The United States of Nebraska football

On this map, youíll find the most important recruiting states to Nebraska football dating back to 1962. The darker the shade, the more valuable itís been to NU. Have a problem with our rankings? Itís February. Thereís plenty of time for debate.

Since 1962, Nebraska's football record is 499-134-5, by far No. 1 in the country. Despite 14 years without a conference championships, the Cornhuskers have won 78.6 percent of their games since Bob Devaney's arrival.

They could go 0-12 next season, second-place Ohio State could go 14-0 and the standings wouldn't change.

How did that happen? How did Nebraska build a football empire in the nation's 37th most populous state?

The answer: Hit the road. Hunt down elite talent outside the borders and bring it home. From Bradenton, Fla. (Touchdown Tommie), to Portland (Suuuuuuh). From Honolulu (Big Dominic Raiola) to Jersey (the Peter brothers).

Since '62, the Huskers' coast-to-coast recruiting philosophy has produced All-Americans from 25 states, all-conference players from 36. Every year, the NU roster is a melting pot of country boys and street kids. Those who've never seen a beach and those who've never a snowdrift.

The roots of Nebraska football will always be here, where kids grow up hearing "Hail Varsity" in their sleep. But as Bo Pelini begins his seventh year, the Huskers are branching out more than ever. On signing day, Pelini grabbed 24 prospects from 13 states. (Florida State, by comparison, had only 13 states represented on its entire national championship roster.)

Which states have been most important to NU? What regions have fueled the Big Red Machine? And how has the formula changed over time? We set out to find the answers, ranking the 20 most valuable recruiting pipelines. In the process, we uncovered a catalog of data that makes Nebraska unique in college football.

TOP FIVE NU's top talent pipelines

TOP FIVE

1. TEXAS

NU'S ALL-TEXAS TEAM

Turner Gill: Heisman finalist in '83
Junior Miller: All-America tight end in '79, first-round pick in '80
Broderick Thomas: All-America linebacker in '87-88
Jake Young: All-America center in '88
Doug Glaser: All-America offensive tackle in '89
Kenny Walker: All-America defensive tackle in '90
Travis Hill: All-America outside linebacker in '92
Aaron Graham: All-America center in '95
Aaron Taylor: All-America offensive lineman in '96-97, Outland winner
Keyuo Craver: All-America corner in '01
Rex Burkhead: All-Big 12 in '11, 3,329 career rushing yards

Letterwinners: 96

Hot streak: Osborne feasted on Texas in the late '80s, grabbing Thomas in '85, Young, Glaser and Walker in '86 and Hill in '88. That's five future All-Americans in three years.

Worthy of note: Texas has produced 10 NU All-Americans, second only to the state of Nebraska (38). How deep is NU's Lone Star State tradition? Look who we left off the top 11: 1991 Big Eight offensive player of the year Keithen McCant, 2003 All-Big 12 linebacker Demorrio Williams, 1978 All-American Kelvin Clark.

2. CALIFORNIA

NU'S ALL-CALIFORNIA TEAM

Ralph Brown: All-American cornerback in '99
Bob Newton: All-American offensive tackle in '70
Vince Ferragamo: All-American quarterback in '76
Jarvis Redwine: All-American I-back in '80
Steve Taylor: All-American quarterback in '87
Derek Brown: All-Big 8 I-back in '91-92, 2,699 career yards
Brendan Stai: All-American guard in '94
Lawrence Phillips: All-Big 8 I-back in '94, sixth overall pick in '96 draft
Michael Booker: All-Big 12 in '96, 11th pick in the '97 draft
Roy Helu: Starting I-back '09-10, 3,404 career rushing yards
Taylor Martinez: All-Big Ten quarterback in '12, school leader in total yards, 9,449

Letterwinners: 100

Hot streak: How's this for a four-year span: Phillips and Booker in '93, All-Big 12 tight end Sheldon Jackson in '94 and Brown in '96.

