First thing is first. You've seen everyone else's run down of each player going to Nebraska. Well, we are going to give you ours. We'll go by position.
Forget the film, forget his off the field demeanor. What Joe brings to the table more than anything is the ability to not kill his own team. You may end up watching his film and say, "Yeah, he's good, but I've seen better". That may be, but what Joe isn't spectacular at, he makes up for by being darn good at every single thing. He's mobile, yet good in the pocket. He's accomplished throwing on the move or standing still. Poise and the ability to get out and get going when needed. Plus, he makes good decisions. Whatever you want your QB to do for you, what you don't want them to do is lose the game. A QB can't win a game on their own very often, but a mistake here and there can cost them dearly. Joe is one of those guys that doesn't cost his team, his 35-6 record as a starter a perfect illustration of that. His moxy combined with his mentality make him an ideal fit for the "new" Nebraska offense.
Not on the map for most recruiting followers, even though he's an in-state kid, Tierre Green (cousin to Ahman Green) comes with a few question marks. Well, let me answer a couple of those in that if you are wondering if this is athletic, he is. NU offered him as an athlete and he fits the bill to a tee. I would hazard to say that NU was trying to hit the proverbial home run in trying to find one RB, but I think they got at least a double out of Green. He's got good speed, is pretty good running through tackles and on defense, seems to be a pretty sure tackler. The coaches say he's going to try out at RB first and if that doesn't work out, he'll go to defense. Either way, I think NU's last-second ship to Green was a ship well spent. Green is just one of those underrated players that should prove the ratings or lack thereof wrong.
When you look at someone Josh's size, you think tackle, tight end or maybe even a rush end or interior guy on the defensive side. Oh yeah, and running back to. What? Yeah, Josh's year, he played running back because the tight end that was already there was good enough, Josh said that the coach wanted them both to be on the field at the same time. Rushing for over 800 yards, this future All-Everything TE would be honorable mention All-State from the I-back position. That tells you enough right there about what kind of athleticism he has, his ability to move in the open field and it gives you an idea of what he can do after the catch. The speculation here is, can he compete with Matt Herian. Speed-wise, probably not, but Josh's slightly larger frame makes him a little more ideal as a better potential blocking and pass-catching TE. Herian is superb, but Josh would look to be able to put on more weight than Matt while retaining the speed he has as well. Josh should make a great compliment to a great tight end class. Now, all he needs to do is not follow in the footsteps of another touted Nebraska tight end, Chris Septak and just stay healthy.
This kid looks ready to play right now. He's not as big as some of the tight ends NU has or will have, but he's got the frame to get in there and block as well as catch. It's one of his specialties as it is. J.B. is a solid blocker that has good hands to boot. Basically, he's the kind of guy that is dependable. He's not going to make any break-away runs, plus he's not going to be overly elusive with anyone. What J.B. is, is solid and out of the three tight ends, if you take into account the full game, blocking and receiving, he's the one that looks most ready to go right now. Out of any recruiting class, what you want are contributors and the earlier the better. Considering the loss of three tight ends at NU, J.B. could be just that.
As the only recruit at wide-out, you can assume that NU is either loaded at WR/SE or Andy is just that good. Well, it's a little of both. What Andy brings is breakaway speed, plus what I really like about him is his focus on making the catch. In a crowd or all by himself, he doesn't lose track of the ball, doesn't try to run before the ball is in his hands and fundamentally, appears pretty darn sound. His last season at Lincoln Southeast saw him catch 31 balls for almost 750 yards. That is right around 24 yards a catch. Only Matt Herian could better that average for the Huskers this last season and he didn't even have a third of the catches Birkel had. Birkel's size doesn't allow him to work physically against the guy covering him, but he's got the speed to push off in that five yards and go, or just burn right past the guy if he isn't paying attention. With the deep line-up at WR that NU has, you wouldn't see Birkel coming in right away, but his speed could make all that a moot point. When you got speed, you got a place on the field. Andy should do well at NU.
