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Recruiting the radius

Mike Riley wrapped up his third class at Nebraska. In his previous classes, the Huskers placed an emphasis on targeting recruits from the 500-mile radius around Lincoln, but that wasn't as big a focus in 2017. Find out how Riley’s third class compares to the previous two and other classes of the past in terms of recruiting the 500-mile radius.


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THE WORLD-HERALD

The 2017 Nebraska recruiting class map as of this very moment. Mike Riley's staff said in 2016 they intended to focus on landing commits within Lincoln's 500-mile radius, but the 2017 class shows a greater emphasis outside it than in previous years.

During 20 seasons under Tom Osborne and Frank Solich, Nebraska found success using a recruiting formula focused on players within a 500-mile radius of Lincoln.

From 1984 to 2003, Nebraska averaged more recruits from within that 500-mile radius (55 percent) than from outside it (45 percent).

That trend changed dramatically under Bill Callahan and Bo Pelini.

From 2004 to 2014, Nebraska's recruiting focus shifted outside the 500-mile radius. Nebraska averaged significantly more recruits from outside (64 percent) than inside (36 percent).

As the crow flies, Nebraska has major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Oklahoma City, Kansas City and St. Louis within 500 miles.

Staff writer Dirk Chatelain explored the reasons for some of these changes with an in-depth column in 2013.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley is putting the finishing touches on his third class at NU this week. How does he stack up?

Through his first two classes Riley and his staff were still bringing in more recruits from outside the radius (58 percent) than in (42 percent), but the numbers were trending toward an increased emphasis in Midwestern recruits. Riley said during his signing day press conference in 2016 that the 500-mile radius would be pivotal moving forward.

“I think that radius is a real thing,” Riley said at the time.

But that wasn't necessarily the case in 2017 for a variety of reasons. The Huskers' emphasis on the West Coast played a big part, but NU also landed recruits this year from faraway states like Delaware and Florida. Combine that with a down year in terms of talent within that 500-mile radius, and it's no wonder the Huskers had to expand beyond it for this recruiting class.

The percentage of Riley's total recruits from outside the 500-mile mark will grow after the 2017 class. The percentage of recruits from within the 500-mile radius in this class is also one of the lowest in recent years, and the Huskers are also traveling further for recruits than most classes over the last couple decades.

* * *

Where Nebraska recruits come from

Nebraska's recruiting profile remained consistent from 1984 until 2003. A shift in emphasis can be seen from 2004 to 2017.

* * *

Recruits from the 500-mile radius

From 2004-16, Nebraska had only two classes draw more than half of their recruits from within the 500-mile radius. The 2016 class was only the fourth class since 2004 to draw more than 40 percent from the 500-mile radius and was the highest, at 47.6 percent, since 2010 (54.5 percent).

The 2017 class went a different direction and had a lower percentages of recruits drawn from within the 500-mile radius than Riley's first two classes.

* * *

Median distance

Since 2004, Nebraska has had only two seasons with the median distance traveled for a recruit within the 500-mile radius. The 2017 class ended up having farther distance than each one of Riley's first two classes, but that average is still lower than Pelini's last few classes.

* * *

Top targets

Each year, Rivals.com names the top 250 recruits in the country. How many players on that list were from within Lincoln's 500-mile radius and how many did Nebraska sign?

Numbers are down during Riley's three seasons. There were only 17 Rivals250 members within the 500-mile radius in 2015. That number decreased over the next two years with 14 in 2016 and 13 in 2017.

NU has signed three 500-mile radius players from the top 250 under Riley — Avery Anderson and Eric Lee in 2015 and John Raridon in 2016. They will not add any in the 2017 class.

Rivals 250
2008200920102011201220132014201520162017
21212319211529171413
NU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNEDNU SIGNED
1012112210
Baker
Steinkuhler
Andrew
Rodriguez
Bubba
Starling
and
Ryan
Klachko
Paul
Thurston
Josh
Banderas
Tanner
Farmer
and
Mikale
Wilbon
Eric Lee
and Avery
Anderson
John
Raridon


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