Keeping a healthy perspective

Just under 2 weeks to go. Just under two weeks before signing day. Not even half a month to fill the recruiting class up with kids that you can get in front of the media and talk about as if they were exactly who you wanted and all with a straight face. Not even two weeks to almost double the current class of commits and address the vast number of needs NU has. Is it possible? Sure, but sometimes the best question is, do you want to do that at all?

Nebraska has 13 commits right now. With not even two weeks to go before Letter of Intent Singing Day, most would panic if they didn't know what was going on this weekend.

This weekend, more than a dozen recruits have ventured into town, some on no more than a week of notice from Nebraska, some coach calling them or just showing up for the first time stating, 'we want you'.

And, in all reality, Nebraska could increase the size of their class of commits by as many as 6 or so after the weekend is over. From 13 to 18 in less than three days. That's pretty good.

Right?

First thing is first and that is, fans will find some reason to be happy and some will find a reason to complain no matter how this weekend turns out.

If Nebraska gets six, the half-full fan mentality will assume that NU addressed needs, got players they personally wanted and courted, even if only for a very short time.

The half-empty fan will see this as a desperate attempt to fill spots, coaches taking bodies instead of players, hoping that they can roll the dice in their favor with a few here and there.

The amount of visitors this weekend can also be perceived in a couple ways. The sheer number offers the thought that there were some great players out there that were just waiting for something like this to happen and nobody should interpret them accepting the visit and possibly the offer with less than a couple of weeks notice as anything other than that recruit finally finding that place that fits them best.

The other side is, hardly anyone was recruiting them, possibly nobody else had offered them at all, so if the high and mighty Huskers are going to offer, they are going to smile, cheer silently to themselves and thank the prep-football Gods for the current situation at NU.

So, which is it or is it either? I would lean towards the middle of this, because unless recruiting coordinator, Scott Downing has just been tanning the entire season, he probably has a good grasp on most if not all of the current visitors and/or commits.

That's not to say that all of them are on the coveted "A" list, but if they are on the list at all, you don't have the time to go back and redo or rethink anything. So, it is a little like taking bodies to fill spots, only they are bodies recognized, evaluated and accepted as viable candidates.

Ok, that's the bright side and the optimistic side. This late in the game however, you realistically aren't on the "A" list, the "B" list or even the "C" list, "C" for choices are gone, get while the getting is good. The list of prospects that fit what you want to do is Calista Flockhart thin. That doesn't mean you are taking nothing but cannon fodder. In fact, Nebraska could be the illustration of sometimes a little luck doesn't hurt at all.

Amongst the visitors this weekend, you have a combination of commits, prospects and projects. The projects being kids that you admit that they are long-term guys, weight room candidates early on with the hope that by their junior or maybe even senior year, you can get enough out of them to justify recruiting them in the first place. That may sound harsh, but it's the real world and though recruitnicks want every five star player in the books, this isn't USC and there's a new sheriff in town by the name of Bill Callahan.

That's actually part of the luster that has Nebraska in the recruiting game as much as it is right now. New coaches, new offense and the potential of a new mind-set from the old staunch traditional fundamentals that made Nebraska what it was.

While Bo Pelini was making a lot of headway in Florida and on the defensive side of the ball, nobody will deny where Nebraska needed the most help was the other side, a unit depleted, unproductive and stagnant.

It's amazing what the two words, 'West Coast' can do for recruiting, eh?

And, that is much of the reason for why NU is as popular as it is to some recruits, even this late in the game. A brand new offense, especially one so far away from the offense that preceded it, that means opportunities abound for prospects to vie for positions on the field their first year, regardless of experience.

In fact, the newbies that are coming from either high school or junior college offenses resembling what Callahan will be running this year, they aren't just thinking about a shot at the starting line-up. Some are drooling at the idea that in their first year with a program so steeped in tradition, they have at least as good a shot at playing right now as anyone that has been there for almost an entire college career.

Truthfully, if Callahan had been hired right out of the gate instead of Steve Pederson dragging his feet because Dave Wandstedt ended up falling through, a potentially promising recruiting class could have bordered on excellent.

That's water under the bridge though and what matters is what happens from this weekend until the days kids sign on the dotted line, officially putting their name to a collegiate roster somewhere around the country.

It's at this time where Nebraska finds itself in a position that would be enviable if they had, had an entire recruiting season to take advantage of all the fresh ideas, but so short in the game, Nebraska is in part recruiting mode, part panic mode, thus the incredible volume of names you have never heard of becoming prominent on the potential Husker landscape.

Based on what we have seen thus far in such a short span of time, Nebraska fans can be truly optimistic about where Husker recruiting is headed. It's important though that they put some serious perspective on the season at hand.

Callahan came in with three weeks to talk to, visit and to an extent, even evaluate as much talent as he could at both the prep and junior college level. And, at some point, he had to look at what he had on the current team himself to try and grasp what he did in fact need more at certain positions. Downing may be the recruiting coordinator, but Bill knew him and what his skills were about as well as he knows what in the hell a 'Lil Red' really is.

With everything going against him, Callahan and company can look at this as a home stretch that is as short as the one at Fonner Park in Grand Island, but more challenging than the final straightaway at Belmont.

For you fans though that define everything recruiting by stars or rankings, I'll give you an easy gage to figure out if NU did good or just filled spots on the chart.

If Nebraska ends up with a ranking by the majority of the services in the top 25, sit back, smile a bit and consider the efforts of the staff under some very trying circumstances a monumental success. To even think with so much going against them that they should or would be expected to garner a class of nothing but prep-all-everything player is asinine.

If Nebraska however does manage for whatever reason to break even the top 15, you can call Callahan, Blake and whoever was hitting the road with so little time the next best thing to Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne or even Duffy Dougherty who was once said to be the best recruiter since Jesus Christ. Yeah, it will have been that big of an achievement.

Face it folks, Nebraska fans may live with those rose-colored glasses permanently fixed upon their brows, but reality is what it is and if this recruiting class comes out even close to what the coaches wanted, that will have been no less of an accomplishment than the one Devaney faced trying to instill a winning attitude into a team that didn't know what winning was.

Convincing kids that even though you are a west coast guy, from a SuperBowl team using a west coast philosophy, you are trying to tell them that the school most noted for never changing is going to do just that. It's not just about getting to know them, convincing them you want them, but also making them believe that you can do what hasn't been done in Lincoln in 30 years..........and win doing it.

Oh, and you have less than three weeks to do it.

It's about perspective. Try to keep a realistic one when singing day arrives.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619


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