Nebraska Football: Scott Frost Gaining, Retaining More Elite Talent Than Seen in Decades

Frost's culture is creating a welcoming environment fostering long-term commitments from top recruits

The most casual of college football observers have an opinion of Scott Frost today, the majority of them intense. After speaking out against the Big Ten's decision to postpone the conference's 2020 football season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were recently dressed down by national pundits Michael Wilbon, Desmond Howard, and Pat Forde to name a few.

 

Regardless, vocal contingents backing Nebraska’s wishes continue to emphatically press the league to reverse its ruling. Eight current players filed a lawsuit demanding answers as to why this verdict was rendered at the very least. As a result, some new information about how the Big Ten became embroiled in its current controversy has come to light.

 

 

Frost’s less-than-impressive record in Lincoln was a key focus during more innocent times, but those concerns are on pause. A lively discussion about when or if Nebraska can again be part of a College Football Playoff bid will return someday.

 

In the meantime, Frost is multi-tasking. As he rallies for live competition in the near future, he does so while continuing to build his culture and a roster capable of meeting his expectations.

 

He has a distinct knack for signing high-caliber recruits and keeping most in the fold. Frost does this so well that you'd have to go back to the Big Red's most recent national championship days to find a similar level of success. Using metrics from 247Sports, Nebraska fan/statistics junkie Jeff Luther helps present evidence of this.

 

Looking over the quality of classes signed during the past three Nebraska head coaching eras, Frost boasts the best ranking on average at 20th nationally. Mike Riley's classes checked in at 26th and Bo Pelini's is 28th.

 

Digging deeper using individual recruit ratings of the 247Sports Composite Index, Frost's three groups of signees totaled 75 players, 23 of those being 4-star prospects. This averages out to almost eight per haul. Riley logged the same number of classes when he was the Huskers’ head man but only averaged five 4-star signatures each year. During Pelini's seven National Signing Day experiences, he gained 39 such recruits (5.5 per class).

 

Some Big Red fans feel more comfortable not studying up on future possible Huskers until they report to campus. It's admittedly more of a gut-punch to become invested in potential superstars only to see them quickly depart.

 

Frost's history in avoiding this pitfall since being brought on by Bill Moos is striking. Doubting this skill isn't currently justified despite two prominent representatives of the 2020 class moving on in Floridian defensive backs Henry Gray and Jaiden Francois. Nearly 83 percent of his best acquisitions remain on the current roster. Only Maurice Washington and Cam'ron Jones — both members of Frost's 2018 transition class — join Gray and Francois as departures.

 

Compare this to Riley and Pelini's rate of top-tier additions. A noteworthy decline develops. Of Riley's 15 most elite signees, 10 eventually transferred out or never arrived. All six that inked with his most decorated 2017 bunch would eventually move on. Clearly Frost and Riley's views clashed, and as a result, we see why it’s tough to properly evaluate his classes for our purposes. Any eventual vision the latter had lacked the time necessary to materialize for players he brought in due to his subpar performance and lack of overall support.

 

That said, Pelini had a trust similar to Frost's yet could only claim 59 percent of the four-star recruits he signed sticking around for the duration, as 16 of 39 left during his watch.

 

Class Year Head Coach National Class Rank
(247Sports)
# of Composite
4-Stars Signed
# Departed
2008 Pelini 24th 3 1
2009 Pelini 40th 4 3
2010 Pelini 26th 5 2
2011 Pelini 16th 9 5
2012 Pelini 32nd 8 3
2013 Pelini 22nd 7 2
2014 Pelini 35th 3 0
2015 Riley 30th 4 2
2016 Riley 26th 5 2
2017 Riley 23rd 6 6
2018 Frost 23rd 6 2
2019 Frost 17th 7 0
2020 Frost 20th 10 2

 

With only two seasons in the books and a third up in the air, the actual development of these players and how this translates to improving Frost's record remains an unknown. But even amid uncertainty surrounding the entirety of college football, Nebraska is reasserting itself as a tempting destination for top recruits.

 

After these prospects were sold on what the Huskers program can offer overall, their commitment has been predominantly rock solid. Nebraska is still but one voice among 14 others in the Big Ten; how the 2020 season has been handled behind closed doors has empowered them to amplify it. By continuing to stockpile better talent and gain its trust in a project that requires patience, Frost betters the odds he can strengthen the most important part of any recruiting pitch: winning.

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces). To contact him, click here.

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