LINCOLN — High school prospects are ultimately the ones who'll feel the harshest effects of the relaxed recruiting rules in college football, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.
In an effort to deregulate its rulebook, the NCAA decided in January to ease restrictions on when and how college coaches can contact prospective players. Starting in August, there will no longer be a limit on text messaging and coaches will be allowed unlimited calls to recruits.
The impact that the increased attention could have on a teenage athlete is concerning to Pelini.
“They're going to be concentrating on things they shouldn't be concentrating on,” he said.
Pelini also worries that the amount of time coaches spend trying to lure prospects will take away from their ability to coach and tutor the players already on campus.
“There's a lot of different things that need to be talked about and resolved,” Pelini said.
To help reconstruct the recruiting process, Pelini indicated during his signing day press conference on Wednesday that he'd like administrative leaders to sit down with college and high school coaches for an in-depth brainstorming session.
“Until that happens,” he said, “it's not going to get fixed.”
Pelini said he and his staff will soon reconsider how they “go about some things” in response to the rule changes. He may alter some roles as well.
Antsy for spring
Spring practice is almost a month away, and defensive coordinator John Papuchis couldn't hide his excitement.
While speaking with reporters on signing day, Papuchis asked that the focus remain on the recruits. But the conversation merged into potential areas of improvement, and Papuchis' enthusiasm took over.
“This will be a physical spring,” he said. “We've got some tough, excited football players that are young on our defense. And they bark a lot. It's going to be time for us to put up or shut up.”
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Tackling will be emphasized, Papuchis said. To get better on defense, the Huskers need to tackle more effectively, he said.
And they'll have to practice on their teammates. Well, most of them, anyway. Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell might get a pass.
“I will tell you, we ain't gonna hit No. 3 very much. I'll tell our guys to stay off No. 8 and No. 80,” Papuchis said. “Other than that, take your shots, man, where you can.”
Bo vs. pole
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini arrived to his signing day press conference 20 minutes late and sporting a large red bump on the left side of his head.
Were the final weeks of recruiting that tough on him?
“That just happened about an hour ago,” Pelini said. “It was a pole.”
Yes, an NU spokesman confirmed, Pelini walked into a low-hanging pole. The spokesman and Jeff Jamrog, director of football operations, tried to warn the coach, but by the time they did, it was too late.
3 signees up, running
Pelini said all three of the Nebraska recruits who enrolled early and are now part of the team — offensive tackle David Knevel, linebacker Courtney Love and safety D.J. Singleton — are doing well in winter conditioning.
Love, a linebacker from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney, is “way ahead of the game” in his physical development. Singleton, a 2012 Wisconsin signee who never enrolled and instead chose Nebraska, is “on a mission” to play early at safety, while Knevel, the 6-foot-9, 300-pound Canadian export, has a ways to go in terms of development, but is willing to attack the process and do what strength and conditioning coordinator James Dobson asks him to do.
They kept saying 'yes'
When Pelini was asked Wednesday how many of the six NU offensive line recruits he expected to contribute right away, he responded: “Six.”
Not likely, obviously, but the Husker head coach said he believes Nebraska has “guys that we think can make a difference” among its 10 offensive line recruits in the past two signing classes.
NU recruiting coordinator Ross Els said the Huskers exceeded expectations with the line recruits, even if they hadn't planned on taking a half-dozen.
“It got to the point where they just kept saying yes,” Els said.
Next question, please
Pelini shared little on the decommitment of Marcus McWilson, who abandoned Nebraska late in the process to go with Kentucky.
McWilson, a four-star defensive back, is from Pelini's alma mater, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. That also happens to be the former school of first-year Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and Wildcats assistant Vince Marrow.
Marrow, a former Husker graduate assistant, had helped recruit McWilson to NU before taking a job with Stoops.
“I don't know how it happened or why it happened,” said Pelini, who was obviously ready to go on to the next question.
— Jon Nyatawa, Sam McKewon and Rich Kaipust