After the conclusion of National Signing Day, the future appears especially bright for Nebraska.
The Huskers have collected a dynamic assortment of talent in coach Matt Rhule's first offseason. It only adds further excitement as fans hope Rhule can revitalize the storied program.
From an impressive first recruiting class to the mentality of the new defensive line coach, here's what we learned this week in Nebraska football.
1. Recruiting haul
The final result of Nebraska's recruiting effort is 39 scholarship newcomers in the class. It marks the biggest Husker haul in modern recruiting history. “We’re not doing something special. ... We’re just doing our jobs."
National Signing Day was on Feb. 1 and Nebraska came away with a strong first class under Rhule.
Nebraska added 39 scholarship signees, the largest amount in program history during the modern recruiting era. The massive list is a combination of 28 high school/junior college players and 11 players from the transfer portal.
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Rhule credits the relationship building skills of his staff for the achievement.
“To me, the reason you go out and see as many schools as you do is so when people do have a transfer, when they do have an under-the-radar guy, they pick up the phone and they call the University of Nebraska,” Rhule said. “Because they know that they have relationships with the coaches.”
2. Rhule reportedly suing Carolina Panthers
Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule is reportedly suing the Panthers over the severance pay remaining on his contract.
Rhule is reportedly suing the Carolina Panthers because of the compensation in his severance package, according to CBS Sports. The Panthers fired Rhule on Oct. 10, 2022 with four years remaining on his seven-year, $62 million deal.
3. Rhuling the transfer portal
Another offseason banner? Of course. Nebraska usually wins the offseason. But don’t call this a dynasty. Still, Rhule has led a successful transition, and one area in particular stands out: eleven transfers, in an NIL era that Rhule had no experience in before this winter.
Rhule has swiftly adapted to the transfer portal since taking over at Nebraska. It was a stark adjustment from when the portal wasn't in existence during Rhule's previous stint in college football. Tom Shatel raves about the way Rhule has maneuvered through the new terrain and why Nebraska is positioned to be a portal powerhouse.
4. Knighton paying it forward
Football forever changed Terrance Knighton's life for the better. Nebraska's defensive line coach is now hoping to change his players' lives as well.
Nebraska defensive line coach Terrance Knighton is a former NFL player, so he believes he can serve as a source of motivation for his players.
Knighton's pitch on the recruiting trail is his ability to prepare players for the dreams that he experienced.
“All the kids have aspirations of playing in the NFL and being a guy who’s played in the NFL and played with a lot of Hall of Famers, they always ask about those experiences,” Knighton said. “Football has given me and my family everything that we have, and for a lot of the kids that I recruit football is their way out. It’s an easy conversation because I’ve been in their shoes."
5. Foley's massive recruiting trail footprint
The introductory press conference circuit continues. On Monday, it was Ed Foley and Terrance Knighton. Here's what stood out to Amie Just.
Special teams coordinator Ed Foley has already been racking up major miles throughout Nebraska on the recruiting trail. Amie Just confirms the count is up to 77 Nebraska high schools.
While acknowledging that some high schools will require more attention, Foley is striving to eventually make his way to all 280 high schools in the state.
“Yeah, I would like to get to every school,” Foley said. “I don’t know enough about the area to know if that’s a possibility of a reality. It’s not going to happen in one year based on what I’ve seen.”
6. Rhule's expectations for this season
McKewon: Sudden or ‘slow burn:’ Expectations for Matt Rhule compared to Callahan, Pelini, Riley, and Frost
Rhule is the first coach since Bob Devaney to be able to write his own story without the shadow of success looming. He’s overhauled the roster in short order — a reset move — and expectations should change from past failed hires, even though he says differently, writes Sam McKewon.
Sam McKewon examines Rhule's approach for his first season at the helm. Rhule is adamant that there's a fine line between remaining competitive while rebuilding.
Rhule says the character of the Huskers was revealed in last season's finale.
“I don’t want this to be a slow burn, because I feel like that year for them was last year,” Rhule said. “What I respected about Nebraska was that the players had just lost their coach, they’d had some tough losses and they just kept battling. If you go to Iowa the last game of the year when Iowa has to win it to win the Big Ten West and you beat them, there’s something in that locker room.”
7. More staff additions
Rhule made a couple more additions to his staff with the hirings of Mitch Cholewinski and Kristin Coggin.
Cholewinski, who previously worked at Texas the last two years, will be Nebraska's coordinator of football sports science. Coggin was formerly South Carolina’s director of performance nutrition since 2017 and will be Nebraska's football nutritionist.