Matt Rhule’s recruiting work in his first week on the job revealed a kind of humility that will assuredly endear him to Nebraskans: his willingness to drop into a brewery toward the end of a long day and a strong set of ping-pong skills.
Between showing up to work at 5 a.m. and monitoring the opening of transfer portal season, the new Nebraska coach got busy close to home last week, connecting with prospects and their families.
Among Rhule’s most important stops was Pierce, Neb., home to pass-catching prospect Ben Brahmer, who led Pierce High to the Class C-1 state championship two weeks ago against Aurora. Brahmer, 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, caught 11 balls for 249 yards in the 40-14 win at Memorial Stadium.
He was the first commitment, in April 2021, to the Huskers’ Class of 2023. But amid the uncertainty at Nebraska since September, Brahmer has considered other options. He took an official visit to Iowa State during the season and plans to sign with the Huskers or the Cyclones during the early signing period, which opens Dec. 21.
Brahmer and his father, Pierce coach Mark Brahmer, spent 2 1/2 hours Saturday with Rhule and Marcus Satterfield — the offensive coordinator announced among Rhule’s five on-field coaching hires last week.
“My initial thoughts,” Mark Brahmer said, “he seems to be a very good person. I think he’s that kind of guy who truly cares for young men. Now after meeting with coach Rhule, I feel very comfortable with both (head coaches), Matt Campbell and Matt Rhule.
“Ben is going to have to follow his heart.”
• From Pierce, some 15 miles north of Norfolk in northeast Nebraska, Rhule and Satterfield flew 300 miles west to Scottsbluff, near the Wyoming border in the panhandle. Before visiting offensive lineman Brock Knutson, a solid commit in the 2023 class, the coaches stopped at the aptly named Flyover Brewing Company in downtown Scottsbluff.
Rhule sampled a 10-ounce oatmeal stout. He and Satterfield split a pretzel with beer cheese. Not long after the coaches’ arrival, other customers recognized Rhule. He signed autographs, took photos and talked football.