Nebraska football fans are annually tortured by the slow, grueling process of collecting Husker commitments. Never the one off to a quick start, the Big Red makes its living on the recruiting trail by leaning on campus visits and personal experiences of Husker game days to secure fall commitments.
So falling behind in the Big Ten recruiting race is of little concern.
However, Nebraska has not just “fallen behind." It has hardly left the starting block, and many teams are entering the backstretch.
Nebraska’s deficit in the recruiting tables is increasing and beginning to outgrow the typical, reassuring responses of Husker Nation.
Normally, early recruiting struggles are greeted with optimism. Fans remind each other of how poorly Joe Ganz was rated when he committed to play at Nebraska and how celebrated Marlon Lucky’s arrival in Lincoln was.
And they are right.
Despite the obvious importance of recruiting in sustaining the program’s success, recruits often do not reflect the star rating assigned to them by recruiting services, as 5-stars can struggle to secure starting spots by their senior season and 2-stars receive all-conference honors and head for the National Football League.
It happens all the time.
So fans would do well to fight the temptation to lose sleep over the difference between the 20th recruiting class in the nation and the 15th. After all, how well players fit the system and how capable coaches are of coaching up talent is far more important than minute differences in recruit ratings.
But here lies the problem.
Nebraska is not losing the recruiting race by a couple of places. It is not nipping Ohio State’s and Michigan’s heels. No, the Huskers are being blown away.
The latest 2014 recruiting rankings have the Big Red at 10th in the conference, trailing the likes of Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Meanwhile, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State have received at least five times more commitments than Nebraska.
It may not be time to panic just yet. Many months stand between the Huskers’ current lowly recruiting tally and National Signing Day next spring.
But if the stagnancy of Nebraska’s recruiting does not change soon, the time for the Big Red faithful to worry will swiftly be upon us.