Ryan Schuler - - 6-7, 275, 5.0/40 - Washington high school (Sioux Falls, SD)
Ryan Schuler is an enigma. No, not his ability, but the fact that not only did NU get one of their three de-commits from another school in Shculer, they actually got him from NU's biggest rivals, Oklahoma. All that drama aside though, Ryan is equal to the hype and the hope as he fits what NU linemen are usually all about. Good feet, good hands and is powerful, illustrated well by his almost 400 lbs. bench press. With the suspected increase in the passing game for Nebraska, a tackle that is as good at getting off the ball fast, while squaring his shoulders to the defender quickly will be just as valuable as someone that can pull and block down-field. Schuler offers that potential and should compete early if not to start, at least to get on the field.
Brett Byford - - 6-4, 290, 5.1/40 - Hartselle high school (Hartselle, AL)
Off the field, Byford's calm, courteous and devout nature will lull you into thinking that he can't possibly be that nasty, angry and physical guy on the field that can just move people off the ball and block with a certain tenacity down field. Ok, that's your first mistake. As typical to a lot of football players, what you get on the field and off the field are two entirely different things. In fact, Brett went so far as to say, "On the field, I can be as aggressive as the rest of them." Brett's size puts him at the guard or center position where he finds he is at his best. Able to get leverage and move people around, Brett offers the template for strength and position coaches to make him that typical Nebraska "mauler" everyone expects from someone at Nebraska inside the trenches. Though physically, Brett has a chance to get on the field quickly, he's probably going to end up red-shirting and make his play for some play the year after.
Darin DeLone - - 6-5, 320, 5.0/40 - Mt. San Antonio CC (Walnut, CA)
Touted as one of the better juco offensive linemen in the country, what will be most extreme as DeLone steps on campus will be the expectations for him to get on the field, right now. That's what you expect out of most junior college players and Darin seems to offer the potential for that and then some. His big, fast, has quick feet and good hands, plus he has the experience of the junior college level. With Nebraska questionable at one tackle position and possibly both, depending on what Richie Incognito ends up doing, great tackles that can come in and "get it done" are going to be at a premium. Darin's physical gifts, plus his instincts for the game make him ideal to do just that. Expect DeLone to be at least the top two at one of the tackle positions, if not starting this coming season. And, that is saying alot since he (along with the other junior college guys) don't see the field practicing until Fall.
Greg gets my vote for most underrated player in this year's class. Football players need an attitude. He's got that galore. Offensive linemen need that attitude combined with the ability to finish plays and the other players off. Again, he's got that. Greg is indeed the "mauler" type that Nebraska covets. Not tall on stature, but long on strength and all the fundamentals of someone for the guard or center position. Very quick off the ball, but it comes down to how this guy plays and it's simply "mean". I remember a quote from him that basically sums him up as a player. "You may get by me once, but after that, it's all over for you." That attitude, his physical presence along with the unknown depth at the guard or center position, it offers him at least the potential to get out there right away. And, I don't know about you, but if you can imagine Junior Tagoa'i at LG, Richie Incognito at center and Greg Austin at RG, you might not have the best offensive interior in the country, but I would wager you got one of the nastiest on the planet.
Along with Kade Pittman, Neeman hit the campus early and is enrolled and ready to go. Listed as either a TE or RE, Neeman offers some versatility to play either side. The present TE depth would indicate the best chances for him seeing the field early are there, but that's for the future to decide. Trevor showed pretty well on the defensive side as he was able to fight off blocks and penetrate up-field, but for now, we'll consider him one of the "tweeners" of the class. Red-shirt is imminent and we'll see what he can do after that.
