Huskers Add Size, Athleticism
Scott Frost took offense last season when, at times, he’d look across the field at Nebraska’ Big Ten Conference opponent and see a bigger, stronger football team.
“That,” Frost said, “is not supposed to happen at Nebraska.”
When he played quarterback at Nebraska in 1996 and 1997, the Huskers were always the bigger, more physical, dominant team. Now entering his second season as Nebraska’s head coach, Frost wants that once again.
Some of that Nebraska can accomplish through the weight room with current players, and already has, to an extent. Some it can also accomplish through recruiting, as we saw Wednesday, when Frost and his staff signed seven defensive and offensive linemen on the first day of the early signing period.
Among them was a signing day commitment from Jimmy Fritzsche, from Greenville, South Carolina. Listed at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Fritzsche made many schools’ recruiting lists as a tight end.
At Nebraska, Frost is certain strength coach Zach Duval and his staff can turn Fritzsche into an offensive tackle.
“The minute I saw Jimmy’s tape, I was excited,” Frost said. “A guy after even a year in our weight room, he’s going to look like offensive linemen are supposed to look in the Big Ten. With his athletic ability, we feel great about what he can turn into.”
Nebraska also signed one of the nation’s top offensive line recruits in Bryce Benhart of Lakeville, Minnesota, as 247 Sports ranked Benhart the No. 1 player in the state of Minnesota, and the No. 8 tackle in the nation.
Matthew Anderson, from Leesville, Louisiana, is a three-star prospect, according to 247 Sports, and among the top 75 tackles in the country. And Michael Lynn of Greenwood Village, Colorado, is listed among the top five players in Colorado by both 247 Sports and Rivals, and chose Nebraska over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Utah and Washington.
Highlighting the defensive line is Ty Robinson, who chose the Huskers in a Wednesday ceremony over Oregon, USC and Alabama. From Gilbert, Arizona, Robinson is a consensus four-star recruit who recently had an in-home visit from the entire Nebraska coaching staff, which is unprecedented.
Highlights of that visit, Frost said, included a lot of corn holing, some ping-pong, a little bit of basketball, a bonfire and a camel.
Yes, a camel.
“And,” Frost said, “a dog who can go get waters out of the fridge for you on command.”
Unusual, perhaps, but a visit that most certainly paid off for the Nebraska coaching staff, most notably Mike Dawson, the lead recruiter on Robinson.
And if one talented Robinson isn’t enough, how about two?
The Huskers recently had landed a commitment from highly touted athlete Wandale Robinson of Frankfort, Kentucky, who had previously committed to Kentucky. At that point, Frost said he was ready to give up on the four-star running back.
But assistant coaches Troy Walters and Ryan Held were not, and Frost gave credit to them for sticking onto Wandale Robinson, who said he followed his heart in changing his mind and coming to Nebraska.
“We knew all along this is where is heart was,” Frost said. “We’ve got a new toy for our offense.”
Wandale Robinson, who rushed for 6,795 career yards, will be among six players from Wednesdays’ class expected to enroll early and participate in spring football. Frost didn’t name the others.
“I sure am glad we have Wandale,” Frost said. “I really like him as a young man. That’s not even to speak of the things he can do on the football field, which I can’t wait to get my hands on that and start working with him.”
Frost also credited Lincoln native and linebackers coach Barrett Ruud for his role in landing all five instate recruits the Huskers offered. Frost again reiterated the importance of securing state borders in recruiting.
“Those guys are going to be huge for us. I think they’ll help be the backbone of the program we’re building,” Frost said. “If we can sign five quality scholarship players from the state every year, that will be a good start for us.”
In all, Wednesday proved to a “drama-free” day for Nebraska, which signed all 23 players it had expected to sign on the first day of the early signing period.
“They are a bunch of good kids who gave us their pledge,” Frost said. “I feel great about the guys we signed. I not only feel good about the type of player, but the type of kids we’re bringing into this class.”
Nebraska can sign up to 30 players and has until the late February signing period to do so. Frost said Nebraska could still improve depth at linebacker and outside pass rusher, and perhaps find another receiver, or a young corner.
“It doesn’t really matter – if we find a guy who can move the needle and helps us win games in the Big Ten,” Frost said, “we’re going to take him.”
Reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.