I know that many folks think that finding good, renewable talent in recruiting is tiresome to talk about. Hence, a few of our staff hates recruiting talk period.
While I respect that, it's also important to realize what you need to recruit for in the future. If you're not looking at issues on your roster 2, maybe even 3 years down the road and hoping you can just plug in walk-ons to fill it, that's a problem.
And, yes, the Nebraska Cornhuskers have one of if not the most storied walk-on programs in America. However, in the end, it doesn't make up for laziness in recruiting.
A friend of mine, Kevin Koenig and his buddies did some numbers crunching when it came to the two-deep of Nebraska and comparable programs across FBS.
They all compared the top 40 S&P teams at Football Outsiders and their 2 deep in Week 5 or 6 of their seasons. These are going off the depth charts provided in a team's game notes.
How many walk-ons are in the 2 deep across the board? The numbers may shock you.
Here is the chart.
This is what happens when you have a lot of marginal guys on your recruiting classes that don't have very many Power 5 offers. Granted, you do indeed find kids that work out, but more often than not you're looking to have to plug in with walk-ons and such.
Iowa has almost as many walk-ons in the 2 deep as Nebraska does, and has lower-ranked recruiting classes. However, the Hawkeyes are 6-0 while Nebraska, as we know, is far from that. It does not mean that Mike Riley's staff is not as good, but it does mean that Mike Riley's staff has their work cut out for them.
Development is one thing. Recruiting is another thing. Both, however, will get you to promised lands like the CFB Playoff and Conference championships.
To look at what Nebraska is dealing with right now, lets look at the '13 recruiting class and what they are doing now. The Huskers signed 25 kids out of that class. Where are they now?
Josh Banderas – LB – starter
Cethan Carter – TE – starter
Maliek Collins – DT – starter
Tre’Vell Dixon – DB – gone
Matt Finnin – OT – just now got to the 2 deep due to being buried.
Nate Gerry – S – starter
Kevin Gladney – WR – gone
Randy Gregory – DE – contributed but left early for NFL
Zach Hannon – OL – buried on depth chart
Greg Hart – TE - gone
Dwayne Johnson – OG – gone
Boaz Joseph – DB – buried on depth chart
David Knevel – OT – 2nd string
Chongo Kondolo – OG – starter as a Sr JUCO
Courtney Love – LB – split with Hart
Drake Martinez – LB/S – at Michigan State
Kevin Maurice – DT – has done well on backup duty
Gabe Miller – OL – medical redshirt
Dimarya Mixon – DE – gone
AJ Natter – DE – buried on depth chart
Marcus Newby – LB – starter/co-starter
Terrell Newby – RB – starter
Johnny Stanton – QB – back to Cali
Earnest Suttles – DE – not on team
Adam Taylor – RB – buried, will probably split town
It's not only important to get good kids, but also contributors on the bottom of the class. The more of those you have, the better you will be off. Granted, every class will have kids that don't work out. That's human nature, but the less you have of those, the better off your program will be.