Wali Muhammad - - 6-2, 240, 4.57/40 - Coffeyville CC (Coffeyville, KS)
Another guy that tips the scale when it comes to attitude, Wali also brings a tenacity to find the QB. He did that 22 times in his last year at Coffeyville and is expected to make a strong stab at the starting position, replacing either Chris Kelsay or Demoine Adams. Wal is compact as rush ends go, but his long arms and proverbial motor that doesn't stop make him an ideal candidate for the position. He moves well up field and laterally, such as in backside pursuit. What I really liked about him though was his ability to create good angles at ball carriers while in pursuit. Though he's got the enregy to go all day, he does a good job in making sure he doesn't spend anymore than he has to.
Tall, fairly lanky, long arms with decent speed, Chris offers a nice platform for coaches to build a promising rush end. his 102 tackles llast year combined with 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and six QB hurries might be somewhat skewed because of the small school he came from, but it at least gives you a good idea of how much Patrick is around the ball. He's a red-shirt waiting to happen, but does have the potential to be a very promising player for Nebraska. All he needs is time.
Bo Ruud - - 6-3, 210, 4.6/40 - Lincoln Southeast high school (Lincoln, NE)
Another part of the Ruud legacy, this Ruud offers much of what those offered preceding him. Athleticism and a ferocity for the game. Ruud's accomplishments in high school ran along both sides of the ball, proving just how versatile of an athlete he is. Bo had 1,385 yards and 15 touchdowns as a running back, caught 4 passes for 125 yards and another 2 scores, but Ruud also added 70 tackles, including 51 solos on defense. His size (to me) is what makes him such an intriguing prospect, as though he may be projected at linebacker, he could feesibly play that or even the RE position after time. Depth at MLB isn't good, but should be adequate enough that it won't force Bo into seeing time before he's ready to get in there. I would anticipate a red-shirt year, but Ruud will come out firing after that.
Corey McKeon - - 6-2, 215, 4.5/40 - Naperville North high school (Naperville, IL)
A major pick-up for Nebraska, Corey hit the charts late, but hit them full speed. Good zie, good speed and as you like to see with most linebackers, a nose for the ball. Like the aforementioned Ruue, McKeon saw action on both sides of the ball, once again illustrating his own impressive athleticism. 1,900 all-purpose yards on offense with 22 scores, six interceptions on defense and a safety as well. In the U.S. Army All-American game playing the middle linebacker position, a position he had seldom played in his entire career, Corey still managed to be the QB on defense, while deflecting a pass by Kyle Wright, resulting in an interception. Considering the state of flux of the linebacker positions, at both OLB and SLB, Corey does have a legit shot at seeing the field early. Though you wouldn't like the idea of taking an athlete like Corey and putting him on the field as a back-up, over a season, McKeon could contend for the starting job and establish some solid depth at the position.
Donald DeFrand - - 6-2, 180, 4.25/40 - Dodge City CC (Dodge City CC)
In my estimation, NU hit a home run getting DeFrand. In this day and age, the receivers are getting flat out big. On top of that, they are fast, nimble and can jump a mile in the air. What you need to address this ever-growing mutation is a cornerback who is just as physicall evolved in his own right. Taller, faster and still has the hips and movement to meet the demands of a lock-down cover corner. DeFrand is your guy. He's got all that and how does a sub 4.3 40 do for you to top all that off? Considering the loss of DeJuan Groce and the depth considerations across the board at CB, DeFrand is THE favorite to start opposite Fabian Washington this coming season. And like with all the other JC commits stepping onto campus, the fact that he is coming in during the Fall, it's a statement in and of itself.
The best cover guy on the best team in the biggest division of Texas football. That right there should tell you that this kid can play. He's been called the epitome of what you want in some guy that can take the best receiver the other team has and lock his butt down. The competition is going to be considerably better at the next level, Titus shows the potential to adapt nicely. The one thing stands out about him is being able to sniff out the play as it happens. He's aggressive to the ball and the man, but shows the ability to read the QB on a consistent basis. If he can do that, he may end up neutralizing a lot of what the bigger receivers might be able to do against him initially. As with DeFrand, Brothers is going to be looking at a depth chart that is friendly to those just coming in. And, with the new defensive staff saying that everyone starts at zero, Titus could even make a stab for a higher position, possibly as early as this coming season.