Worthy of note: No recruiting state has been more consistent than California over the years, from Bob Terrio (the leading tackler on the '71 Huskers) to Taylor Martinez four decades later. But Big Ten schools don't recruit California well. Can Nebraska buck the trend?

3. NEW JERSEY

NU'S ALL-NEW JERSEY TEAM

Mike Rozier: All-America I-back in '83, Heisman Trophy winner
Rich Glover: All-America middle guard in '71-72, Outland and Lombardi awards
Daryl White: All-America offensive tackle in '72-73
Irving Fryar: All-America receiver in '83, No. 1 overall draft pick
Charles Fryar: All-Big 8 cornerback in '88
Jeff Mills: All-Big 8 linebacker in '89, third-round pick
Barron Miles: All-Big 8 cornerback in '93-94
Doug Colman: part-time starting linebacker in '94-95, played five years in the NFL
Christian Peter: All-Big 8 defensive tackle in '95
Jason Peter: All-America defensive tackle in '97
Jammal Lord: starting quarterback in '02-03

Letterwinners: 35

Hot streak: Two-thirds of The Scoring Explosion hail from Jersey. Fryar came to Lincoln in '80. Rozier, after one year of junior college, arrived in '81. Paul Miles ('81) became a key piece, too.

Worthy of note: Nebraska's frigid spell in Jersey. Until D.J. Singleton in 2013, NU hadn't signed a New Jersey prep prospect since Joe Dailey in '03. That should change with New Jersey becoming a Big Ten state.

4. MISSOURI

NU's ALL-MISSOURI TEAM

Grant Wistrom: All-America defensive end in '96-97, Lombardi award
Randy Theiss: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '82
Chris Spachman: All-Big 8 defensive tackle in '86
Bruce Pickens: All-Big 8 cornerback in '89-90, third overall pick in '91
Mike Rucker: starting defensive end in '97-98, 55 NFL sacks
Steve Warren: All-Big 12 defensive tackle in '99
Tracey Wistrom: All-Big 12 tight end in '00
Dan Alexander: All-Big 12 I-back in '00
John Garrison: starting center in '01-02
Keith Williams: starting guard '08-10
Will Compton: starting linebacker in '11-12)

Letterwinners: 38

Hot streak: Surprise, surprise, it's the mid-'90s again. Grant Wistrom and Rucker arrived in '94, then Warren and Alexander in '96 and Tracey Wistrom in '97.

Worthy of note: Wistrom had already taken his official visit (hosted by Trev Alberts) when, the weekend before signing day, he drove to Lincoln on his own dime to examine the Huskers one more time. His final two choices were NU and Michigan. Four years later, those two schools were the voters' choices, too. Wistrom helped make the case that Nebraska deserved the national title.

5. IOWA

NU'S ALL-IOWA TEAM

Trev Alberts: All-American linebacker in '93, Butkus winner
Laverne Allers: All-American guard in '66
Paul Rogers: All-Big 8 kicker in '70
Roger Craig: All-Big 8 I-back in '81
Henry Waechter: starting defensive tackle in '81
Scott Raridon: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '83
Jamie Williams: All-Big 8 tight end in '81-82
Bill Lewis: All-American center in '85
Todd Millikan: All-Big 8 tight end in '88
Tom Punt: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '90
Kyle Vanden Bosch: starting defensive end in '99-00, 58 sacks in NFL
Dan Hadenfeldt: All-Big 12 punter in '00

Letterwinners: 46

Hot streak: Only California sent more prospects to NU in the 1970s than Iowa did. Williams came out of Davenport Central High School in '78. A year later, Roger Craig followed him to Lincoln. Raridon and Waechter also signed with NU in '79.

Worthy of note: Would Tom Osborne have closed the deal? Who knows. But NU just missed on Iowa's top prep prospect in 1998, losing defensive end Aaron Kampman to the Hawkeyes. Kampman went on to play 10 years in the NFL.

