a week. Even before I committed they really showed an interest in me. What I liked the most was how honest they all were including Coach Pelini. I just felt real comfortable with the coaches. I felt that they had great character and when they said something to me it didn't feel like a sales pitch.That was a huge part of my decision."

Vincent Valentine - "I've noticed the relationship aspect. I was just talking to Coach JP today - it was about him being in St. Louis and how he really liked it there. With them it's definitely more about them getting to know you."

Michael Rose - "The thing about Nebraska that first interested me was the program in itself, but as you get deeper in the recruiting process you naturally gain that relationship with the coaches. Most schools send one guy out to recruit you, but with Nebraska they sent the whole staff. I have a great relationship with Coach Garrison, Els and Brown. They make you literally buy into the WHOLE program."

Taiwan Johnson - "I think that developing a relationship with the coaches is very important and I love the Nebraska coaches. They are down to earth guys. I already understand that Nebraska is a great school, has good football, great facilities, education , etc. - the important thing is the relationships you build with the coaches and can you see yourself playing for them."

Some programs don't need to establish relationships with players. But with a school like Nebraska, who doesn't primarily use in-state players to fill their roster, the relationship is an important factor. Does that player have a connection to head to Lincoln?

"Coach Beck told me that he was going to be visiting with his mom and dad this week, so he might be busy. But told me if I call, he always had time for me. He told me if he missed the call, to call him back, since he can't call me right now," said Armstrong – who hinted how much a gesture like this means to him. "I'm not committed, but they don't care at this point. They still want to establish a relationship with me.

"Some colleges just want to know where you are in the recruitment process, tell you they want you, and then tell me about their school. But that is it. They don't ask anymore. Coach Beck is definitely not like that. He doesn't even really talk about that stuff with me anymore. He says he has let me know they want me. He doesn't need to harp on that."

Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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