It hasn’t been a good week for Nebraska football recruiting, with NU missing out on a number of impact prospects and junior college targets (according to Sam McEwon of the Omaha World-Herald). Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has taken more than a little grief from the Children of the Corn (including one particularly smart and handsome analyst) for his recruiting prowess.
But Pelini has a number of strong cards in his recruiting hand to play. Here are five of Pelini’s best pitches as recruiting season continues in earnest. (You’ll have to provide the voice, my Pelini impersonation is terrible.)
Nebraska is in desperate need of help on the offensive and defensive lines. Against Wisconsin in the B1G title game, Nebraska’s lack of quality in those two crucial areas (particularly defensive line) was fully exposed in the Badgers' 70-31 demolition of NU. That should be a strong incentive for offensive and defensive linemen looking at Nebraska—playing time should be readily available.
Ndamukong Suh. Prince Amukamura. Alfonzo Dennard. Roy Helu. Niles Paul. Alex Henery. Those are just the most prominent of Pelini’s charges that are now starters or strong contributors on NFL rosters. For prospects looking to hone their craft and play football at the highest (and most well compensated) level, Pelini has a number of alums to point at.
Under second-year offensive coordinator Tim Beck, Nebraska’s offense has grown into a potent force. Beck has harnessed the extraordinary athletic ability of quarterback Taylor Martinez, surrounded him with dangerous skill players like Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner, and crafted an offense that can compete on a national level. And he’s done this with an offensive line that, put charitably, is of average quality.
Consider that in Nebraska’s three losses, NU scored 30, 38 and 31 points. Absent defensive collapses, that offensive output should be enough to win most games. So any offensive player should be licking his chops at the chance to play in such a scheme.
The Big Ten Network is a huge boon for a school like Nebraska, which is not blessed with tremendous in-state talent and has to recruit nationally. In trying to get prospects out of far-flung locations like Texas, Ohio or California, one selling point is that all of Nebraska’s games will be on the BTN.
The conference’s addition of Rutgers and Maryland, and the likely expansion of the network into the biggest media markets on the east coast, only expands the reach of the BTN and the persuasiveness of this particular pitch.
Nebraska fans are remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the 325-game home sellout streak dating back to Nov. 3, 1962. But while a rabid fanbase has a number of positives, and a few negatives, it is how the Children of the Corn travel that may be the most remarkable.
Consider Nebraska’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. this season. With 8:31 left in the game, Northwestern led Nebraska 28-16. But Nebraska mounted a furious comeback, and took a 29-28 lead with 2:08 left to play.
Northwestern had a chance to score and re-take the lead. But in its way, as Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times, was a hostile crowd that forced the Purples to use a silent count because of its noise.
A silent count. A hostile crowd. Remember, Northwestern was the home team in this game.
That’s what the Children of the Corn can do. And it can be a powerful recruiting tool for a number of prospects looking to spend their college years in Lincoln, Neb.
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