You can say what you want about recruiting in general, but it's interesting. So interesting in fact, those recruiting fanatics that scoff at women who watch soap operas and guys that willingly watch professional wrestling, well, they are and have become addicted to a real life soap opera. So, maybe that is what makes it interesting.
The ups and downs, the ins and outs, the numbers, comments and decisions. The potential though is where each finds their most interest, wondering how high school numbers translate to collegiate success.
Let me clue you in on something. It doesn't. Numbers in high school are a reference and nothing more as to what a player was, but counts little as to what they can potentially be. For all of Chris Leak's numbers, he will be stepping on a Division 1-A field for the first time, encountering Division 1-A speed. Wali Muhammad's 22 sacks will mean exactly nothing as he faces the best offensive linemen he has ever faced in his career. Stars, stats and measurables might be enough to get you going, but it won't sustain you through the trip.
Nebraska did two things remarkably well this year in recruiting. First and foremost, they overcame what was potentially a recruiting disaster waiting to happen with the coaching situation that coach Frank Solich was confronted. Kids coming in on their official visits and no position coaches to show them, the obvious chances for a complete meltdown in recruiting was there.
Somehow, some way, Nebraska overcame that with the limited staff they had, keeping the interest alive until all the spots could be filled. That right there is a marvelous achievement all by itself.
The second thing was something Nebraska isn't noted for and that is closing out a recruiting season well. They did just that and during the time where the new coaches were being brought in or had just been hired, NU possibly set a precedent for something they haven't had a lot of experience with, the de-commit. Not from NU mind you. They know how that feels all to well, but players de-committing from other schools to play for the Big Red, now that is something NU fans aren't used to seeing at all.
Here's the big question though. What's going to happen now? I can see you browsing the names and I can almost hear those questions popping out of your mouth.
Will Joe Dailey be able to compete right away for the starting job at QB, because Lord floundered towards the end, the health of Curt Dukes is in question and nobody really knows what Mike Stuntz can do?
Will this offensive line class be enough to seal up some gaps from either poor performances or health issues from recruiting classes in the last couple of years?
Will the junior college recruits do what they are expected to do and that's get on the field this year?
Who will replace DeJuan Groce?
Can Wali Muhammad join Benard Thomas in being the next great set of bookends in NU rush end history?
And how about, can this class be THE class that helps if not as starters, but in regards to depth, to cement NU's rise back to where they are accustomed?
Of course, none of these questions can be answered now or perhaps even in the next year to two years. That's the great thing about recruiting season though. It's the ultimate crap shoot as you speculate on everything from their "actual" forty time to how much they might grow yet before they graduate college.
There really is nothing that you can't conjecture on at this point when you have so many variables that are simply impossible to calculate. You wonder, ponder, digest information and come to what you term as your realization of just what will happen in the end.
Letter of Intent signing day isn't even close to that realization though, unless you had some obscure office pool going on who would end up where. LOI day is simply a time where you can take the vacant spots left by those no longer at NU and replace them with the next wave of players for the future.
I will tell you though what LOI day is above everything else that you can imagine it could be. It's the end. Yes, the end. As you have speculated about each recruit, it's still very much with what happened in the past. You think of what went wrong and wonder how each player on this list can address that or help to make it better.
You have looked at players just recently graduated and tried to evaluate everything that was and wasn't good about the NU team and figure each of this prospects into that mix, if just to wonder "what if".
What LOI day signifies though is the end to wondering about what was and now, you speculate as to what might be, thinking not about if this player can undo something, but what that something is they have to offer. You now look at new depth charts not old ones, speculate as to who will fill slots, not who is being replaced and you think of the future, instead of (in this case) languishing in the past.
LOI day is the final chapter of that soap opera season and like every good soap opera, it leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat. You can't wait for the year to begin. You can't wait to see the next "episode" and you can't wait to see new and interesting twists there are to come.
Depending on how fanatical you are about LOI day, you could agree or disagree with all of this. Maybe it's just a list of players to you that you hope brings success to the team. This is Nebraska though and I bet that most of you have some serious interest about it all. And if that's the case, next time you look at your wife in disgust as she tapes the 65th episode of "Days of our Lives" or simply shudder at the sight of ten guys watching anabolic acrobats tossing each other around a ring, parading and flaunting to yet another script, just think of yourself and how you were this season and how you will probably be next season.
Yes, this is real, but you are hinging your life onto the comments of a 17 or 18 year old high school kid, hoping that come LOI day, he's yours to watch for the next four years. Yep. It's pathetic and you know what? I can't wait to do this again next year.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619
Make sure to keep your eyes glued to HuskerConnection over the next few weeks as we will be bringing you our year-end recruiting yearbook on the players for NU's future, plus if you have read the TAKE ONES, get ready for the mother of all TAKE ONES as I will spin you down the year in recruiting that was, talk about the big gets, the big losses and some of the things you may not have heard before. Plus, we will have much more stuff on the recruiting, including sound bytes from Solich on all the recruits, answers to questions regarding this year and our own analysis of how these recruits fit into the future at NU. Make sure to keep checking the INSIDE NU&RECRUITING board, because that's where a lot of it will be, instead of hitting the front page.