Here are some quick takes and reactions following Monday’s Nebraska football press conference as the Huskers get ready to travel to Purdue.
Huskers playing for “pride” in December
As we reach the home stretch of the 2020 Big Ten season, both divisional races appear all but wrapped up with Ohio State and Northwestern.
So at this point, what is left to play for? We are going to learn a lot about the inner culture at Nebraska, this month, as the Huskers face the possibility of three more games and a chance to improve their 1-4 record.
I asked multiple players on Monday what they are playing for now. The overwhelming answer was “pride.”
The other thing that came up is every game is an evaluation no matter what your record is. Meaning, if you have plans to play at the next level, they all matter.
The bottom line is we are going to really learn a lot about Scott Frost’s team in December. November was one of the most disappointing months in recent history. What will December bring?
Still too early to know the future status of NU seniors
Another interesting thing the month of December will bring is the future status of senior players who have the option to return in 2021 if they want.
I’m sure going into the season nearly every senior with pro aspirations planned on this shortened season being their last at NU.
However, do guys like running back Dedrick Mills have enough film out there to turn pro? There’s no question a lot of guys will probably move on after 2020, but you have to think a handful of seniors may return.
2020 recruiting class has created a distraction this season
Call it a 2020 issue. Call it being upset about playing time. Call it whatever you want, Nebraska has had far too many newcomers leave the program in the last few months.
In fact, in my 20 years covering Nebraska football, I’ve never seen anything like it. Over the weekend, defensive back Ronald Delancy and wide receiver Marcus Fleming put their names in the transfer portal, becoming the fourth and fifth members of NU’s 2020 recruiting class to leave the program – all five from the state of Florida.
2020 junior college wide receiver Omar Manning has only seen limited time in one game, after being dubbed a difference-making player that could start on Day 1.
On paper, this 2020 recruiting class had a lot of promise, but we are learning it’s made up of a lot of guys who didn’t have as strong of a commitment to NU as we thought. The talent was obviously there, but the commitment level to the program was not.
Over the weekend, 2021 defensive back recruit Ladarius Webb Jr. and the Huskers also parted ways in recruiting.
You get the impression the Huskers are totally revaluating their recruiting approach and Delancy’s departure along with the Huskers parting ways with Webb Jr. have completely blown up things with the defensive back board going forward.
Find a culture that works in today’s world
We’ve heard so much about how Nebraska strives to build a culture as they had in the program back in the 90s.
However, the problem is that’s much easier said than done. Today’s kid is wired much differently than 20 years ago. Things you did 20 years ago wouldn’t fly today.
In my early years around the program, I remember seeing all the freshmen have their heads shaved or even their eyebrows every August. I remember seeing younger players carrying the shoulder pads of older players. I remember older players and coaches roasting younger players. Today, the world we live in is much different. That type of stuff doesn’t happen. If it does, you end up as some sort of HBO Real Sports investigation.
Top-ranked recruits don’t want to sit and if they don’t play early, they leave. We’ve seen it more than ever in the last couple of years. As Frost said on Monday, they have to find the right players that fit Nebraska and not just the right athletes.