http://host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/6/c4/a60/6c4a6040-af1e-11de-915b-001cc4c002e0.image.jpg" alt="MIKE LUCAS" width="108" height="103" align="left" />Tom Lemming, a Chicago-based college football recruiting analyst, wasn’t purposely turning a “blind side” to Nebraska’s recruiting efforts on Big Ten turf.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years,” he said of his livelihood — which is evaluating prospects, not acting, though he did appear in the movie “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock — “and the Cornhuskers have never been a player in Chicago.”
Lemming paused and then added, “But they will now. And they will become a player in the Midwest because they have to expand east toward Chicago, Detroit and Ohio.”
It’s all a natural byproduct of Big Ten expansion and Nebraska joining the conference as its 12th member, beginning in 2011.
“The one player I remember them getting out of Chicago was Nate Turner,” Lemming said. “He was a big catch because they beat Notre Dame for him.”
Turner, a running back/wide out from Mt. Carmel, played for the Huskers in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Nebraska’s recruiter was Charlie McBride. a Chicago native and former University of Wisconsin assistant under John Jardine.
In large part, McBride was responsible for getting Billy Marek and Dennis Lick to Madison in the mid-’70s. Both prepped at Chicago St. Rita.
McBride, who coached 23 seasons at Nebraska, including 18 as the defensive coordinator, got another player out of Chicago from Mt. Carmel; linebacker Ed Stewart, who became an All-American for the Huskers.
So it can be done.
“And because Nebraska is now a part of the Big Ten,” Lemming said, “they will have a much better shot of coming into Chicago — and Ohio and Michigan — and getting players, which they have seldom done in the past.
“Wisconsin will get hurt, maybe not greatly. But it will impact the Badgers because Nebraska will likely be going into their territory, where they’ve had success recruiting. That would be Chicago and Ohio.”
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and played safety for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meanwhile, his brother, Carl, the Huskers’ defensive coordinator, is a Youngstown State graduate.
In addition, Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson also has strong Midwest ties.
Watson, a Carbondale, Ill., native, attended the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois and coached at both schools, plus Northwestern.
“Bo Pelini hasn’t gotten many good players out of Ohio,” Lemming said. “That will change with Nebraska being in the league and he’ll take players away from other Big Ten teams.
“Lately, Nebraska has spent much of its time in California and Texas. And some of those ties in Texas may dry up now because they will no longer have a presence in the state.
“It will hurt them because the families of those Texas recruits won’t have the benefit of seeing them play against Big 12 opponents.”
Nebraska has 11 verbal commitments for its 2011 recruiting class, including two from Texas. Both prospects told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star that they were still firmly committed.
“I’m not going to lie, I was excited to be able to come back to Texas for road games,” said quarterback Jamal Turner of Arlington, Texas. “But the Big Ten has its own TV station and my family can still fly to Lincoln.”
Added Tevin Mitchell, a cornerback from Mansfield, Texas, who was also recruited by Minnesota and Iowa, “I think it’s a good thing (joining the Big Ten). There’s more competition playing against Michigan and Penn State.”
Take that as a slam at the retooled Big 12.
Overall, Nebraska has shown the recruiting ability to cherry-pick in certain regions of the country. The 2010 class has one player from Illinois, one from Ohio and one from Minnesota.
The Cornhuskers signed five high school prospects from Texas, two from California, two from Florida and two from Colorado.
Whereas the Badgers have 13 players from the state of Wisconsin, the Huskers have four from Nebraska.
“There’s not a whole lot of talent in Nebraska,” Lemming said.
The state of Texas led the way with 408 players earning D-I football tenders this year. Florida (355), California (323), Georgia (182) and Ohio (172) rounded out the top five.
Wisconsin had 25.
Nebraska had six.
“To be honest,” Lemming said, “if I’m a Midwest kid, Wisconsin has as big of a name as Nebraska does right now. And it will still come down to the ability of the coaches to recruit.
“But everyone in this conference is going to be impacted a bit with a powerhouse like Nebraska coming into the Big Ten.”