Aside from his obvious physical attributes, Turner has another thing going for him, confidence. He's got the confidence that a player needs to the extent some would call it borderline arrogance. Either way you look at it though, that mentality has served him well to the tune of 140 tackles on defense his senior year along with 4 picks. That's impressive all on it's own, but add 1,500 yards on offense rushing the ball, you have to marvel at the potential of him just from an athletic perspective. I believe Turner and his confidence and on an old note, as we look at the depth of the CB position or lack thereof, he would be assumed to stand as good a shot at getting out there early as anyone else. Given that, we'll give him a 50/50 shot at doing that, but the early bet is on him red-shirting his first year at NU.
Steve Craver - - 6-2, 195, 4.5/40 - L.D. Bell high school (Hurst, TX)
The comparisons to his brother are going to come, but once you see film on Steve, the differences are obvious. As coach Frank Solich stated, Steve is a bit bigger, a bit faster and though his brother, Keyou was physical, it pales in comparison to his younger brother. He's very physical, punishing at the point of impact and has very good athleticism at either getting to the ball or closing on the man. Steve has deceiving speed, as kind of a lanky gallop makes him look like he's going slower than he is, but he still catches guys, still closes on plays and makes him a basic nuisance to the offense. Craver tallied 70 tackles on defense his senior year and made virtually of the "lists" as a prep athlete to watch. At the safety position, Steve could make a pretty good push to get some early playing time. Though there appears some somewhat established depth, at least at starter, it's not established enough to think that someone like Craver couldn't make a push for time of his own. He'll probably red-shirt though if only to cement the depth NU has now.
Kade Pittman - - 6-0, 190, 4.5/40 - North Platte high school (North Platte, NE)
Kade is a very good athlete. Good speed, good side-to-side movement and he's stated as being a very physical hitter. Kade managed to put up over 1,000 yards rushing for North Platte, playing only 7 games, suffering from a partially torn posterior-cruciate ligament. That injury sidelined him and possibly his chances at a scholarship, but NU saw his potential and now, he's a potentially solid contributor for the NU defense. He's a likely red-shirt and we'll see what he can do after he's had a year to learn what the "new" NU defense looks like.
Brandon Teamer - - 6-5, 270, 4.9/40 - Central high school (Omaha, NE)
Another of the in-state studs the Huskers almost always get, Teamer adds some depth to an already deep interior D-line. With that in mind, only health considerations would seem to be the way Teamer sees the field early on in his career, but when he does step on the field for the Huskers, you can expect some good things to happen. One thing that really stands out about Brandon is his ability to fight off blocks in the middle, always keeping his head up and eyes on the play. Able to break off the blocks and pursue, Brandon is good going from side-to-side. I would sum his overall play as "smart", because he does a good job at putting himself into position to make plays and at times, can even play catch-up with the right angles. NU is going to lose some solid talent after the end of next year and there's little doubt Teamer will be one of those heading the class in trying to replace them.
David Dyches - - 6-1, 185 - Westfield high school (Houston, TX)
With the loss of Josh Brown and questions abound as to who will replace him, Nebraska needed one guy to come in to at least appear as that "sure-thing" addition to the kicking staff. That's where David Dyches comes in. Going 31-35 in PATs his senior season along with his longest field goal of the year being 44 yards. He was touted and when it comes to getting offered, kickers don't often find themselves having their choice of where they want to go, but David had that, having schools like Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas and defending national champ, Ohio State to choose from. Some of those teams already had dept and they still offered him. You don't need me to tell you he's good. Those offers prove it enough. Expect Dyches to do just what he hopes to do and that's contend for THE kicking spot this coming season.
Now that we have spun down the guys that are future Huskers, many questions arise about some that aren't going to be at NU. We call them the big losses for NU, because they might indeed have legit shots that Nebraska had to get on campus.
Tommy Zbikowski - His commit to Notre Dame has some saying that this was inevitable, but that's to those that don't know what's really going on. I'll give you might insight on this one and you can take that for what it's worth.
