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Nebraska recruiting Texas hard

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One of the interesting things is Texas has spring practice for high school football.

 

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Lone star state of mind: Huskers feeling more at home in Texas

 

BY RICH KAIPUST

WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

 

 

 

LINCOLN - Texas measures 790 miles long and 660 miles wide at its most distant points, and its vastness is paralleled quite well by the number of NCAA Division I-A football players it produces.

 

 

Running back Cody Glenn is one of six Texans on the Huskers' off-season roster. NU is trying to enhance its presence in the state.

 

Nebraska used to try to cover such ground by committing three, four or even five assistant coaches to recruit it.

 

Today coach Bill Callahan is seeing what six might do for NU in Texas.

 

"We've got the whole state covered," Callahan said. "We're very much defined in how we're covering Texas."

 

Callahan is making his most extensive effort yet to re-establish the Huskers as a recruiting force in the Lone Star state. Since going on the road April 23, John Blake, Jay Norvell, Randy Jordan, Shawn Watson, Ted Gilmore and Phil Elmassian all have worked Texas, and Callahan's only trip was made to the state.

 

"If you look at the players that signed out of the Big 12 that came out of the state of Texas, it's an impressive number," Callahan said. "Just do the math. From a population standpoint, there's just numbers to draw from."

 

Now do this math: Of the just more than 100 players believed to have scholarship offers from Nebraska, 35 are Texans, according to rivals.com.

 

It's a figure developed through a combination of Texas' great talent and the relationships Callahan believes the Huskers are building in the state. This most recent travel period also was beneficial because Texas high schools conduct spring practice.

 

"From an evaluation standpoint, it's a real advantage," Callahan said. "You can get around them and be on the field, and see things like how they take to coaching and their work ethic.

 

"But what we've wanted to do this spring is get our coaches entrenched. We're establishing relationships and a rapport with these high school coaches. Instead of just hitting and missing in all these great spots, we've taken more of an 'area' concept. If you want to get entrenched, it's important for those guys to spend time there."

 

Watson and Gilmore have supplied a shot in the arm to Nebraska's presence. Both came to NU from Colorado - Watson in January and Gilmore the year before - with recruiting experience and ties in Texas.

 

"They know Texas well," Callahan said. "They've recruited Texas with good success, and they continue to do an excellent job because they have relationships with coaches. Again, it all goes back to rapport with people."

 

Callahan is sure the Huskers' emphasis will pay off, although they haven't yet received a commitment from a Texan and have just two overall. Among their three-dozen-or-so targets are quarterback Jarrett Lee of Brenham and running back Shawnbrey McNeal of Dallas.

 

Last December, after Nebraska was picked to play in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Callahan said the Huskers were devoting five assistants to Texas after having three the year before. NU has just six Texas players on its off-season roster - Terrence Nunn, Greg Austin, Cody Glenn, J.B. Phillips, Titus Brothers and Mark O'Shea.

 

The Huskers added receiver Will Henry of El Paso in February, but that left them with Colorado as the only Big 12 schools to sign fewer than six Texans. Six of NU's 21 signees in February were from California, and Callahan said the upgraded focus on Texas doesn't change the Huskers' views on the West Coast.

 

"If you look at the NFL draft," he said, "there were more players out of California than Texas and Florida."

 

As the four-week spring evaluation period concluded last week, and NU coaches returned to the office, the Huskers are now shifted to their "read and rank" process. Summer camps then begin next month, when changes in both offers and commitments are expected.

 

Callahan said the Huskers have become "so much more organized" in recruiting as the new staff settles into its third year on the job.

 

"I think we're more refined in what we're doing," he said. "In terms of our selection, we're just trying to ensure that players we offer fit our profile and fit the things we want to do.

 

"I don't care if a guy's two stars or three stars . . . we're not hung up on rankings. We're just looking for football players."

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