Assistant coach Ross Els, Nebraska’s recruiting coordinator, spoke to Husker fans Friday morning at the Big Red Breakfast and spent the majority of his time talking about NU’s strategies for luring prospective athletes to Lincoln.
We’ll have plenty more in the Metro edition of The World-Herald. But for now, here are the highlights from Els’ hour-long talk Friday:
>> Nebraska’s shooting for a 2013 recruiting class in the “low-to-mid 20s,” Els said. Fourteen have made nonbinding commitments. The biggest areas of need, according to Els: OL, DL, TE and DB. But no spot is off-limits. “There isn’t a position we’re not recruiting in this class,” Els said.
>> Els confirmed that there are, at this point, 23 recruits who plan to be on hand for Nebraska’s Sept. 29 game against Wisconsin (19 or 20 are 2013 prospects, he said).
>> The recruiting process is speeding up. According to Els, 80 2013 recruits had given Big Ten schools their oral commitments by May. Forty was the previous high. … He also said league teams, on average, have two-thirds of their class completed about five months before signing day. Used to be half the class.
>> When he took over as NU’s recruiting coordinator this past offseason, Els said he surveyed current Nebraska players and asked them about the factors that lured them to NU. The two top answers: The Huskers’ tradition and Bo Pelini.
>> By far, the biggest negative perception of Nebraska during recruitment is location-based, according to Els. “I can’t tell you the number (of prospects) that said, ‘Coach, I thought I was just going to be in a farm town, in a cornfield. That’s their perception of Nebraska.”
>> So … Els wants to better emphasize recruiting in-state and within a 500-mile radius. “We are going to continue to tighten the reins on local recruiting,” Els said. There’s actually a meeting set for Friday, where Nebraska may “tweak recruiting areas a little bit,” Els said.
>> Els, in charge of kickoff coverage, said he continues to make changes to that unit. A personnel issue, he said. … The strategy going forward is still to aim for touchbacks on kickoffs, according to Els. He said in the Big Ten, the average starting spot on kickoff returns was the 25.1-yard line last year.
>> Kicker Brett Maher altered his pre-game routine and tweaked some of his mechanics after two consecutive slow starts against Southern Miss and UCLA, Els said. “He’s back where he needs to be.”
>> We’ll end with quick-hitter quotes from Els on the young linebackers.
Sophomore Trevor Roach: “When you start seeing more two-back, two-tight end stuff, you’ll see more of Trevor Roach. He has improved a lot.”
Freshman Thomas Brown: “He can absolutely fly. I’m not so sure you wouldn’t have seen him, had he not sprained his ankle.”
Freshman Michael Rose: “Very, very intelligent football player. Great feet. Needs to be more mobile. He may play some this year. We’ll see.”
Freshman Jared Afalava: “Big. Physical. But raw as heck. He just joined us when school started. Doesn’t have any idea how good he can be.”