At one point, Notre Dame wasn't first, actually they were third on the list of Nebraska, Iowa and the Irish. Iowa seemed to be the front runner, Tommy having developed a good relationship with Kirk Ferentz. But, there was the QB position which was still looming as an ever-increasing love of Tommy Zs and Nebraska was the only place he was considering for that.
Well, how this all ended was actually in quite a flurry, starting with the U.S. Army All-American game. Tommy played DB, a position he isn't familiar with. And, he played that position well. Actually, very well. So well in fact, it's my contention that Tommy gained the confidence that he knew he could be a starting player on defense and at that point wasn't so sure of his certainty at doing that at QB. Because of that, his affection for the position might still have been there, but it waned in comparison to the reality of what position would get him on the field earlier and more often.
And the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was Kirk Ferentz refusing to give Tommy a straight answer on whether he was heading to Jacksonville for the head coaching position or not. Because of that, Iowa fell down the charts, he had already relegated the QB position to a "wish" rather than a realistic desire and wham, bam, It's the Z-man heading to the Irish.
His sister was a huge NU fan, his sister's husband had advised him that NU would be a good place to go and even his mom appeared to have some pro-NU blood surging through her veins. His dad was all ND, but I would say that in this case of ND vs. NU, it wasn't the parents that made ND the team in the end, rather the situations that unfolded in the end.
Walter Washington - Considering the ineffectiveness of Jammal Lord late in the season, the health of Curt Dukes and the uncertainty behind just how effective Mike Stuntz could be, Washington's JUCO experience plus his experience in the option offense made him ideal for NU to bring in and help to push Lord and possibly bring in someone that could both run and throw with equal effectiveness.
In truth, I think Walter was NU's to lose, but lose they did. When it came down to crunch time when NU's offense was in flux, having no offensive coordinator at the time, it was the father of Walter Washington that contended that all NU had to do was answer some simple questions as to what NU's future was going to be offensively, but no answers came. Because of that uncertainty, both Walter and his father made the decision that they would go where they knew things were likely to be just the way they had gotten used to seeing, thus Washington eventually becoming a Temple Owl.
Carnell Stewart - With the depth on the interior defensive line, NU wasn't considered desperate for more players at the position. That being said, if there is a flat out stud out there that has some serious interest in Nebraska, you go after them. Carnell was a player that fit that mold. On top of that, NU was a childhood favorite. There seemed to be the potential for NU to get Stewart, only one thing happened. "The coaches just stopped getting in contact with me." Stewart said. A move that prompted this highly recruited player to focus his attention elsewhere. And, when late in the season Nebraska started re-recruiting him, it turned out to be too little, too late. The thing is, you never want to leave yourselves questions like "what if", especially with standouts like Stewart. Unfortunately, that's about all the fans can have right now.
Lance Broadus - Before you say it, let me just say that the one de-commit Nebraska had was a loss, but was he Nebraska's to lose. From the outset, Lance was looking to stay close to home, yet he committed to Nebraska anyway. A better situation maybe, easier chance to get on the field right away or whatever. No matter though, that still didn't make Nebraska any close to California and let's face it, some just don't like the snow. The coaches didn't lose this one, the state of Nebraska did. So, don't blame anything but geography.
Enough of the lamenting over those not Huskers to be, let's look at some of what Nebraska did to take those that wanted to be here so bad, they said no to other schools.
Chris Patrick's saga is just that. A commit to Wisconsin resulting in a de-commit. He then committed to Purdue and yep, de-committed. It didn't seem that he could ever find the right place for him, but eventually, he did just that when his last commit was the one that put him where he ultimately decided to be. What got him to that point was one thing. Honesty. That's what Chris's dad said all along they didn't seem comfortable with as what they got during the process and what they got once the process was supposedly finished, well they were two different things. Nebraska has done a lot of things in the recruiting process, but because they didn't go where some other schools seem to not only tread but live, it got them this standout rush end at the conclusion.
