Nebraska Football Recruiting: Why Bo Pelini Needs to Focus Energy in the South

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Nebraska Football Recruiting: Why Bo Pelini Needs to Focus Energy in the South
DAVE WEAVER/Associated Press

With national signing day in the past, the focus has now shifted to recruiting the 2015 class. And much like he did for the 2014 class, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini needs to focus his energy in the South.

It's no secret that he needs to spend more time in Big Ten country. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are three states he could do more heavy recruiting out of.

While Pelini could start recruiting more in those states, there really is no need to.

In the past, Nebraska recruited heavily in a "500-mile radius" surrounding Lincoln, Neb. Since Pelini took over, that has changed.

The 2014 class is comprised of athletes from 13 different states. Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star broke down the recruits by state: Texas (4), Nebraska (3), Florida (3), Louisiana (3), Illinois (2), Missouri (2), with one each from Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, Nevada, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama.

At first glance, SEC territory seems to get a lot of attention from the Huskers. With the type of recruits that come from the South, that's not a bad strategy either. However, Pelini claims there really isn't a strategy to certain states.

Pelini made that clear during his national signing day press conference:

You just don’t know where they’re going to come from. We recruit areas. We recruit a little bit by position as it moves on. It just so happens we got a pretty good group from the Southeast (this year). It changes.

That doesn't stop fans from questioning whether or not he will always be more focused in the South. Many want to see him recruiting more in the Big Ten. After all, Pelini has defeated Penn State three times since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Two of those wins came in Happy Valley.

With that said, Pennsylvania kids likely know about Nebraska. The Huskers have obviously made a statement with wins on their home turf.

Additionally, Ohio typically has more talent than Ohio State and Urban Meyer can take. While the Buckeyes had nine signed letters of intent from in-state kids, there are plenty talented players looking for a place to play. That's where fans think Pelini should step in.

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But does Pelini need to put more focus there? The answer is no.

The hiring secondary coach Charlton Warren gives Nebraska roots in the South. Warren will be able to give the Huskers an edge in states like Georgia in the future.

Plus, Pelini seems to be finding the players he needs in the South, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In the 2014 class, quite a few of the defensive backs and defensive ends hailed from southern states, per Rivals.com. Those were positions that needed some attention and help, too.

Looking at the 2015 class, it seems likely that Pelini will continue to put focus in the South. In fact, he's already picked up a commit from Louisiana.

One of the top grabs, as reported by Sam McKewon of the Omaha World Herald, is Isidore Newman running back Kendall Bussey. As McKewon noted, the New Orleans "doesn't have the flashiest ratings yet. But should he stay healthy, don't worry, he will."

It looks like Louisiana will continue to be a point of focus for Pelini. With experience at LSU, the coach knows the area and knows the kids, as he told the Lincoln Journal Star's Christopherson:

There’s a lot of talent in New Orleans and obviously I have some contacts down there. They play good football and they’re good, hard-working type kids. You look at Cethan and some of the kids we’ve gotten out of Louisiana, we’ve had some pretty good success down there and hopefully that will continue.

So fans can expect more attention to be aimed at the South. While Pelini could still hit the Big Ten recruiting trail, he's shown it's not his top priority. That's not to say a few recruits may not end up from Pennsylvania, Ohio or Michigan—it just means Pelini won't be putting all of his attention there.

Pelini may not know exactly where the dots on the map will fall for future classes, but it seems like a sure bet that plenty will end up in the South.

After all, if it's not broke, why fix it?

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