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Nebraska Football: Sunday Mailbag for 2/24/13

Mail Call!

Eric Francis

Unfortunately, last week's mailbag had to be put on hold, but it returns this week with some predictions and a hard-hitting question.

Per usual, I hit up the Corn Nation Facebook Page for questions and folks were happy to oblige.

Nathan Erixon asks, "Which of our new recruits are enrolled and will be participating in spring training? Any of them challenge for playing time right away?"

Offensive lineman David Knevel, linebacker Courtney Love and safety D.J. Singleton all enrolled this past January and will be a part of Spring practice which begins...wait for Saturday!

In regards to any of them competing for time, Singleton has the best opportunity. Knevel was a big hockey fan before he got into football (shocking for a Canadian, I know), so it's going to take him time to develop his frame and get into a groove.

Love is extremely athletic and could see time this season, but with so much depth in the linebacker corps, it'd be best to redshirt him if at all possible.

As a safety, Singleton is working with guys who have to be the most cerebral defenders on the field for Bo Pelini's defense to work. Being extremely athletic's a plus, but if you know where to be, that comes first. Fortunately, Singleton is both.

Harvey Jackson and Corey Cooper are both in front of him as juniors, but I look at Cooper as a safety in name only. Until I see differently, he's Eric Hagg 2.0. Charles Jackson's still a coin flip as a sophomore. Between Nathan Gerry, Drake Martinez and Singleton, the latter is the most natural fit in my eyes.

Darin LeZotte asks for me to "name some specifics Nebraska needs to do to recruit with the elite programs again."

Several people across the college football world seemed to enjoy my idea of Ron Zook as Recruiting Grand Poobah, so that's a thought. Tossing names away, major programs are going to have people lined up to hire if recruiting reform goes through.

Nebraska needs to be one of those schools.

If I were making the hires, I'd have a guy like Zook ready regardless. Alabama's not letting Kevin Steele go, so why not have someone ready to relieve stress from the coaching staff?

We've hit that topic, so let's say Nebraska hires the Big Boss like Zook, maybe a coordinator to assist with social media and wait until official rulings come out. They could extend some feelers in the meantime.

If most restrictions remain in tact, what I've seen under Frank Solich and Bo Pelini in terms of recruiting is a mirror image. Hit the ground running, scale back sometime in July, set things aside until about December and scramble until National Signing Day.

I'm going to tell you the real secret behind why Terry Joseph is the best recruiter on this staff: he has the least connections to either of them.

He understands Nebraska's culture which is absolutely necessary, but he understands SEC culture as well. Let's be honest, if you're not going to pull a few prospects out of SEC territory, you won't consistently win against the big boys.

Nebraska needs to find a way to get Tim Beck back down to Texas and line someone up to devote more time to California.

There's a reason these states are referred to as The Big Three. This isn't to say the Big Ten footprint should be ignored, but the Huskers' staff needs to get out of its comfort zone more often.

My final major piece of advice (because I could go on about how to set up a proper war room for this) is communication. Whether professional or personal, communication will make or break a relationship.

Hand-written letters, phone calls, trips to see kids face-to-face, social media, the works. Make the prospect feel the love. It's not even about need or want. It's about comfort.

If I had to mention one more unique piece of advice, it would be to show off the Student Life Complex. When I first had the opportunity to walk through it and see what was available, I felt it would be a great recruiting tool.

In speaking with recruits who have passed through, they understand there's only so much time on a trip, but many have wanted to hang around there a bit more. Five or ten more minutes during the tour along with a follow up about it could make a big difference.