Recruiting Roundtable: You ask, we answer

What's the hottest recruiting questions right now? Well, we've got them and the answers as well. Check out what people want to know about what's going on with NU recruiting right now and, for the future.

Who does Nebraska have a realistic shot at right now that could be a "crown jewel" of the class?

Bryan Munson: Last year was certainly strange. There were many players that Nebraska offered that in years passed would receive the offer and then not hear from Nebraska again. However, last year these players got offered and then received the type of attention necessary to land top talent.

Crown jewels are tough. They are tough to land and they are tough to say are actually crown jewels. Take for example Josh Freeman. Now, the potential is endless for this young man. At the end of the Lincoln rainbow you may very well have Byron Leftwhich or Ben Roethlisberger.

While I would say that Josh Freeman could be a crown jewel I am going to go with Jai Eugene right now. I think that Nebraska is in a unique situation to try and entice a player of Eugene's quality out of Louisiana. The depth chart is screaming for you Jai!

Brandon Cavanaugh: Some people would immediately point to Josh Freeman or Alex Cate and while either one would be a top notch steal, I'm gonna go with the homer pick and say Carl Johnson. Carl's the type of guy you can bring in from day one and he will provide what you need. That's not to say he won't make any mistakes during his freshman year, but he'll get the job done and be reliable at least.

Steve Ryan: The question was inevitable: Who will this year's Marlon Lucky be? Will there be anyone?

At this point, Nebraska is in on some of the best players in the country. And there's enough of them that it's easy to see how Nebraska could snag at least one by the time recruiting is over.

Right now, though, what's going to be the most important factor isn't who's committing, it's who's visiting and officially.

It's too early to expect any of the big names to commit, so the visits are the most important thing and the first step that Nebraska has to take every year in making sure to stay in the hearts and minds of some of the nation's best.

Now, there will be camps and unofficial visits that precede when the official visits are allowed, but if you are looking for that next Marlon Lucky, it's probably not going to happen then.

With all names out there like Josh Tatum, Carl Johnson, Taylor Mays, Chris Bell and others, the Huskers are going to have their opportunities to reel another five-star in. Now, if they do their job like last year, there could be even more.

How far away is Nebraska really, before the excuse of not having the right talent for the system doesn't apply?

Bryan: They are still a ways away. Last year you really had one quarterback, a handful of wide receivers, a tight end, 3 defensive backs and maybe 2 linebackers. Quality depth is a huge concern.

Last year was not a "fix all" and while I am predicting that many of last year's recruits will play this year many won't have huge impacts. They will get their year of experience, build on it and then prepare to lead.

Brandon: I'd say probably about 2-3 years. By that point, we'll have seen this past class get developed a bit and have an idea what they're going to do during their Nebraska careers. Zac Taylor will be gone and Harrison Beck would be pretty seasoned by that point not to mention the other talent that we'd have accumulated due to past recruiting classes. If the success that Nebraska has experienced in recruiting continues, the excuse will no longer remain valid at that time.

Steve: Well, the same argument that has been made for coaches that won national titles in just the first couple of years goes for coaches that lost.

They did it with someone else's players.

Now, people are generally going to use the rule of thumb that you must give it four years before you get to see what a coach or coaches can do with "their guys".

It won't take that long to realize just what the coaches are going to do, especially if they have classes even close to what they did last year. So, knock a year or so off and you should be seeing not the Nebraska that is partly what everyone wants it to be, but the Huskers that resemble pretty closely the vision of one, Bill Callahan.

You'll already see some effect this up-coming season, but chances are, it will at times not be very pretty to watch. There's still a talent curve here along with too many other variables to list, but there will be the inklings of what is to come.

In around three years, nobody will be able to say that this staff couldn't win with someone else's players, because through attrition, graduation, transfer or whatever, almost all of them will be gone.

Is this year's class more important than last year's?

Bryan: In a word: yes. It's pretty clear that no one in the South Stadium is hanging their hat on the talent problem being solved by last year's class. If they were, there wouldn't be this many offers out.