Joe Dailey saw just about everything at Syracuse he wanted to see. Well, except for one thing. "They just didn't seem like they wanted the championships." Dailey said. "At Nebraska, that's all they want." That kind of attitude to win the whole thing instead of just enough to keep the fans' appetite slated is easy when you go to a place where the fans' appetite is for nothing but titles, so Dailey fits in well. I wouldn't look at Dailey so much as a steal from Syracuse though as much as I would see this as Dailey just deciding on what was ultimately more important. Sure, he could have had a lot of comfort so close to home, friends and family available to frequent almost all of his games and an atmosphere that he has become intimately familiar. Or, he could have gone farther, but found a place where the best was going to be demanded from a team that demanded it from him, because their goals didn't lie on a conference scale, but a national one, year in and year out.
Ryan Schuler might be dubbed the "steal of the year". Yes, he's a great player, but that's not the reason. The reason being that NU didn't just get a de-commit, they got one from the University of Oklahoma. Ahh, the long-time rival and oft-timed pain in the butt, Sooners that gave legendary Tom Osborne fits, over a quarter of his losses coming at the hands of this conference nemesis. Despite the victories in recent history and those overwhelming stompings during the "Blake Era", any victory over OU is valued. Thus, Nebraska got themselves a big-time player, but in a time where Moral Victories are actually considered distasteful, this one tastes (to NU fans) better than the finest wine available.
The best of times, the worst of times
Sorry, couldn't resist actually using that, but it's appropriate as I harken back over the season that was in recruiting, thinking of the good, the bad and the oh-so-ugly. Times were sometimes good and sometimes, well, I'd trade them for an Edsel, even a Yugo.
As always, the best part of this job, at least for me are the relationships I develop over that time. The conversations with recruits and their parents, it's not something you can put a price on. You can't imagine how many conversations that could have lasted five minutes, have extended into hour long back and forths about football, recruiting and life in general. From the Zbikowskis to the Byfords, from the Daileys to Patricks, what we share amidst the process is sometimes more important than anything that actual process can offer. That's always the best part for me.
Answering machines - Yes, that's right. Amidst all the calls I make, I have gotten to hear some of the most interesting messages that you can imagine. Joe Thomas' family has without a doubt the "perkiest" message I have ever heard, while some messages enlightened me more than perhaps I would have liked. I commented to Donald DeFrand that his choice of music on his message was nice and all, but after about twenty calls, I was ready to hear something new. No, that wasn't going to happen as the "Nappy Dreads" were a little of Florida and he was trying to keep it alive. So, remember, Nappy Dreads. That's right, Nappy Dreads. By the way, is that how you spell, Dreads?
What do you do when you got a player out in the open and he doesn't see you coming? - This is a question I ask of guys on both sides of the ball and let me tell you, it gets some pretty great responses. A few years ago, a player told me that he liked to hit people so hard, he would knock himself out and this year's responses weren't too far off.
When I asked Ryan Schuler what he thought when he saw a defender coming up for a tackle that didn't see him coming to make the block, he stated what his mindset was right before impact. "Your eyes just light up. That's why pulling is so great. You get to put it on someone when they aren't expecting it."
Earl Everett told me, "There's nothing like it. It's highlight time. You just put your shoulder down and try and take them out."
There's also those questions about attitude that a player has to have to be successful that bring some rather colorful responses.
Chris Patrick - "You have to go out thinking that you are the baddest son of a bitch out there."
Greg Austin - "You may get by me once, but after that, it's all over for you."
Titus Brothers - "You don't want to talk too much smack, but you have to let your guy know that he's not going to beat you. You get it in his head and let him know it's going to be a long day."
Ryan Schuler - "You basically just have to out there and think that you are going to kick the guy's ass across from you, is the bottom line." Ryan said. "Getting it handed to you is just something I am not going to accept."
