The Nebraska football team has seen some major changes in the offseason. An entire new staff has taken over already, and the coaches have made their name known around the state.
When it comes to recruiting, the staff has not taken any shortcuts. Head coach Matt Rhule has been to many schools in the Lincoln and Omaha area. However, a name other than the head coach’s has come to the forefront with Husker recruiting this off-season: Ed Foley.
Foley has become well known around the state of Nebraska in the high school recruiting world. He visited more than 75 high schools since the beginning of 2023 on his recruiting trail. The Nebraska special teams coordinator has earned a reputation around the state and made it his goal to visit every school around Nebraska. Not only that, but Foley said he plans to make relationships with as many coaches and players as he possibly can in his time recruiting. All of this effort, of course, is to bring the most talented players to play at Nebraska.
“He’s actually been around twice in a real short time frame,” Lincoln Southwest coach Grant Traynowicz said. “He’s just a real personable guy.”
Foley’s personality seems to be at the forefront of conversation when players and coaches talk about the first-year Husker coach.
“He’s a really nice guy, and he’s funny, too,” Jackson Carpenter said. “It makes us think good of him, so if it comes down to a decision between a few schools, we’ll remember that.”
Foley said he is aware of the impact that his appearance can have on a young player who wants to play at the next level. In the offseason, his daily routine was rigorous, but made sure he would meet and talk to as many new people as possible.
Foley worked with Rhule as soon as he arrived in Lincoln to identify the major candidates they would look to recruit. That means, during a normal day, he had one player he was planned to meet with, but the rest of the day was open for whatever he could fit in.
This is where Foley sets himself apart. During that time surrounding a scheduled meeting, he visited whatever schools he could, and tried to talk to as many coaches and players as possible to build new relationships.
To Foley, this is nothing out of the ordinary.
“It’s my job,” Foley said. “Honestly that’s the way coach Rhule and I have recruited, and the staff has recruited. My day starts at a certain time, and ends at a certain time and I’d like to fill in that whole day.”
Although this seems like nothing out of the ordinary to the current staff, it is a change for some high school coaches. Many coaches at the high school level are not used to seeing Nebraska football coaches in their building, but it is something they desire.
A large reason as to why many of the high school coaches in the state of Nebraska were unfamiliar with this style of recruiting was expectations. The previous coaching staff in Lincoln had not gone to the extreme that Foley and his fellow coaching staff have gone to.
Bryan Soukup is the head coach at Blair High School, one of the many places that Foley visited.
“It was nice to see them taking interest and start visiting every school and kind of getting to build those relationships,” Soukup said. “With the previous staff we never really had anyone come into our school.”
Foley and his fellow coaches have no intention of comparing themselves to the previous staff, but they do have goals of their own.
Foley has a goal of visiting ‘every school in the area.’ Although, he did say he isn’t sure the reality of that, or if it is even possible. However, this is a lofty goal for a staff that is all still very new to the state of Nebraska.
Despite that, this previous offseason for the new staff was not everything that they have planned for their future at Nebraska.
“This was just one little piece,” Foley said. “Coach [Rhule] has got an unbelievable vision of playing. It’s like ‘how can we cover ground, and what can we do here.’”
Hearing this plan, the smaller schools in Nebraska may need to prepare to welcome Foley or his other fellow coaches on a moment’s notice. But, despite the goal to visit every school in the state, Foley is aware of what is most important.
Even though each school develops players to a certain level, Foley said he is aware that some schools produce much more talent and have most of the biggest recruits coming out of the state, like Belleview West, or Omaha Westside.
“There’s certain schools that have really good football players,” Foley said. “Those schools may need a little bit more attention or a little bit more traffic from us.”
Most of those schools are located in Omaha and Lincoln, which makes the Huskers’ job slightly easier. However, getting a player from in-state is never a guarantee.
In 2021, both of the top two ranked recruits according to 247Sports went out of the state to play collegiate football. In the 2022 class, the top four ranked recruits on 247Sports left the state of Nebraska to play college football.
To give Nebraska credit, a majority of the players lower down on the list went to play in Lincoln. However, it shows the job that has to be done by the new staff.
Although the job can be tireless and Foley finds himself working long days, it does have its perks. Visiting families and new areas can get a coach a taste of the area.
“I don’t miss many meals,” Foley said with a chuckle.