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z
  • a
  • b
  • c
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • i
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y

TIER TWO States 6-15

TIER TWO

6. OHIO

NU's ALL-OHIO TEAM

Bob Brown: All-American in '63
Tyrone Robertson: All-Big 8 lineman in '62
Bill Thornton: starting halfback in '62
Frank Solich: All-Big 8 fullback in '65
Harry Wilson: All-Big 8 halfback in '66
Bob Taucher: Starting offensive tackle in '67
Willie Harper: All-America defensive end in '71-72, 12-year pro
Marvin Crenshaw: All-America offensive tackle in '74
Kenny Brown: All-Big 8 wingback '78-79
Lawrence Cole: Starting defensive end in '79
DeJuan Groce: All-America returner in '02

Letterwinners: 27

Hot streak: Ohio high school football may have been the best in the country in the '60s. Brown, Robertson, Thornton and Jed Rood were already on the roster when Bob Devaney arrived in 1962. By '64, Solich, Wilson and Taucher had come to Lincoln.

Worthy of note: In the Pelini era, Husker coaches have prioritized Ohio recruits. But there was a 23-year period (1975-98) in which NU had just two letterwinners from Ohio, neither of whom started.

7. MINNESOTA

NU's ALL-MINNESOTA TEAM

Larry Kramer: All-America offensive tackle in '64
Dennis Claridge: All-Big 8 quarterback in '62
Lloyd Voss: All-Big 8 tackle in '63, first-round pick in '64
Dennis Carlson: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '65
Monte Johnson: second-round pick in '73, eight-year pro
Bob Nelson: starter at linebacker in '74, second-round pick in '75
Tom Ruud: All-Big 8 linebacker in '74, first-round pick in '75
Steve Lindquist: All-Big 8 guard in '78
Russell Gary: All-Big 8 safety in '80, second-round pick in '81
Jay Foreman: starter at linebacker in '97-98, played eight years in the NFL
Nate Swift: School record holder for career receptions, 166

Letterwinners: 31

Hot streak: In the '60s and '70s, Nebraska may have landed more talent out of Minnesota than the home-state Gophers. During an eight-year span (1975-82), NU sent seven Minnesotans to the NFL.

Worthy of note: In 2004, NU signed one of the top offensive linemen in the country, Lydon Murtha from Hutchinson, Minn. His less-heralded teammate, Swift, became the more valuable Husker.

8. FLORIDA

NU's ALL-FLORIDA TEAM

Tommie Frazier: All-America quarterback in '95
Wonder Monds: All-America defensive back in '75
McCathorn Clayton: starting quarterback in '85
Mike Grant: part-time starting quarterback '90, '92
Tyrone Williams: two-time All-Big 8 cornerback '94-95
Shevin Wiggins: starting receiver in '98
Fabian Washington: starting cornerback '02-04, first-round pick in '05
Andre Jones: starting cornerback '06
Steve Octavien: leading tackler in '07
Lavonte David: All-American linebacker in '11
Stanley Jean-Baptiste: starting cornerback in '13

Letterwinners: 27

Hot streak: Feb. 5, 1992. That's right, it lasted one day. Frazier and Williams, high school teammates at Bradenton Manatee, signed to be Huskers. Nebraska hadn't been as lucky in Florida before — or since.

Worthy of note: Five of the 11 names were junior-college transfers, including All-Americans Monds and David. So Florida gets penalized in the rankings just a bit.

9. ILLINOIS

NU's ALL-ILLINOIS TEAM

Ed Stewart: All-America linebacker in '94
Fred Duda: part-time starting quarterback in '64-65
Walt Barnes: All-America offensive tackle in '65
Bob Pickens: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '66, third-round pick
Mike Wynn: starting defensive end in '69
Doug Dumler: starting center on '70-71 championship teams
Jim Branch: leading tackler on '72 team
Mike Murray: starting middle guard in '89
Johnny Mitchell: All-Big 8 tight end '90-91, first-round pick in '92
Carlos Polk: All-America linebacker in '00
Corey McKeon: leading tackler in '05, three-year starting linebacker
Joe Ganz: starting quarterback in '08

Letterwinners: 44

Hot streak: Mitchell was a big recruiting score in '89 — linebacker Daren Williams also signed that year. In '90, the Huskers signed Stewart, Bill Humphrey and Joel Gesky out of Chicagoland.

