It’s still relatively early in the 2013 recruiting cycle, but Nebraska has already had its share of ups and downs. When it’s come to getting a quarterback to commit, results have been underwhelming at best.
Throw a few scraps of paper into a hat, each with the name of a Husker quarterback target and pick one. Which name did you pull out? Maybe J.T. Barrett who committed to Ohio State or Matt Alviti, currently slated to become a Northwestern Wildcat. Malik Zaire? Notre Dame. How about a more recent one, Anthony Jennings? Louisiana State.
Thus far, the pursuit of a 2013 quarterback commitment has been the equivalent of a Bobby Petrino afternoon motorcycle ride.
Why can’t the Huskers lock a signal caller down?
Today, we look at three factors that could weigh on a recruit’s mind.
- Nebraska’s current quarterback depth chart
As of today, the Huskers’ lineup features the following signal-callers:
Taylor Martinez, Ron Kellogg III, Brion Carnes, Tyson Broekemeier, Bronson Marsh, Tommy Armstrong and Ryker Fyfe
Five of the seven names listed have three or more years of eligibility left. The Huskers may not have much quality depth, but they certainly have plenty of bodies.
A recruit can be ready to earn his spot, state he’s “not afraid of competition,” and still be somewhat concerned about that “depth.”
Imagine you’re J.T. Barrett and you see five listed quarterbacks on Urban Meyer’s roster, two of which are seniors. Throw in a junior for good measure. That leaves starter Braxton Miller, a sophomore, and freshman Cardale Jones.
Remember a short time ago when Aaron Bailey surprised many by committing to the instate Fighting Illini? They feature five listed quarterbacks: Three juniors, one sophomore and one redshirt freshman.
Any quarterbacks in Nebraska’s class will be sitting next to two seniors, a junior, two sophomores and likely two redshirt freshman in film study, assuming everyone stays put.
When looking at a depth chart, it’s a simple numbers game. A recruit wants to see a fair number of players who will be departing soon or guys they believe they can beat out – those who haven’t been in the system too long. Nebraska’s quarterback situation doesn’t look too favorable, does it?
- Lack of Development
Have a look at Tim Beck’s title from the Huskers.com Nebraska football coaches page:
Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks
It’s one thing to split the duties of an offensive coordinator with coaching running backs or wide receivers, but working with quarterbacks is a different story.
When the instruction required for a position like quarterback plays second fiddle to other duties, the potential growth of players is stifled.
Consider that Taylor Martinez has been at Nebraska for three years with two different OC/QB coaches.
From his first start as a redshirt freshman through last season’s Capital One Bowl, how much growth have we seen? Progressing through reads, footwork, pocket presence, game management, etc. – how much has he developed?
So much so that he spent his spring break with a quarterback coach not named Tim Beck, and that wasn’t a one-time thing. That’s not a knock on Martinez, not even slightly.
That’s a knock on Nebraska’s decision to not have a full-time coach developing players at what is arguably the most important position on the field.
You won’t find many quarterback recruits who could come in and start immediately at an FBS program. They need to adjust to this level of play. Do recruits see someone who can get them to that point in Lincoln?
Another aspect of quarterback development is repetitions. I’m not talking about how many times Brion Carnes has run with the first string in practice, but rather how many snaps he’s had in games. The answer: enough to throw two passes and have two rushing attempts on the books.
Until non-starters get more reps in live game situations, recruits will continue to see little dedication to development beyond No. 1, if that.
- Martinez’s Perceived Lock On the Starting Quarterback Job
Before I begin, I do not think Martinez is the unquestioned starter. I think (and hope) that the starting quarterback’s job is the open competition that Bo Pelini consistently states it is.
What I, or any other fan, believes is irrelevant. It’s all a matter of perception.
A recruit looks at Martinez and sees a quarterback who has started for two years and likely won’t be unseated for the next two. A hypothetical four-star quarterback recruit sees the stable of young quarterbacks and wonders, “Who’s the next three or four-year starter?”
Is another quarterback going to be under center for four years? Probably not.
Has all eighteen year olds’ rationale matured enough to acknowledge that? Absolutely not.
For the sake of quarterback recruitment alone, Nebraska needs backups to not only push Martinez, but get more than clean up duty. Until then, it looks like a one man show instead of open competition.
That’s the current national perception. It may not be true, but in the end, that’s what matters the most.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @BornToBeRed247