The recruiting dead period has been anything but for Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and his staff.
Not only are the new Husker coaches finalizing preparations — at this stage, from Atlanta — as Central Florida closes in on Jan. 1’s Peach Bowl against Auburn, but they are also busy formulating a recruiting strategy for the stretch run between now and Feb. 7’s National Signing Day.
Nebraska, of course, signed 12 players during the early signing period and has two more verbal commitments.
With about five spots remaining in the class but, based on Frost’s Dec. 20 teleconference, the expectation that the Huskers take roughly seven to nine more players, the coaching staff has been looking far and wide for players who can help.
During the dead period, coaches can have written communication with prospects but cannot have face-to-face interactions on campus, at high schools or in prospects’ homes. But those limitations, bowl game prep and the holiday week have barely slowed Frost and company.
The Huskers have extended more than 10 scholarship offers in the past week and several are already lining up visits for after the dead period ends, when there will be four weekends to host prospects in Lincoln.
Frost made strong statements on Dec. 20 about the way he thought the Huskers could finish off his class and also where he feels the roster needs the most attention, naming depth and wide receiver and defensive back as top priorities due to significant player shortages.
At receiver, NU should return the dynamic JD Spielman and talented Tyjon Lindsey. Barring an early entry to the NFL Draft, Stanley Morgan makes that trio a potentially explosive one. Add in, too, freshman Jaevon McQuitty, who redshirted in 2017 after injuring his knee. Otherwise, there’s Bryan Reimers, Keyan Williams and Conor Young.
The Huskers have already landed a speedster in Jaron Woodyard (Arizona Western Community College) and a big-body target in Justin McGriff (Tampa, Florida), but clearly are not done looking to add. They had scholarship offers out to several players who did not sign early, including Dominick Watt (Miramar, Florida), who recently named NU in his top six schools and is likely to visit in January. In the past week, they’ve offered at least five more, including former USC commit Andre Hunt, four-star players Chris Olave and Solomon Enis (Phoenix), and three-stars Delon Hurt (Anaheim, California) and John Jackson III (Gardena, California).
Cornerback is at least as important.
The Huskers have just five, and that’s if you include freshman Avery Anderson and walk-on Jeremiah Stovall.
Sure, sophomores Eric Lee and Lamar Jackson and redshirt freshman Dicaprio Bootle played a lot this fall, but that depth simply has to be addressed.
Frost started with a junior-college prospect with three years of eligibility in Deontai Williams (Jones County), who has played safety the past several years but seems destined for corner at NU.
This is where the decommitments from the class Mike Riley had built hurt the most, though, or at least leave the new staff with the most work to do. With Brendan Radley-Hiles, Chase Williams and Mario Goodrich out of the picture, defensive back recruiting has essentially started over.
Look for NU to try to stay after four-star Taiyon Palmer (Lawrenceville, Georgia) and three-stars Chris Mills (Converse, Texas) and Braxton Clark (Orlando, Florida) and potentially get them to campus in January. All three had offers before signing day and are still available, despite Mills being verbally committed to Missouri and Clark to Virginia Tech.
Elsewhere, Nebraska is looking at linemen on both sides of the ball, pass-rushers and perhaps more backfield help. New Jersey standout outside linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste (Oradell, New Jersey) was one of the first offers the staff gave and is still available, making him a likely priority. NU could get a visit out of Atlanta offensive lineman Hamilton Hall and has offered additional tackles in Doug Johnson (Fort White, Florida), Blake McDonald (Danville, California) and Alabama decommit Jarret Bell (Norco, California) in recent days. On the other side of the ball, they’ve reached out to Jamarcus Chatman (Rome, Georgia) and Moro Ojomo (Katy, Texas) even since Christmas and have older offers out to players such as defensive end Jaevon Becton (Virginia Beach, Virginia) and Dennis Briggs Jr. (Kissimmee, Florida).
NU doesn't appear done trying to add at running back, offering four-star Rahmir Johnson (Oradell, New Jersey) and three-star Ta'Zahwn Henry (Houston) in the past week after signing Greg Bell (Arizona Western) on Dec. 20.
Put simply, it’s going to be active virtually every day until Feb. 7.
Where exactly the wheel stops spinning remains to be seen, but NU’s actions on the recruiting trail back up Frost’s words. Expect the Husker coaches to continue looking for several players on the offensive and defensive perimeter, and then opportunities to add talent in more limited fashion on the interiors.