Ready for a recruiting lesson, Husker fans?
Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Write down the 24 players who signed with Nebraska Wednesday. Close your eyes and cross out 14 random names. Don’t cheat. These are your future failures and big disappointments.
What’s going to happen to them, you ask? One won’t show up in August. Two will get kicked off the team. Three will quit because of injuries. Four will transfer. Four will find their brightest moments on the scout team/kickoff duty.
That leaves 10 names, right? If 10 out of 24 become important pieces in Bo Pelini’s program, the coach deserves a pat on the back. Seriously.
The two best Husker classes of the past decade were 2005 and ’07. Neither hit 50 percent.
>> The 2005 class had 32 players. Only 15 became prominent/important pieces of the program. That’s being generous. The 15 includes juco transfers Zac Taylor, Zack Bowman, Steve Octavien, Barry Cryer, Ola Dagunduro and Bryan Wilson, all of whom only played two years.
The only four-year notables were Phillip Dillard, Cody Glenn, Jacob Hickman, Marlon Lucky, Zach Potter, Matt Slauson and some dude named Suh.
>> The 2007 class had 28 players. Only 12 became prominent/important pieces of the program. That includes jucos Larry Asante, Shukree Barfield and Armando Murillo. That includes Jaivorio Burkes, who retired with a medical condition; Zac Lee, who got replaced after his junior year; Adi Kunalic, who only handled kickoffs.
The best four-year players in that class: Prince Amukamara, Marcel Jones, Eric Hagg, Roy Helu, Jared Crick and Niles Paul.
>> Here’s where it gets interesting. The worst classes, like 2006 and ’08, also hit about 50 percent. So what separates them from the successful groups? The quality of those 10-12 significant pieces.
In 2005, it was Suh, Taylor, Dillard, Slauson and Potter. In ’07, it was Prince, Hagg, Helu, Crick and Paul (all five are in the NFL).
In ’06, the most significant pieces were Keith Williams, Mo Purify, Pierre Allen, Rickey Thenarse and Mike McNeill (you could argue Carl Nicks, but he was a two-year player who didn’t shine). In ’08, the best pieces were Alfonzo Dennard, Ricky Henry, Ben Cotton, Kyler Reed, Will Compton and Baker Steinkuhler. Very good players, but few standouts.
It’s about quality more than quantity. Look at your 10 random names remaining. What Pelini needs is: five of those guys to eventually get drafted; four to be three-year starters; three to be first-team all-Big Ten; two to earn some kind of All-America honors; one to be a transformational athlete — a national award winner.
Yes, depth is nice and a disastrous position group (like the 2010 defensive line class) eventually causes problems. But in recruiting, it’s not really about how many signees become starters or contributors — you can always plug a hole down the road. Success is primarily determined by the ceiling of your best guys (needless to say, player development is critical).
So how many 2014 recruits will flop? More than you think. But these are the real questions: Is your best defensive tackle the next Baker Steinkuhler or Ndamukong Suh? Is your best linebacker the next Will Compton or Lavonte David? Is your best pass rusher the next Pierre Allen or Randy Gregory? Is your best tailback the next Marlon Lucky or Ameer Abdullah?
Lucky was rated the No. 2 back in the country in 2005. Abdullah’s ranking in 2011, according to ESPN?
On Signing Day, the only thing we know for sure is that we better wait to make conclusions.
* * *
>> Pat Forde pens a letter to the recruiting class of 2014. Definitely worth a read.
>> The Birmingham News, one of the best sports sections in the South, examines the recruiting web site industry. Has it peaked? And what’s changing?
>> Gregg Marshall’s teeth are broken, but his Shockers are still undefeated. USA Today features the Wichita State rags-to-riches coach. Here’s a few sound bites:
“One of Wichita State’s slogans is to play angry,” says Wood, a close friend of Marshall who is the head coach at the University of Mary Washington. “I think he coaches angry … He didn’t come from a hierarchy under Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith or Larry Brown. You have to do things twice as good to get looked at half as much.”
“I do my job and I try to win. Yet do I try to beat the (expletive) out of the other coach? Hell, yeah. And yet, am I responsible for a lot of coaches in the Big South and maybe the Missouri Valley getting fired? Yeah. Do you think you’d like that person?”
>> How Michigan State’s Adreian Payne became a hero to an 8-year-old cancer patient. Heartbreaking and inspiring.
>> Why is Iowa State ranked in the Top 20? The No. 1 reason is DeAndre Kane’s transfer from Marshall. SI profiles the All-American candidate.
>> Grant Gibbs may have a future in sports writing. His latest blog is great fun.
>> How many teams will the new Big East get into the NCAA tournament? If today was Selection Sunday, Xavier and Providence would probably be in, though neither is playing well. My guess is one misses the Dance. Does that mean the Big East only gets three? Not so fast…
Keep an eye on Georgetown. The Hoyas’ win Sunday over Michigan State is a huge boost. With non-conference wins over Kansas State and VCU, I think Georgetown gets a bid if it reaches 9-9 in the Big East. It needs to go 5-3 down the stretch. Very possible.
>> CBS will air eight Thursday night NFL games in 2014. That’s fine and all, but I’m more excited about the return of Saturday NFL in December. Hope it doesn’t interfere with the New Mexico Bowl.
>> The Kansas City Chiefs failed to make the Top 5 “most tortured NFL fan bases”? Can’t they do anything right?
>> I should’ve linked this Monday, but somehow I missed it. The Richard Sherman 30 for 30, starring Frank Caliendo. Hilarious.
>> A sad profile of Tony Dorsett, who’s enduring brain damage from his days on the gridiron.
>> Dan Wetzel doesn’t mess around. His takedown of the IOC is even better than his BCS body slams over the years.
>> Shaun White’s decision to pull out of a snowboarding event is prompting questions: Have Olympic organizers gone overboard and put athletes at too great a risk?
>> Last but not least, Terran Petteway is a first-round draft NBA pick? I must say, I was quite shocked by this possibility in the latest mock draft on NBADraft.net. Petteway, the sophomore transfer, has apparently impressed scouts enough to be ranked higher than guys like Nick Johnson (Arizona), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), C.J. Fair (Syracuse), Keith Appling (Michigan State) and Shabazz Napier (UConn).
Wednesday night, Petteway had his first bad game of the Big Ten season, scoring fewer than 15 points for the first time since Dec. 14. He went 2-for-10 and scored five points. Petteway has an NBA body. His ceiling is high. But I don’t think he’s ready for the next level. We’ll know a lot more in a month. Petteway will be the primary focus of every Big Ten defense the rest of the season. That’s a lot to put on a newcomer’s shoulders.
If Petteway does leave early and land in the first round, the good news for Tim Miles is he can sell Petteway’s success to potential transfers. Pretty clever, huh.