The Nebraska Cornhuskers have almost everything a prospective player could wish for in a collegiate football program. Top-tier coaching staff, tradition of excellence, history of NFL exports, impeccable facilities, extremely loyal fan base. Nebraska has it all, almost.
The biggest stumbling block for Nebraska in luring the best talent is the one thing it cannot control: its national reputation.
Maybe it is the east coast bias. Maybe it is the Cornhusker mascot. Heck, maybe it is ESPN’s horrifically stereotypical montages of cornfields and tractors that grace the screen prior to every Nebraska game.
Whatever the cause, the national perception of the state of Nebraska clearly manifests itself in the preconceived notions that football recruits have regarding what might await them at the University of Nebraska.
Lucky for Husker Nation, this problem is frequently overcome by recruiting visits that easily dispel these false expectations. And the results show.
Last summer, Terrell Newby was very close to committing to Cal when Nebraska coach Rich Fisher persuaded him to make his visit to Lincoln before making any official decision.
Months later, in his statement announcing his commitment to Nebraska, Mike Matya and Nate Clouse of HuskersOnline.com reported him saying,
“Coach Fisher was the one who really started recruiting me for Nebraska. He followed me and talked me into taking my unofficial visit up there, and without that this never would have happened.”
And Newby was hardly the only one to pull a 180 following his visit to Lincoln.
Clouse also quoted defensive end recruit Randy Gregory describing his own experience at Nebraska:
“It was more than I expected honestly…. It's a football friendly town so just to see all of that with the atmosphere and the fan base was the best thing.”
While local recruits certainly know what to expect in Lincoln, a visit can do wonders for prospective players from far away.
Nebraska can do nothing to change the national perception of the state that leaves many recruits expecting a university surrounded by cornfields and cattle.
But everything in their control is being orchestrated beautifully.
Evidenced by this year’s haul, Husker recruits may enter with false notions of what life is like in Lincoln.
After a weekend though, they see the rich football culture, second-to-none facilities and the friendly college town that makes the University of Nebraska an often hidden gem on the college football landscape.