Worthy of note: Stewart, a 195-pounder coming out of Mt. Carmel High School, was recruited as a defensive back. After Nebraska switched to a 4-3 scheme in '92, Stewart thrived as one of Charlie McBride's new linebackers.

10. COLORADO

NU's ALL-COLORADO TEAM

Marc Munford: three-time All-Big 8 linebacker, '84-86
John Starkebaum: linebacker in '74, fourth-round pick in '75
Dave Butterfield: All-America cornerback in '76
Mike Knox: All-Big 8 linebacker in '83
Morgan Gregory: leading receiver in '88-89
Brian Boerboom: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '91
Cory Ross: starting I-back in '04-05, rushed for 2,743 career yards
Matt Slauson: starting offensive lineman '06-08
Pierre Allen: All-Big 12 defensive end in '10
Jeremiah Sirles: starting offensive lineman '10-13
Kenny Bell: All-Big Ten receiver in '12

Letterwinners: 45

Hot streak: Recruiting in Colorado has been steady since the '70s, but the best spurt has come in the past 10 years with Ross, Slauson, Allen, Sirles and Bell.

Worthy of note: Munford is one of only three players in the post-Devaney era to be named all-conference first team three years.

11. ARIZONA

NU's ALL-ARIZONA TEAM

Mike Brown: All-America safety in '99
Carl Johnson: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '71
Brian Davis: Starting cornerback in '86, second-round draft pick in '87
Tyrone Byrd: All-Big 8 safety in '92
Toby Wright: Starting safety in '93, second-round pick in '94
Kenny Cheatham: led the '97 team in receptions with 14
Eric Johnson: Starting linebacker in '98-99
Richie Incognito: All-Big 12 offensive tackle in '03
Eric Hagg: All-Big 12 safety in '10
Prince Amukamara: All-America cornerback in '10
Marcel Jones: Started two seasons, '10 and '12, at right tackle

Letterwinners: 16

Hot streak: Say what you want about Bill Callahan's overhyped recruiting, but his Arizona crop in 2007 was one of the most impressive one-year, out-of-state collections ever: Amukamara, Hagg, Jones, Jaivorio Burkes and William Yancy.

Worthy of note: Mike Brown's head coach at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale was a 29-year-old Ohio native named Tim Beck. Together, they won the school's first state championship.

12. LOUISIANA

NU's ALL-LOUISIANA TEAM

Neil Smith: All-America defensive tackle in '87
Leroy Etienne: All-Big 8 linebacker in '88
Reggie Cooper: All-Big 8 safety in '89-90
Mickey Joseph: Part-time starter at quarterback in '90
Tyrone Hughes: 2,791 all-purpose yards '89-92, NFL Pro Bowl kickoff returner
David White: Starting linebacker in '92, played three years in the NFL
Vincent Hawkins: Part-time starting receiver in '92
Jason Wiltz: Starting defensive tackle in '98
Barry Cryer: Part-time starter at defensive tackle in '06
Terrence Moore: Part-time starter at defensive tackle in '11
PJ Smith: Starting safety in '12

Letterwinners: 17

Hot streak: Nebraska's first-ever signee from Louisiana came in '84, Neil Smith. The next year, NU nabbed the ballyhooed Etienne. In '87, Cooper and Joseph signed. Then Hughes and White in '88.

Worthy of note: Frank Solich signed just one Louisianan in six years. His name: Jemayel "Big Smooth" Phillips. At 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, he may have been the biggest Husker recruit ever. He never played a down.

