The move from Central Florida to Nebraska put a few more high school football players in play for the new Nebraska coaches to recruit and coach that they probably weren’t going to get at UCF, but can at a program like Nebraska.
One of those players is Cam Taylor, a defensive back from Montgomery, Alabama, who signed with the Huskers on Wednesday.
Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said it’s not fun when you see a high school player and you really like him, but you know you don’t have much of a chance to get him.
That’s how it was for Chinander with Taylor. That is, until Chinander joined the Huskers, and then it was different.
“And then all of a sudden you get this unbelievable chance to be at Nebraska, and you get a chance to recruit these guys, and they’re really excited about it,” Chinander said. “I fell in love with that kid, and a lot of kids earlier, and I was like, ‘Man, I wish we had a chance to get these guys.’ And then all of a sudden we did. So it was really cool.”
After it was announced Scott Frost was coming to Nebraska, Chinander said Taylor was one of the first calls he made representing Nebraska. Chinander told Taylor that he was going to have a different school name on his polo shirt the next time he visited him at his high school. Taylor asked what school he was at now, and he told him Nebraska.
“He’s like, ‘I’m in. I think I got to come see it, I love that place,'” Chinander said.
The coaches had to work hard to put a recruiting class together after Frost was named head coach on Dec. 2. Chinander said a lot of the players who ended up signing with the Huskers were contacted within a few hours of when the coaches were allowed to recruit for Nebraska.
Chinander thinks that Nebraska was able to get players who fit the program well, and who the coaches want to be around.
“A big part of our recruiting process at UCF and Oregon and anywhere we’ve ever been with Scott has been evaluations of person,” Chinander said. “I don’t care what a kid is ranked. Now it’s always cool to get a four-star and a five-star guy, there is no doubt about it, but I need to see it with my own eyes, and if I like that kid better than the five-star guy, then we’re going to take that kid. And I think that’s what makes Scott who he is; we trust our evaluations, and I think we’re better evaluators than a lot of people.”
Chinander spoke to reporters after a National Signing Day event on Wednesday evening for donors and season ticket holders at the Rococo Theatre.
Other full-time assistant coaches there were Troy Walters, Barrett Rudd, Mario Verduzco, Mike Dawson, Ryan Held and Greg Austin. The coaches made their way around the room introducing themselves to fans.
Frost was attending a private event in Omaha with athletic director Bill Moos and a few other coaches.
Dawson, the defensive line coach, said it had been a crazy few months recruiting. In one stretch, Dawson was in seven states in five days.
“For this class to be as good as it is, and to have as many good players in it, to get that done in the six or eight weeks, while playing a bowl game on Jan. 1 with another team, I think is pretty strong testament to Coach Frost,” Dawson said.
Earlier in the day at a news conference Frost talked at length about how proud he was of what the staff had done, both coaching UCF to one more win and an undefeated season, while also recruiting for Nebraska.
Chinander said there were times when he was exhausted and questioned doing both jobs, but he also takes pride in what they accomplished.
“The way it ended up, the way we could finish it off for those kids at UCF and for those fans down there, and then kind of enter into Nebraska for the fans here and the program here, I think it worked out tremendously and I’m very proud of what we accomplished,” Chinander said.
The assistant coaches each told the fans about each of the players who signed. Held, the running back coach, talked about the two running back signees, Greg Bell and Maurice Washington. Held said he watched a lot of junior college running backs, and Held felt like Bell was the best in the country.
Held was also thrilled to get Washington, who announced his decision Wednesday.
“It was big for us to get (Washington) because he’s a home-run threat,” Held said. “And the running back position at Nebraska historically has been a huge position and a position of strength, so getting these two guys we feel like will help get us back to where it’s running back U at Nebraska.”