The fickleness of high school recruiting.
While recruiting has become a cottage industry since the late 1990s, it will always be such an inexact “science” as it has to do with development, needs and luck.
Yes, we know some guys are just better recruiters than others. See John Blake and Kevin Steele. But sometimes you are more lucky than good because someone else passed on a player and they ended up at your school.
Nebraska was not Johnny Rodgers number one choice for college way back in the late 1960s coming out of Omaha Tech High School. Rodgers was eyeing USC but a multi-pronged proposal from Bob Devaney swayed the multi-sport Rodgers in the end.
Devaney said he would allow Rodgers to play baseball and he would recruit more African-Americans to play football at Nebraska. At the time there were not many African-Americans on the rosters of college teams.
How did it turn out for Nebraska?
Rodgers had a College Football Hall of Fame career over three years while winning a Heisman Trophy. In addition, Rodgers was part of three Big 8 championship teams and two National Championship teams as a Cornhusker.
He was instrumental in Nebraska winning “the Game of the Century” in 1971 versus Oklahoma with not only one of the greatest punt returns in college football history but a clutch reception in the game-winning drive that day in Norman, Okla.
As for the baseball player Rodgers?
Devaney persuaded Rodgers to focus on football and he would make him a bugger piece of the offense if he left his glove and bat at home. Also, he said he would promote Rodgers for the Heisman Trophy more than they normally promoted a player if his stats and play deserved it. The baseball part of the offer from Devaney was legitimate, but the coach was able to replace it with something else as Rodgers’ career went along.
Such a unique offer would be difficult to replicate in just about any other era of college football but as luck would have it was 1968…
Tommie Frazier coming out of Bradenton, Fla., was looking at the Big Eight but not the Big Red.
Frazier wanted to be a part of the recent National Champion Colorado Buffaloes. However, when Frazier call the Buff staff, they said they not only had their quarterback already but they were changing their philosophy to a more pass-oriented attack. The Buffs were pushing forward with Koy Detmer and going to a passing offense.
Frazier would go 3-0 versus the Buffaloes in his career with Brook Berringer handling them in 1994 when Frazier was out with blood clots.
How did the Buffs choice workout for both schools?
Frazier was a stud in all four years as a quarterback and regarded by some as the greatest quarterback in college football history. However, blood clots kept him from winning a multiple Heismans, in my opinion. And as time goes on, unfortunately, media and fans forget just what a bad dude Frazier was on the field because he was an option quarterback and not pass-first QB.
Team-wise he is seen as Nebraska’s “Michael Jordan” for his play and taking Nebraska to multiple championships after 20 years of almost rings.
The Buffs began a descent from a Top 10 program that was aided by Hall of Fame coach Bill McCartney retiring and being replaced by somebody not up to snuff (sound familiar Husker fans?)
The above beneficial situations to the Huskers are somewhat known. However, sometimes the player doesn’t end up at NU and who knows how that would have affected Nebraska football.
Todd Doxzon was star quarterback at Millard North in 1992 and Nebraska wanted him in Lincoln. But they were mainly after another quarterback that was also from Nebraska. This signal-called hailed from Wood River, Neb., and whose dad played at NU in Scott Frost.
Nebraska asked Doxzon to walk-on and he wasn’t wild about it as paying for school is paying for school, whether you grew up in Nebraska or not. Iowa State came in the picture with a scholarship offer and said he would likely play right away.
Doxzon did not wait long to give former Husker player and assistant coach a positive answer and he said yes to the Cyclones.
Eventually Frost verbaled to Stanford and it made the Huskers scramble a bit. Husker assistant coach Frank Solich came to Omaha and Doxzon’s house a few weeks before signing day that year. He offered Doxzon a scholarship to play quarterback for the Huskers.
Doxzon, feeling loyalty to ISU, said no thanks. However, he would have said yes in a heartbeat a month earlier.
For the record, Doxzon would not have changed a thing about his college career. In fact, Doxzon now living in Omaha, speculated his son might end up in Ames in the near future.
However, it is hard to think that now and again Doxzon, who ended up playing on some rather poor ISU teams, doesn’t think what life would have been like with All-Americans on the offensive line and in his backfield.
And who knows how NU history turns out if Doxzon would have been a Husker from 1993-1996 instead of a Cyclone quarterback?
Good chance we never remember the name of Matt Turman. And Doxzon was an elite athlete and he would have given QB Berringer a fight all day long for the back-up spot to Frazier in the mid-1990s. And being more of a runner in that offense, who knows how it turns out.
Lastly, if there would have been a good and younger guy behind Frazier, does Frost transfer back here without as much of clear path to the starting job in Lincoln?
Is Frost the coach at Nebraska right now if a 17-year old Doxzon doesn’t make a somewhat emotional decision back in 1993?