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.
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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.