Can Nebraska’s next coach turn back the clock?

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Nebraska has a lot going for it: A dedicated and large fanbase, excellent facilities, a storied history and membership in a Power Five conference. This is a program that, only a couple years ago, sent Ndamukong Suh to Detroit to wreak havoc on the NFL.

In one sense, Bo Pelini’s tenure in Lincoln was a success: No fewer than nine wins in each of his seven seasons, three conference championship appearances (and one fraction of a second away from knocking off Texas and winning the Big 12 in 2009) and four AP top 25 finishes. Plenty of programs around the country would kill for that success.

But in the lens of Nebraska’s history, Pelini didn’t live up to the expectations set 20 years ago by Tom Osborne’s championship-winning sides. This is a program that fired Frank Solich after 7-7 and 9-3 seasons followed AP finishes of No. 3, No. 8 and No. 8.

The goal of firing Pelini was to get Nebraska back to the national relevancy it had under Osborne from 1973-1997. But is that possible?

Let’s start with Nebraska’s recruiting class rankings in the Rivals era (2002-present).

2015: 35
2014: 32
2013: 17
2012: 25
2011: 15
2010: 22
2009: 28 (Pelini’s first full recruiting class)
2008: 30 (Bill Callahan fired after 2007 season)
2007: 13
2006: 20
2005: 5 (Callahan’s first full recruiting class)
2004: 58 (Solich fired after 2003 season)
2003: 42
2002: 40

That’s one top-10 recruiting class in 14 years and an average ranking of 27th.

In 2005, Nebraska pulled from California two four-star recruits (DT Ola Dagunduro, OL Rodney Picou) and one five-star recruit (RB Marlon Lucky). It grabbed four-star QB Harrison Beck from Fort Lauderdale, five-star CB Zackary Bowman from New Mexico and a four-star Suh from Oregon.

Compare that to Nebraska’s top-ranked recruiting class under Pelini, 2011: Four four-star players from Texas, one from California and one from Florida (Ameer Abdullah, an Alabama native) was a three-star prospect in this class). That’s not bad, but it’s not the California pipeline that once existed.

In Pelini’s final recruiting class, he signed just four four-star players: Two from Illinois, one from Missouri and one from Las Vegas.

It’s fair to wonder if Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten hurt recruiting as the program’s main base became decidedly more Midwest/Great Plains without annual games in Texas. Compare to that to fellow Big 12 defector Missouri — a school that notoriously out-performs its recruiting rankings — which, in moving to the SEC, lost some of its Texas reach but gained footholds in talent-rich states like Georgia and Florida.

From 2012-2014 the Huskers signed nine Texas natives, only one of whom earned a four-star ranking. From 2009-2011, Nebraska signed 18 players from Texas, seven of whom were four-star recruits.

So what can Nebraska do? Pelini was relatively successful at recruiting the Midwest/Great Plains, but there’s not a wealth of talent there. Bringing in a coach with strong connections in California, Texas or Florida could be a good starting point, though that’s easier said than done.

Getting Nebraska back to being an annual championship contender will be a tough task for whoever gets the job, though. It’s not the 1990’s anymore, no matter how badly Nebraska wants to turn back the clock.

Rutgers adds another Big Ten transfer with former Wolverine Michael Dwumfour

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New Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been tapping the transfer portal to help build the roster in his first year back with the Scarlet Knights. On Monday, Rutgers added another Big Ten transfer to the program with the addition of defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour. Dwumfour transfers to Rutgers from Michigan.

Schiano confirmed the latest addition to the program on his Twitter account.

Dwumfour will be a graduate transfer, so he will be eligible right away for Rutgers this upcoming season. Dwumfour played 33 games for the Wolverines, including 10 game sin 2019 with four starts. He will provide an instant upgrade to the Rutgers defensive line depth and should be thrown right into the mix for a starting job this fall.

Notably, Dwumfour is a New Jersey native. Schiano’s hiring at Rutgers has certainly had a bit of an initial impact in luring some of the state’s and regional recruits on the transfer market. Earlier this month, Rutgers welcomed Brooklyn, New York product and former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank (HERE).

Miami gets its QB with ex-Houston dual-threat D’Eriq King as grad transfer

Former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King is heading to Miami.
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A day later, De’Eriq King is officially committed to the Miami Hurricanes. King brought his transfer process to a close on Monday afternoon with an announcement he is indeed committed to Miami. King shared the news with his followers on Twitter.

On Sunday, it was initially reported by Manny Navarro of The Athletic that King was scheduled to enroll and begin classes at Miami this week. Classes at Miami begin Tuesday. However, a quote of King relayed by a Houston-based media report shortly afterward quoted King as saying he had made no final decision and was still weighing some possible options. Other options were said to include Arkansas, LSU, and Maryland.

Miami was reported early on as a possible landing spot for King, along with Arkansas. Ole Miss had also been mentioned as an option early on. King initially started his transfer process by opting to redshirt the remainder of the 2019 season after a rough start to the year for the Cougars. He said at the time he had every intent on returning to the program in 2020, but his sudden announcement during the national championship game last week made it evident he was moving on. And now, of course, he has.

King appeared in just four games for Houston last season. In those four games, King passed for 663 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 313 yards and six touchdowns before redshirting the remainder of the 2019 season. In 11 game sin 2018, King passed for 2,982 yards and 36 touchdowns and rushed for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns. King is certainly a quality talent that will add to the Miami offense and inject some new life into the program. With the right help around him, King could help make Miami an ACC Coastal contender in 2020.

King will be eligible for Miami in 2020 as a graduate transfer.

Maryland RB Lorenzo Harrison III medically retires from football

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Maryland running back Lorenzo Harrison III announced he is medically retiring from football. In a statement shared on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon, Harrison cited his history with knee trouble as a reason he is stepping away from playing football moving forward.

“[During] the last game I competed in, I suffered a severe knee injury,” Harrison explained. “Due to those circumstances which are far out of my control, I believe it is in my best interest to convert my focus from ball to the next great thing God has in store for me. With that being said, I am medically retiring from the game that has given me everything I could ever ask for.”

The last game Harrison played was on Sept. 27, 2019 at home against Penn State. In Maryland’s 59-0 loss to the Nittany Lions, Harrison had one rushing attempt for an eight-yard gain. It is in that game Harrison says his knee injury was suffered.

Harrison’s final two seasons in a Maryland uniform saw injuries get in the way of keeping him on the field and a part of the offense. Harrison rushed for 633 yards in 2017 and 622 yards in 2018 before being held to just 84 yards in 2018 and 70 yards in 2019 in a combined total of five games the last two years.

Report: Graham Harrell expected to stay at USC after interviewing for NFL job

USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to remain with the Trojans after interviewing with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
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USC head coach Clay Helton may not have to worry about finding a new offensive coordinator for the second striaght offseason. USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is expected to stay with the Trojans after interviewing for a job in the NFL, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (via Twitter).

It was reported last week the Philadelphia Eagles were set to interview Harrell about their vacancy at offensive coordinator. Whether the Eagles or Harrell decided the fit wasn’t right is unknown at this time, but it is good news for USC either way.

Last year, USC lost offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to a head coaching opportunity with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Kingsbury’s stay in USC was brief, as he took the job as an offensive coordinator after being let go as head coach at Texas Tech earlier in the offseason. USC replaced Kingsbury with the hiring of Harell from North Texas. Last month, USC locked in Harrell to a multi-year extension in hopes of keeping Harrell from accepting any other position with another program. Texas reportedly had been interested in adding Harrell to its coaching staff in Austin.