That's just some of the "attitude" Husker fans can expect from a few of their up and comers and as everyone else knows, ability is great, speed is mandatory and heart is a definite necessity, but if you have that attitude to go with it all, you don't just dominate, you intimidate as well.
What they think and what is reality - If there is one thing I have always been frustrated with is the ratio of calls made to connections made. That being, how many times I picked up that phone in comparison to how many times I actually got to talk to the person I was trying for. Heck, both Jeremy and myself could have done a couple hundred more updates than we did if we wanted to quote parents, coaches, uncles, brothers and their nine-year old little sister. The problem I have is that unless you get it straight from the recruit, in the end, it's second-hand information and ultimately unreliable. So, you call and you call and unbeknownst to those that think we pick up the phone eight times and reach eight recruits, it's more like calling twenty to reach two. Believe it or not, sometimes that's understating it. It's the typical game of "catch" and though we are considering recruiting hounds by some, sometimes it seems like we are the proverbial horse following that ever-uncatchable carrot.
Predictions and Percentages - You find one person on this planet that can predict with 100% accuracy what a teenager is going to do in three months or even three days, I will show you the future of recruiting coverage. It's impossible, yet on a daily basis, we are asked to give our thoughts as to where a kid is going to end up and on top of that, what's the percentage of him ending up at NU. Is it 50/50, 70/30 or what? A percentage is a copout. Though I might ride the fence in my opinions about this or that, a percentage is the ultimate way to divert yourself from saying he's going here or there. You could say that it's 90% in NU's favor, but you have still left some margin for error. I think I got one prediction right the entire year and what do you know, he ended up de-committing. Ok, I'm understating my accuracy, but it's just damn near impossible, even after twenty conversations to figure out what some are going to do. Honestly, I think I would have better luck taking their list of favorites, sticking them on a dart board and whichever one I hit first, there's my prediction for where he goes. Honestly, the percentage of accuracy probably wouldn't be that much worse.
Experts - In recruiting, there is only ONE THING that makes you an expert. Only one. It doesn't matter how good you are at predicting. It doesn't matter how much information you have from other sources. In this business, only one thing makes you an expert at being a recruiting analyst. That's the ability to review film accurately. In my estimation, there are a handful out there that can do it. Fortunately, I am honored to say I work with the likes of Jamie Newberg that I believe really know what they are doing and guys like Max Emfinger and Tom Lemming that have been around so long, you would have to assume that they know what they are talking about. Take everything else away, that's the bottom line. You have to know what you are looking at on film in order to be a real expert. Everyone else is just pretending. Being an expert has nothing to do with figuring out where someone is going to go. Being an expert has nothing to do with knowing what a player "means" when he says this or that. It's about figuring who has what and how much it compares to the other player at that position or perhaps, across the board. Me? I'm a hack who has watched some film here and there. No way am I am expert. I just try to explain to the best of my ability what I see. Before you go labeling this person or that an expert at anything, why don't you step back and think about why you say that. Do they really know on their own or are they simply going off of something someone else has done or given them? Experts are truly rare, so I hate it when there seems to be so many, yet in the end, so very few actually end being even close to marginally correct.
Rumors - Ahhh yes, the rumor. The harbinger of all that is bad about the internet. If you want to point to one major reason that the internet is considered the home of mis-information or dis-information, look no further than the rumor. That unqualified remark stating this or that, that results in a boom of activity, but by the end of it all, what you get is nothing. As a recruiting hound, I have to follow many of these up if they have to do with Nebraska and let me give you an example of a conversation I had not so long ago as I followed up one of these stories that weren't stories to begin with.
Me: "Hey, this is Steve Ryan, how are you doing?"
Recruit: "Not bad, how are you?"
Me: "Well, I am sure you have gotten a lot of this lately, but this is my job, so I have to follow this up."
Recruit: "What rumor is it this time."
Me: (laughing) "Well, since you are ahead of me already, I guess I will just ask how solid your commit is."