13. MICHIGAN

NU's ALL-MICHIGAN TEAM

Wayne Meylan: All-America middle guard in '66-67
Freeman White: All-America end in '65
Dick Czap: starting offensive tackle in '66
Sherwin Jarmon: starting defensive end in '69
Dave Walline: All-Big 8 defensive tackle in '70
Donnie McGhee: All-Big 8 guard in '70
Ed Periard: All-Big 8 middle guard in '70
Woody Cox: starting receiver in '71
Jerry List: starting tight end '70-72
Tom Alward: starting guard in '74
Chris Patrick: starter at tackle in '06

Letterwinners: 21

Hot streak: Three of NU's nine all-Big Eight players on the '70 championship team were Michigan natives. So was Devaney, in case you forgot.

Worthy of note: When Devaney departed, the Michigan pipeline crumbled. Since '74, NU has signed only two players from Michigan -- Antoine Bagwell, who didn't qualify in 2002; and Chris Patrick ('03).

14. OKLAHOMA

NU's ALL-OKLAHOMA TEAM

Will Shields: All-America guard in '92, Outland winner
Mike Minter: All-Big 12 rover in '96
Josh Heskew: All-Big 12 center in '98
Jason Lohr: Starter at defensive tackle in '00
Jon Rutherford: Starter at right guard in '01
Josh Brown: All-Big 12 kicker in '02
Zac Taylor: Big 12 offensive player of the year in '06
Phillip Dillard: Starting linebacker in '09

Letterwinners: 12

Hot streak: Tom Osborne took advantage of Oklahoma's demise in the late '80s and '90s, starting with Shields and continuing through Lohr and Rutherford. Stealing from OU's backyard got a little tougher when Bob Stoops showed up.

Worthy of note: On the day Shields committed in January '89, Nebraska lost the top defensive lineman in the country out of its own backyard. Junior Bryant chose Notre Dame.

15. KANSAS

NU's ALL-KANSAS TEAM

Brook Berringer: Quarterback for most of the '94 season
Lynn Senkbeil: All-Big 8 linebacker '66
Neil Harris: Starting cornerback '83-84
Jeff Smith: All-Big 8 I-back in '84
Lawrence Pete: All-Big 8 middle guard in '88
Bryan Carpenter: starting fullback in '88-89
Mike Stigge: All-Big 8 punter in '91
Lance Lewis: Starting fullback '91-92
DeAngelo Evans: Part-time starting I-back in '96
Kyler Reed: Starting tight end '10-12,caught eight TDs in '10

Letterwinners: 34

Worthy of note: Kansas is tricky to rank. Nebraska has recruited it hard over the years, but mostly for its junior-college talent. For this exercise, we credited the jucos to their native states.

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z
  • a
  • b
  • c
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • i
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y

TIER THREE States 16-35

TIER THREE

16. SOUTH DAKOTA

NU's ALL-SOUTH DAKOTA TEAM

Larry Jacobson: All-America defensive tackle in '71, Outland winner
John Dutton: All-America defensive tackle in '73
Randy Schleusener: All-America guard in '80
Kevin Seibel: Eight field goals in '82
Tom Welter: All-Big 8 offensive tackle in '86
Jon Vedral: Starting receiver in '96
Mark Vedral: Starting linebacker in '01

Letterwinners: 13

Hot streak: When you have only 13 letterwinners, "hot streak" is a relative term. But grabbing Jacobson (Sioux Falls) and Dutton (Rapid City) in a three-year span isn't too shabby.

Worthy of note: Only five states — Nebraska, Texas, California, New Jersey, Ohio — have produced more Husker All-Americans than South Dakota.

17. PENNSYLVANIA

NU's ALL-PENNSYLVANIA TEAM

Barry Alvarez: Leading tackler on '67 team
Ted Vactor: All-Big 8 defensive back in '63
Ben Gregory: Halfback '65-67, 1,036 career yards
Frank Patrick: Starting quarterback in '67
Dennis Richnafsky: Leading receiver in '67
Bob Liggett: All-Big 8 defensive tackle in '69
Bobby Thomas: Team-leading seven touchdown receptions in '76

Letterwinners: 19

Worthy of note: In '67, the Huskers' top passer, receiver, tackler and co-captain all came from Pennsylvania. Nebraska has had just two letterwinners from Pennsylvania in the past 38 years — Dante Wiley ('86) and Jerrell Pippens ('01-03).

