As Husker fans we all too often look at who we pick up every year in the transfer portal, rightfully so. We have had some explosive additions. From an all ACC wide receiver, to a young four star running back out of Oregon. But let’s take a look at how Nebraska “Rhuled” the transfer portal this year.
The additions were large in stature, filling in all of the needed positions. The talent acquisition was fantastic by the staff. And the timing was swift and promising to Husker fans. Although with all of those accomplishments, I stand firm in my belief that the reason Nebraska won the transfer portal this year was due to the retention of its roster. Some players left expectedly, but the damage was kept to six. With many standout players on 2023’s defense and a solid tight end room you may have expected a larger exodus. One like that which plagued schools such as Alabama who tied for the most players leaving into the portal this year with 27, Purdue (27), Michigan State (27), Washington (25), and Indiana (24).
Rhule often mentions his process. He is very steadfast in the creation and continuance of this process. Rhule wants to bring in young individuals out of high school and develop them into great football players and even better men. As we have all seen with the behind the scenes footage that the University put out this year, Rhule not only wants to build a team, but a family. This environment is something that people do not want to leave. With a look back at previous administrations we got used to seeing a star shooting out of Nebraska. From Ernest Hausmann (a Nebraska native) making the move to Michigan to Wan’Dale Robinson leaving for Kentucky. This year that seemed to not be the case. We are sure to see some movement in the running back room this spring due to its depth, but I don’t think there will be too many shockers on that front.
Keeping his house in order and his grass well watered, to not appear greener on the other side is a tough thing to do in today’s day and age. But Matt Rhule seems to have the maid hired and the sprinklers set to come on like clockwork. From players who don’t want to sit two years before starting, to players disliking the staff. The ability to retain everyone from an incoming class has become nearly impossible. Schools that retain the starting and backup positions while maintaining depth will start to rise.
One thing that sticks in my mind is that on a frigid black friday. After an Iowa loss. Nebraska seniors were raving about their coach. Wishing they had an extra year of eligibility to spend with this team. That is a culture that retains players. And a team that can retain players in this portal charged environment can make moves towards competing at a very high level. Coming in at number 20 this year in the transfer portal rankings with very few additions was impressive. However what we didn’t lose says more about Rhule and the future of Nebraska Football than what we gained.