Recruit: "It's solid. I'm not going anywhere else. Not Wisconsin, not Michigan, not Nebraska. I never said I was even looking, so I don't know how these things get started."
And neither do I. Well, actually I do. They are started to create controversy, which creates traffic, which could ultimately end up in increased revenue on a sparse scale for some, but if enough rumors are started, enough dung is flung about, heck, rumor-starting could be down right lucrative. That's the problem with rumors though. People say they hate them, but most are so guillible, they will buy into every single one they read. I'm not innocent of that. Some because my business forces me to track these down if applicable, but like modern society, I love a mystery and the more outlandish it seems, the more interested I get.
Ultimately, rumors will only get worse and it's not because people want them, but they can't resist them, so if you think you can make money off of it, why stop? That football site that is literally based on rumors about this or that in regards to coaching changes or whatever, they have a cemented future, simply because people like controversy. Sure, they may tell you that they hate it, can't stand it and look for those place that practice telling it like it is. In the end though, they are just like anyone else (myself included) and you also go where you find something that either shocks or surprises you.
Actually, the internet is simply following mainstream media which gave birth to publications like the National Enquirer and shows like A Current Affair. It all comes down to people trying to sift through the garbage and sadly, in this business, there is a lot of that around.
In the end - Hey, we were a nobody site. The new comer. Yes, I date back to the original Rivals, but this site has undergone a Metamorphosis from one existence to another and then, another. We are the yappy little dog at the ankles of the big dog, if only for a scrap from the table.
Well, this yappy dog kept biting long enough and hard enough to be an annoyance to even those seemingly beyond our reach. In our first year, HuskerConnection went from an idea to a legit site with credible, timely and most importantly, accurate information. Not bad for the first year out of the gate, eh?
fellow recruiting hound, Jeremy M in his first year, shined. Short, concise tid-bits that gave people an idea that I couldn't give them, all the information they wanted and in less than twenty pages. He took to it hard and well and proceeded to improve more his first year of doing this far more than I did in mine. He's still learning how to make an interview a conversation, but aside from that, he's got the foundation to build a very good reputation at this.
Kim is the man that made my computer mistakes but an afterthought. With nothing in return but our gratitude, his graphics, his logo and his ideas helped keep HC rolling and he brought some inovation to the fray as well. He has been invaluable in what he has done for HuskerConnection. It is what it is partly because of his efforts.
Out of the years of doing this, I have learned some things along the way. I even accepted the idea of premium information. Believe me, those who know me know how much I was against this idea of content for a price type of stuff. So, I thought that if I was going to do it, I would try and give something to people that I myself would pay for. Exclusives are nice and we did get our share of those. A deluge of information is great and at times, we flung it on there with the best of them. What's more important than all of that though is whatever information you provide, make sure it's the most accurate information available. In this business, much of what you provide is speculation, but from reports, quotes and "sources", you provide information to people that are paying for it. You have a responsibility to make sure it's right. We haven't always been right and I will be the first to admit that, but I'm proud of our record to date.
My time spent thinking back to our first year of recruiting coverage on HC and I have to remind myself that we started covering recruiting way late in the game, well, it's been a lot of what I remember, both good and bad. More than that though, it's been a success. Yes, much of our success is measured in total subscribers, but considering where we started, the two-man team we have to supply virtually everything on recruiting and even football, I would have to say that this debut or in my case, re-debut went off pretty well.
With one year under our belts, I am excited about the future, because we have gotten our feet wet again, made our own statement as to what we do and how we do it and frankly, that has me positive about what's to come.
So, to you, I thank you for your patience, time and ability to read my stories in one sitting and want to remind you that recruiting season lasts all year. Yes, I know your interest is about as low as it can get right now, still throbbing from a recruiting season just finished, but there's always more to come, always recruits that will find a home and a team that needs them there and we will be there, following, covering and evaluating, bringing it all to you in the end.
So, for HuskerConnection, this has been Steve Ryan and this has been your year-end edition of TAKE ONE.
Next year? TAKE TWO!
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619