18. WISCONSIN

NU's ALL-WISCONSIN TEAM

Jerry Tagge: All-America quarterback in '71
Dan Schneiss: Fullback, punter '69-70
Jim Anderson: All-Big 8 cornerback in '71
Ray Phillips: All-Big 8 defensive end in '76
Chris Caliendo: Starting linebacker in '88

Letterwinners: 17

Worthy of note: Tagge and Anderson played high school football together in Green Bay.

19. GEORGIA

NU's ALL-GEORGIA TEAM

Terrell Farley: All-Big 8 linebacker in '95
Dana Brinson: All-Big 8 returner in '88
LeKevin Smith: Starting defensive tackle '03-05
Alfonzo Dennard: All-Big Ten cornerback in '11

Letterwinners: 6

Worthy of note: Farley came to Lincoln via Independence (Kan.) Community College, where he made a mockery of opponents' special teams. In two seasons, he blocked 22 kicks and punts.

20. HAWAII

NU's ALL-HAWAII TEAM

Dominic Raiola: All-America center, '00
Toniu Fonoti: All-America guard, '01

Letterwinners: 5

Worthy of note: For four decades, Nebraska was the most prominent offensive line school in the country, averaging almost one first-team All-American per year. But since Fonoti in '01, the Huskers haven't had a single one on the O-line.


A few notables (states 21-35 in alphabetical order)

Alabama: Andra Franklin ('77-'80), Jeff Merrell ('80-'82), Dwayne Harris ('92-'94), Brett Byford ('06-'07), Ameer Abdullah ('11-present)

Arkansas: Willie Ross ('61-'63), Eric Warfield ('95-'97), Demoine Adams ('99-'02)

Indiana: Jared Tomich ('94-'96), Jamel Williams ('94-'96)

Maryland: Donta Jones ('91-'94), Jason Ankrah ('10-'13)

Massachusetts: Mike Croel ('87-'90), Joe Sims ('88-'90)

Mississippi: Jimmy Burrow ('74-'75), Correll Buckhalter ('97-'00), Brandon Jackson ('04-'06), Jermarcus Hardrick ('10-'11)

New York: John O'Leary ('73-'75), Lance Gray ('91-'93), Tony Ortiz ('96-'99)

North Carolina: Terry Luck ('74-'75), Eric Alford ('93-'94)

North Dakota: Bill Janssen ('69-'72), Darin Erstad ('94), Brent Qvale ('10-'12)

South Carolina: I.M. Hipp ('77-'79), Tyrone Legette ('89-'91), Kareem Moss ('92-'94)

Tennessee: Josh Bullocks ('02-'04), Daniel Bullocks ('02-'05), Barry Turner ('05-'09)

Utah: Dave Burke ('82-'84), Ryon Bingham ('01-'03), Stewart Bradley ('03-'06)

Virginia: John Adkins ('69-'71), Brian Washington ('84-'87), Larry Asante ('07-'09)

Washington: Mark LeRoy ('78-'79), Curt Hineline ('79-'81), Jon Bostick ('89-'91), Adam Carriker ('03-'06)

Wyoming: Glenn Patterson ('67-'69), Don Westbrook ('72-'74), Troy Dumas ('91-'94), Dan Titchener ('06-'08)

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z
  • a
  • b
  • c
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • i
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y

TIER FOUR States 36-43

One-hit wonders (states 36-43 in alphabetical order)

Alaska: Zack Bowman (only letterwinner)

Connecticut: Doug DuBose (only two letterwinners)

Montana: Mark Gilman (only three letterwinners)

Nevada: Dave Humm (only five letterwinners)

New Mexico: Bobby Newcombe (only letterwinner)

Oregon: Ndamukong Suh (only three in school history)

Vermont: Jeff Hughes (only letterwinner)

West Virginia: Tony Jeter (only letterwinner)

