The Nebraska Cornhuskers are looking to get back on the right track before Big Ten play begins. Memorial stadium will be welcoming the Northern Illinois Huskies on Saturday, September 16, at 11:00am (CT).
This will be the first meeting between the Huskers and Huskies since 1990. The Cornhuskers are coming off a loss against a talented Oregon team; they haven’t lost back-to-back non-conference games in 60 years (1957).
Before the game kicks off on Saturday, a lot can be learned by taking a look back at the last few recruiting classes fielded by both teams.
For objectivity, the recruiting site 247Sports was used to determine which team has been more effective on the recruiting trail over the past few years. The majority of the players who will be on the field Saturday were members of the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes.
Rod Carey, the head football coach at Northern Illinois, has had a difficult time attracting top level talent to DeKalb over the past few years. Due to this, NIU has committed itself to being a developmental program, meaning the players being recruited will need to be developed over time. The majority of NIU’s starters are upperclassmen, which is to be expected at schools of their nature.
NIU’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked 102nd nationally by 247 sports. The class includes Mycial Allen (3 star), Robert Jones (2 star), Chad Beebe (2 star) and Shane Wimann (2 star), all seniors who start for the Huskies.
In 2014, NIU finished with the 98th ranked recruiting class by 247 sports. Starters who emerged from that recruiting class include Christian Blake (2 star), Max Scharping (2 star), Luke Shively (1 star), Ryan Graham (2 star) and Albert Smalls (2 star).
On the other side, the Cornhuskers, who were transitioning to current-head-coach Mike Riley, finished their 2014 recruiting class rated 35th nationally.
Some notable starters who developed out of the Huskers 2014 class include Tanner Farmer (4 star), Nick Gates (4 star), Jerald Foster (3 star), Mick Stoltenburg (3 star), Luke Gifford (3 star), Josh Kalu (3 star) and Freedom Akinmoladun (3 star).
In 2015, Mike Riley’s first full season as the head coach, the Huskers recruiting class ended up being ranked 30th in the nation. Notable players to emerge out of Riley’s first full recruiting class are Eric Lee (4 star), Khalil Davis (3 star), Carlos Davis (3 star), Dedrick Young (3 star) and Stanley Morgan (3 star).
Carey produced his most talented recruiting class in 2015, hauling in the 83rd ranked recruiting class in the nation for NIU. D.J. Brown (3 star), Jordan Steckler (3 star), Nathan Veloz (3 star) and Ryan Roberts (2 star) are all starters who have developed out of the 2015 class.
In 2016, Mike Riley recruited very well and ended up securing the 26th best class in the nation. Notable Huskers already contributing early in their second season of college football are Lamar Jackson (4 star), JD Spielman (3 star) and Tre Bryant (3 star).
In DeKalb, Illinois, NIU’s 2016 recruiting class ended up being ranked as the 112th best in the nation. Some early contributors from that group of recruits include Ben Leroy (2 star), Jalen Embry (3 star) and Jack Heflin (2 star).
The average recruiting class rankings for both schools ended up being:
Northern Illinois – 94 Nebraska – 30
Clearly, Nebraska has a huge talent advantage coming into Saturday’s match up. Being the home team and having the added motivation of avenging a close loss shouldn’t hurt the Huskers, either.