Nebraska ended up getting one, but missed on Smith and every other safety recruit last year (with the exception of Leon Jackson who moved to safety from running back). The loss was devastating and Nebraska finds themselves in a very similar situation this year, but with a lot less committed representatives actually in the U.S. Army All-American game.
It all started with Lorenzo Booker. That's who is to blame for the madness. He called a press conference his senior year and the world showed up. Tom Lemming and ESPN were there to cover it live. A player that was about to choose the school that he was about to go to for the next four to five years.
It's madness now. Kids are doing it all over America. Heck, there is a channel called College Sports T.V. that is basically set up to cater to this. High school kids needing a live television audience to declare to a school.
What else that seems to be needed is time. Time following the visit. Time to take other visits. Time to set up the press-conferences, or better, wait for a national audience to declare their commitment.
Next weekend the U.S. Army All-American game will take center stage in the recruiting world. The week of practice and pampering will open the eyes of some of the nation's best players. Whether it's the speed, the power or the skill of the others on the field or just the media attention; something will catch their attention.
There will be 17 athletes that will be committing to their top school this Saturday and possibly as many as 21. That is five commitments per quarter! Of the possible 21 commitments to be announced, Nebraska has offered at least 16 of them.
More than the 16 that have been offered there were six that have been to Lincoln on either official or unofficial visits. Of those six Nebraska is maybe being considered by one who will announce his intentions this weekend.
Why? Nebraska is obviously on the right path given the last part of the season and a convincing bowl win. Is there something that isn't happening? What has changed?
Well, one of the strengths that the coaches at Nebraska have chose to use in their favor has been big games in the early weekends of the year. Nebraska basically hosted a whose who of high school recruits the first weekends of the season.
Devin Ross. Jonas Mouton. David Ausberry. Perrish Cox. All four were in Lincoln the first three weekends of Nebraska's season this fall. Cox recently committed to LSU, but the other three are uncommitted, plan to announce next weekend and have basically eliminated Nebraska.
One problem with bringing in the big guns so early is that so few of them want to get a commitment out of the way. I mean, very few of these kids actually need to get out to camps to get offers. Many of them have college coaches looking at them when they are juniors or younger and have the offers that they need to already make a decision, but not the stage.
That stage comes a lot later after a lot of exposure, stories and more importantly visits. These kids haven't seen too many schools outside of their area up to the first weeks of the college football season in their senior year. While it may be key to get the players just in, it may need to become a consideration the percentages of actually landing talent that is brought in the early weekends.
Beyond just the U.S. Army All-Americans, let's look at the first three weekends of official visitors at Nebraska. The 9/2/05 weekend brought in nine official visitors of which one was committed to Nebraska already, Menelik Holt. Of the other eight there is Ross and Mouton who will announce this weekend, five others that aren't committed that aren't considering Nebraska anymore or have committed elsewhere and Mike McNeil who did commit to Nebraska.
The second weekend for Nebraska saw Nebraska bring in Ausberry and Josh Freeman who will be in the U.S. Army All-American game and both have eliminated Nebraska. In all fairness, Freeman was a Nebraska commit for about six months and recently changed his commitment. The other four visitors that weekend all remain uncommitted and have upcoming visits.
The 9/16 weekend saw Nebraska bring in just two players, both rated four-stars by Scout.com, and one has been selected for the U.S. Army All-American game. Cox recently committed to LSU and the other player in that weekend is Adrian Clayborn who recently chose Iowa.
There are a couple of other things that all of these players have in common. All of the players that were in the first three weekends, which yielded one commit, were all well-regarded by Scout.com. There were 17 total visitors over the three weekends whose total stars equaled 61 or 3.6 per player.
Another thing that was consistent among all of the players were the positive words that all had to say about Nebraska following their official visit. Many rated their visits '9' or even a '10', but still only one commit and beyond that not being considered by the other players didn't or weren't committed to Nebraska (and remain committed).
It seems that while the Nebraska coaching staff wants to use the gameday experience, the great weather, and the first few weekends of the season to jump-start recruiting it did not pay the dividends expected. While many would say that it is still a positive to have your named mentioned even if a player commits elsewhere, you are still expecting to win one of those wars.