This year's class will get their chance to come in and compete. There could even be a few starters in this year's class. I predict that the CB, WR, TE and even OL depth charts will look radically different from this spring to the end of the fall.

There is still on simple reason for this and that is the lack of quality depth. Reps improve players. It builds and detects chemistry between players. Last year if you watched the OL play there were maybe 8 guys that saw considerable time.

That is far too many plays for an OL to be in a game to have him be 100% looking at a week of preparation on Monday or Tuesday. That is also not how Nebraska teams dominated teams like Miami and Florida in the mid-90s. There were fresh legs in there all the time.

While conditioning may play a part in there, it also has a lot to do with the different sets of legs that are available and are talented enough to come in and play and not be a liability to the team.

Brandon: No, but not by much. Last year's class was crucial to getting proper talent in place for Callahan's system. Now that he's got guys like Lucky, Jackson, Hardy, Taylor, etc. in his offensive system not to mention guys like Bowman, Dillard, Suh, etc. on defense, things are going to pick up, I think. Now, I'm not expecting miracles. It's not like in NCAA Football 2006 where you can plug a true frosh into the starting lineup and expect he'll do well due to a series of glitches.
There's going to be learning and it's going to be a trial by fire. Fortunately, raw talent can take you places as much as it can hurt you. I think there will be mistakes made, but excellent things done in 2005.

This year's class is important from a depth standard and to help things
on the defensive side of the ball especially. It's crucial to bring in a solid pack of defensive backs and safeties that can get into the rotation and make some kind of impact immediately if Nebraska wants a shot at hardware in 2006.

Steve: This class is just as important if not more-so, because all we have seen from the staff is what they are trying to do to address what deficiencies they have and hopefully look towards the future.

The problem is, they took 12 junior college players and that means that last year's class was mostly about right now instead of thinking predominately down the road.

This next class if the foundation for that and with them adding to the other prep-stars in last year's class, that's going to be the beginning of your all new Nebraska.

What we have seen is only a manufactured facsimile, the coaches piecing together what they can of what they want to do with the athletic version of duct tape and bailing wire.

This next class is replacing old parts instead of trying to fix them and before the next couple of years passes, they will have changed out everything they need.

This next class is just the next step, so it's just as important as the first, but if it's not good or even sub-par, well, we have seen the effect that just one marginal recruiting class can have.

Every single one is vital.

Nebraska seems to be going up against Louisville for a number of prospects this year. Why is this?

Bryan: Louisville gets recruiting, but they don't get a lot of top-talent. They produce NFL-type players in a NFL-type offense. The problem with having to recruit against some of the best or most crooked coaches in SEC country is something to consider as well.

Is there an under-lying reason why Louisville and Nebraska recruit the same players? Personally, I don't believe that there is. That would be like asking why has Nebraska offered a lot of the players that Oklahoma and USC have?

Talent is talent is talent. Everyone wants it. Even Louisville.

Brandon: It seems like about half of the kids I've talked to lately have been mentioning Louisville either as a school that they're interested in or have an offer from or that is even recruiting them the hardest. Louisville has a penchant for a proper passing game and, now, so does Nebraska.

I feel we're going after a lot of similar types of recruits especially when it comes to receivers or tight ends and that we're going to be fighting a lot of passing teams for their services, Louisville being one of them. Louisville has a lot going for them right now. They're starting this year in the Big East which they'll likely win as I don't think Pitt is up to their caliber and they'll be able to look at BCS bowls and money if that's the case which never hurts the recruiting trail. They'll be tough, but I think Nebraska will win as many recruiting battles as they lose with the Cardinals.

Steve: Guess what? You recruit a different kind of player, you are going to run into people recruiting the same players as you. Before, except for defense, Louisville probably didn't want many of Nebraska's players and let's face it, the Cardinals are only starting to grasp what in the heck a defense really is.

It's always been about offense with them, but Nebraska never ran anything even close to it, so there wouldn't be that much crossing of roads.

Now, there is, but Louisville is just one of many that Nebraska now considers the opponent when recruiting for the offensive side of the ball.