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z
  • a
  • b
  • c
  • d
  • e
  • f
  • g
  • h
  • i
  • j
  • k
  • l
  • m
  • n
  • o
  • p
  • q
  • r
  • s
  • t
  • u
  • v
  • w
  • x
  • y

TIER FIVE States 44-49

No letterwinners (states 44-49 in alphabetical order)

Delaware: No letterwinners

Idaho: No letterwinners

Kentucky: No letterwinners

Maine: No letterwinners

New Hampshire: No letterwinners

Rhode Island: No letterwinners

TAKEAWAYSIn conclusion

CONCLUSIONS

Florida futility

Perception: Nebraska needed speed in the early 1990s to supplement its Midwestern brawn, so it went down to Florida.

Reality: Nebraska has relied far more heavily on Texas and California for athletes.

Perception: The Sunshine State has been critical to NU's success over the years.

Reality: Aside from the class of 1992, recruiting in Florida has bordered on disaster.

Since Tommie Frazier and Tyrone Williams, only two Florida high school signees have developed into regular Nebraska starters — Shevin Wiggins and Fabian Washington, both of whom grew up in Bradenton/Palmetto. Two in 20 years.

The list of disappointments includes Leslie Dennis, Justin Stephens, Robert Pollard, Danny Muy, Harrison Beck, Cruz Barrett, Latravis Washington, Antonio Bell, Brion Carnes and Tyler Moore.

(In the 1980s, Nebraska signed only three Florida players — Mike Grant, Gene Chealey and McCathorn Clayton. None kept a starting job.)

Yes, Florida natives have helped the Huskers. But most were transfers, unknown to NU until they started playing junior-college ball. Lavonte David, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Steve Octavien. Andre Jones. The list is long.

All this makes Nebraska's Florida initiative the past two years so intriguing. Bo Pelini signed three Florida high school players in 2013: Boaz Joseph, Kevin Maurice and Ernest Suttles, who's no longer with the program. He signed three more this February: Zack Darlington, Sedrick King and Chris Jones.

It might work for Nebraska. But remember, Tommie Frazier was the exception to Florida recruiting, not the rule.

Big Ten Bob

Bob Devaney was 50 years ahead of his time. The architect of the modern-day Big Red focused his out-of-state recruiting almost exclusively on Big Ten country.

Devaney's staff found and developed standout after standout from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. This was the blueprint that resurrected the program.

By the 1980s, Nebraska's Big Ten factory had halted, replaced by new pipelines. Coaches seemingly spent half the recruiting cycle in California and Texas.

When NU joined the Big Ten in 2011, many expected the Huskers to resurrect their relationships in the Upper Midwest. To revitalize those Rust Belt connections. But it hasn't proven easy for Pelini's staff. If the class of 2014 is any indication, Nebraska likes its chances in SEC country more than the Big Ten footprint.

Competition from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, etc., is one reason. But the other is American demographics. Population changes. Studies have proven that the South not only produces more football talent, it produces more talent per capita.

Question is, can Nebraska find enough diamonds in the SEC rough (like Ameer Abdullah)? Or are coaches better off focusing their energy closer to home?

Knock, knock, Nebraska's here

Over the years, national observers (and local ones, too) have lauded NU's in-state recruiting, especially the walk-on program. But underrated was Nebraska's ability to poach prospects from vulnerable neighbors.

In Tom Osborne's first 10 years, only California produced as many scholarship recruits (21) as Iowa (18). In the '80s, Texas and California were No. 1 and 2. But Kansas was No. 3 (16 signees) and Colorado and Missouri were tied for fourth. As those states' programs have improved, however, Nebraska has had less luck stealing their best talent.

NU hasn't signed an Iowa prospect (other than Ben Cotton, whose dad had just taken a job on Bo Pelini's staff) since 2001. That's stunning. Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are still sources of talent, but it's been harder for NU to lure those states' best prospects, as it did 20 years ago (DeAngelo Evans, Grant Wistrom and Will Shields, for example).

Nebraska's best opportunity now may be the state of Colorado, where the Buffs have fallen on hard times.

