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National Signing Day Press Conference Recap

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Mike Riley spoke at length about this year's recruiting class and his program in general.

That QB competition thing starts soon!
That QB competition thing starts soon!
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

National Signing Day has ended at Nebraska, with the Cornhuskers receiving letters of intent from twenty-eight young men. Brian has already given you a run-down of the twenty new scholarship players and the eight new walk-ons. For now, let's get to reviewing today's NSD press conference. At 2pm local time, Mike Riley met with the media pool to discuss this year's class.

Before we get to that, during the hustle and bustle of the morning, final contract information has been released for Nebraska's new assistant coaches. WR coach Keith Williams will make $275,000 in 2015 and $300,000 in 2016.

According to the LJS, the combined salaries of assistants come out to $3.3 million. The 2014 staff made $2.95 million. Add in the head coach salaries, and Nebraska will pay about $25,000 more in compensation. Here's the story from LJS, including 2015 salaries for the current staff.

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Introduction:

  • Yes, Mike Riley, like every football coach ever, is proud and excited about this class.
  • The staff has already started planning and such for the 2016 class, though until they finish evaluating the current roster, they can't be 100% sure on which direction they'll go.
  • Coach Riley has been attending morning practices and trying to learn player's names.

Recruiting:

  • Very thankful that Pelini's staff did a good job of selling Nebraska, the institution, and not necessarily just Pelini's program.
  • Indicated that the biggest stumbling block appeared to be the familiarity of the players and their families with the new coaches and whether or not the player still felt like they fit at Nebraska.
  • Mentioned Eichorst's commitment to those players that had committed and were eligible to go to Nebraska would be kept in the fold - staff worked to make that commitment
  • Consequently, first priority after the staff came on board was to re-evaluate all of the current commits, watch film, etc.
  • Made sure that first visits were to the four early enrollees, and then visited with as many of the then-present commits as possible
  • In the meantime, the staff evaluated remaining space in class and identified targets for those holes - some from Oregon State, some from non-Oregon State hires' (Hughes, Williams, Warren) recruit targets
  • Believes "linemen are gold" in any class - cannot win championships without an elite line
    • Riley has never had a two-deep of good OL - very excited about what he can do with that
    • Also indicated corners and LBs (very thin depth-wise) were very important in 2015 class
  • Sales pitch:
    • Focused on the entire student-athlete experience, not just football
    • Push the academic support, the life skills education, nutrition support, the institution itself
    • Nebraska's resources for student athletes are unparalleled
    • Riley's very (VERY) excited about the resources available to him - he's never had this before
    • Adamant that Nebraska's brand is strong and goes from coast to coast; its history helps
  • Very confident that Nebraska can and will compete with Urban Meyer
    • Acknowledges that Nebraska's recruiting will have to improve, at least in perception, to compete with the elite talent at championship-level programs
    • Nebraska will be Nebraska, but has to acknowledge what championship programs are doing and match them, somehow
    • His staff will not be afraid to compete with the likes of Meyer and Harbaugh for recruits
    • Very excited to coach against Harbaugh and Chryst, in particular
  • Wants the very best kids that fit Nebraska's program going forward
  • Recruiting will (obviously) be more organized going forward
  • Two parts to building elite talent: identifying players with the potential and developing that potential
    • Not all five stars are five stars, but not all two stars are diamonds in the rough - will recruit the players that fit Nebraska, first and foremost
    • Potential must be there from the start, otherwise what are you developing?
    • Hopefully recruiting services perceive his evaluations the same way, star-wise
  • Will not take a kid just to fill a spot - every kid recruited has to have the potential to contribute to the program
    • Stressed that character is very important
  • Roster Management:
    • Every position will have an ideal portion of the 85
    • For instance, Riley's staff would like 12 linebackers; they do not have 12
    • Will look at numbers again after spring practice
    • Indicated that the program is currently at 85 - questionable, but Nebraska doesn't have to be at 85 until July
  • Special Teams:
    • Reserves about three scholarships for specialists: kicker, punter, long snapper
    • Very complimentary of Read's ability to evaluate specialists - best in business, in Riley's opinion
    • Scholarship does not guarantee start - walk-ons can (and will) beat out their scholarship teammate
    • Suggests that Faulkenberry (current LS walk-on) will have chance to compete for starting job with Jordan Ober (LS commit)
  • Walk-on Coordinator/High School Liason position(s) will be filled eventually - wants to get hire right though admittedly would like them helping with 2016 class ASAP
    • Commanding the 500 mile radius will be important going forward. Will build foundation of class using "local" recruits. Travel coast-to-coast to find talent to fill out class
    • Possibly indicates a similar approach to Osborne's ? (Big boys from the Midwest, skill players from points south and east and west)
    • Very adamant that Nebraska is a "draw, sea to sea". Mentioned Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, etc.
  • Nebraska will recruit who and where it wants, no limits to get the players that can bring home championships
  • WR Philosophy
    • Two types of backs
      • Big Body/Big Target: Great for intermediate curls, back-shoulder fade, matchups with little corners
      • Speed: Great for screens, posts, fly sweeps
    • Will recruit for both types
  • Corners Philosophy
    • Corners should have some speed but don't have to be the fastest
    • Must have good transitions - good feet
    • Hand-eye coordination is a must - too many awkward positions to make a play on the ball
      • Awareness of position critical - must understand the penalty of a mistake at corner
      • Hopefully this won't lead to trepidation on the part of the corners
    • Wide receivers who can't catch make great corners
    • Thinks HS QBs who run the zone-read make great corners in college
  • Was very excited about Matt Snyder - he was a long time priority for Riley's staff

Staffing:

  • Very impressed with Charlton Warren
    • Cites his strong recruiting connections in Georgia and Colorado
    • Warren's knowledge of prior staff's recruiting was very helpful to the staff while working on 2015 class
    • With Bussey headed out, Warren brought Ozigbo to staff's attention
  • Pat Hill (former Fresno State head coach) recommended Keith Williams (WR coach) to Riley
    • Riley took his time on hire (was focused on tightening up old commits)
    • Interviewed many, but was particularly impressed by Williams' recruiting ability as well as his outlook on teaching young men
    • Their shared philosophies sealed the deal

Social Media

  • Lauded the work of Kelly Moiser's department in the athletic department as well as his two lieutenants, Ryan Gunderson and Andy Vaughn.
  • Sees the use of social media as a way to relate to recruits, to get information out to their families, and to connect with the fan base
  • Very excited about the fan response to Nebraska's presence on the internet
  • Riley says his job is to decide the message but leaves the delivery up to his lieutenants and the social media department

General Items of Interest

  • No roster movements to announce today
    • Possibility of players changing positions exists, but evaluations are on-going
    • No departures since start of semester
  • I cannot stress how much Riley stressed that linemen are important - if you like your big ‘n uglies, Riley is your best friend right now

Spring Game

  • Cannot comment about format yet
    • Oregon State did not have enough players to have a game
    • Nebraska's walk-on program gives them the depth to host a game
    • (There will probably be an actual game)
  • "As I understand it, there will be a couple people watching the game."

In Closing:

"Alright, thanks to see all of you, sorry about my cough."

(Mike Riley had a bit of a cough going. He looked like a man who hasn't slept in weeks, which is probably the case. Get some sleep, Coach!)

For your viewing pleasure, Grep Sharpe had a series of interviews with Nebraska's assistant coaches about today's signees. (Links instead of embeds, because I love you folks on your mobile phones, checking in while the boss ain't lookin'.)

Coach Banker

Coach Warren