Louisville, Miami, USC, the changes at Nebraska have effected everything. This is one trend that will certainly not decrease.

Is it even feasible that Nebraska will have a run of commits before the season starts?

Bryan: There is one thing that is right before the season starts that will get this commit wagon-rolling…CAMPS! People forget, Nebraska didn't have a commit this time last year. I don't believe that Covey made his verbal to Nebraska until the end of June last year.

While many teams aren't off to a kind of start like Texas, I am not sure that you would want to be either. It's one thing to try and land a player, it's another holding onto them. It's May folks and Texas will have to keep all of those kids committed.

History tells me that players don't have a problem not going to Texas after being committed for some time. Ask Ryan Perrilloux. While I don't agree with what he did, it was to Texas. Maybe someone this year will make decommitting from Texas the vogue thing to do?

Brandon: I suppose it is. I guess it depends on what your definition of "run" would be. I think we can get a few commits. It's no secret that a few people we're after want to get their commitments out of the way before their season starts and I think we have a solid shot to land a few of them before ours does. I'd say 1-3 commits between now and then is a safe assessment. If that qualifies as a "run", then yes.

Steve: If Nebraska does have a run coming, it will more than likely be at the summer camps. This year, there's likely to be more talent per capita than any we can remember in recent memory.

This is going to be a time where players come in with offers that the coaches will no doubt put the full court press on. And, it will be a time where players like Derrick Russell can put himself over the top as to impressing the coaches into getting the offer right there.

It's hard to put a number on that, but there's always some anticipation that the camps will yield a bumper crop in future Huskers, even for those more than a year down the road.

I don't think this year is any different.

If there's a run before the season, this is where it will be at.

Which position in this year's class is the most important?

Bryan: You only need to pick up a depth chart to understand what positions are must gets this year. You are losing your top two safeties, top two defensive tackles, and top two offensive tackles

Nebraska has to get large numbers in each of these areas this year. We are talking multiples with the most coming at tackle (3) and the two safeties and defensive tackles.

The fact of the matter is, the class last year did not do a great job at addressing long-term problems at these positions in terms of depth. While at defensive tackle you brought in two junior college transfers you only get another year until you have this problem all over again.

Slowly, but surely, Nebraska will need to wean itself off of taking double-digit junior college recruits. You don't build a core and you would like to re-load with as many who know the system already as possible.

So, expect three at offensive tackle, two to three at defensive tackle and two to three at safety.

Brandon: I'd say it's a tie between the secondary and offensive line with defensive line bringing up the rear. As mentioned above, you've got a secondary that is razor thin on depth and needs not just bodies but talented athletes that can step in immediately. At offensive line, luck just hasn't been there and we need to continue to get top notch talent if we're going to do anything on offense. If you can't initiate things at the line of scrimmage, you're not going to pass well, you're not going to run at all, you're going to lose games.

The defensive line is an issue of depth. Le Kevin and Titus are both out of here and all you've got behind them is a very talented Ndamukong Suh with a year of experience under his belt and a lot of unproven names barring injury or someone really stepping into the rotation this year. I say take 3-4 defensive linemen which will provide you with at least a two deep alone in 2006.

Steve: The trenches. Yes, the secondary is in dire need of some serious addressing as far as talent, but the offensive line has needed help and with the loss of the two starters on the defensive interior, you are going to need to shore the depth there up quickly or Barry Cryer and Ola Dagundoro (if those two start next year) will be in almost the same boat as Smith and Adams were last year, getting off the field little to never, possibly Suh being the one guy that can spell the offense at either position.

I am a firm believer and will always believe that I don't care how many five stars you have at the skill position on either side, if you don't have a line, you don't have a team.

The offensive line can make the running game look good and make a quarterback's life easy, being able to pick teams apart if need be. A defensive line can make a secondary look good or as we have seen, the other way around if there isn't a constant presence in the backfield.

Yes, there are many positions that need addressed, but for me, you can say offensive line and defensive line and if you can hit your targets there, you can move onto the rest.

NU needs the bigguns.

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