Boom versus bust

Most letterwinners since 1962? California leads the way, followed by Texas, Iowa, Colorado and Illinois. But that doesn't tell the whole story.

It's also worth studying which states produce the highest percentage of difference-makers. And which states produce the highest percentage of busts.

Pound for pound, it's hard to do better than Nebraska's recruiting in Hawaii. Five signees, two All-Americans.

How about Oklahoma? The Huskers have signed 14 players. Five became first-team all-conference.

Arizona packs a punch. Of 23 Osborne-era signees, two were All-Americans, three more were all-conference and two others were second-round draft picks.

New Jersey may be NU's most efficient producer of talent. Of 35 scholarship signees, five were All-Americans (including juco transfer Mike Rozier) and three were all-conference, excluding walk-on Charles Fryar.

Which states have produced the highest percentage of busts? We documented the problems in Florida. But what about Illinois?

The Land of Lincoln was good to Devaney, but from 1973-2009, only six of 23 signees from Illinois became regular starters, including All-Americans Ed Stewart and Carlos Polk.

A new crop could change the trend. Projected 2014 starters Corey Cooper and Vincent Valentine are from Illinois. So are receiver Jordan Westerkamp, offensive lineman Matt Finnin and new recruits Tanner Farmer and Mikale Wilbon.

Home cookin'

There's one state omitted from this project, the most important state of all — Nebraska.

The Huskers count 96 first-team All-Americans in their trophy case and 38 were native sons. That's 40 percent.

They come from little towns like Hartington (Russ Hochstein) and Fairmont (Derrie Nelson) and from cities Omaha (Johnny Rodgers) and Lincoln (Danny Noonan).

But not one in-state position player has earned All-America honors since Eric Crouch in 2001. Why?

It's a complex issue. Some believe high school talent isn't what it used to be. Some believe Husker coaches have overlooked that talent, letting quality prospects go elsewhere.

Some believe Nebraska's offensive system doesn't suit its high school kids like the old one did. Some believe coaches don't develop raw talent — on the practice field and in the weight room — like Osborne's staff did.

Some believe a decade without a conference championship, the rising cost of college tuition and a generation of kids who don't want to stand on the sideline for four years have combined to diminish the walk-on program, cutting the pool of potential All-Americans. Some believe the drought is simply a reflection of Nebraska's record — individual honors tend to go to players on Top-10 teams.

The answer may be all of the above.

But we know this: In Nebraska's glory years, roughly half of its best players were native sons. And without that piece of the puzzle, NU's coast-to-coast recruiting has to be even better than the old days if the Huskers want to win championships.

Note: Analysis can be complicated for junior-college transfers. NU coaches may not have recruited the player until he'd already left his home state. But for the sake of consistency, data for this project is based on players' hometowns.

All-Conference honors by state


Devaney era (1962-'72)

Nebraska 28 (41 percent of total)
Ohio 8
Michigan 7
Minnesota 5
Pennsylvania 3
Illinois 3
Iowa 3
California 3
6 states with 2 or fewer


Osborne era (1973-'97)

Nebraska 74 (37 percent of total)
Texas 22
California 13
Iowa 9
New Jersey 9
Colorado 7
20 states with 4 or fewer, not including Washington D.C.


Solich/Callahan/Pelini era (1998-2013)

Nebraska 15 (25 percent of total)
California 6
Arizona 5
Missouri 4
Texas 4
Hawaii 3
Oklahoma 3
13 states with 2 or fewer, not including Canada


Total 1962-2013

Nebraska 117 (36 percent of total)
Texas 26
California 22
Iowa 13
Ohio 13
New Jersey 11
Minnesota 8
Colorado 8
Missouri 8
Illinois 7
Michigan 7
Arizona 7
Oklahoma 7
Florida 6
21 states with 5 or fewer

Note: Numbers reflect awards, not players. So a two-time all-conference honoree counts twice.

Credits

Contact the writer:
402-649-1461, dirk.chatelain@owh.com, twitter.com/dirkchatelain

Web production:
Online editor Graham Archer

Tell us what you think