Keyshawn Johnson has a word of caution for frustrated Nebraska fans who're wondering aloud about the direction of the Husker football program five games into the Mike Riley era.
Negativity can sometimes seep its way into recruiting.
Johnson, the 11-year NFL pro, would know. His son — four-star 2017 receiver Keyshawn Johnson, Jr. — is completely immersed in the recruiting process, and Nebraska's being considered. The older Johnson also manages a seven-on-seven squad called the Team19 All-Stars, which rosters several high-profile players (some of whom are Husker targets).
So Johnson, who also played for Riley at USC two decades ago, has watched all of NU's games in 2015. He realizes Nebraska fans are frustrated with a 2-3 start.
But Johnson's take: Have some patience.
“I know coaching football is tough and fans don't always agree and understand how things go at times," Johnson said in an interview with The World-Herald earlier this week. "But at some point in time, they've got to understand it's a rebuilding situation. Sit back and let this man put his system in place."
Johnson made his point without being prompted during a lengthy phone interview. What he wanted to convey is that recruits, his son included, are often aware of the most extreme fan reactions — even if they're limited to message boards or social media accounts.
Talk of firing a coach after five games?
“Kids start questioning" things when they hear that, Johnson said. A seed of doubt gets planted. And the stronger the scrutiny, the more likely it is for other college coaches to pile on — the "blood-suckers," Johnson called them — and thus begins a negative recruiting campaign against NU.
“You want to get behind in recruiting the next four or five years? Keep it up," Johnson said. At this early point, support is what's needed most, according to Johnson.
He knows Riley well, though, which is why he can speak so confidently about Nebraska's potential.
Their relationship is a big reason why Keyshawn, Jr., is set to make an unofficial visit this weekend. He'll be joined by a couple high-profile high school teammates — including quarterback Tristan Gebbia and cornerback Darnay Holmes. They play for Calabasas (Calif.) High School, a potentially budding powerhouse located in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles and coached by former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen. Safety Marquel Dismuke, a 2016 recruit who transferred to Calabasas, has already made a nonbinding commitment to Nebraska.
We'll have more on the big recruiting weekend for Nebraska, more on the Johnson-Riley connection and more on NU's recruiting plans going forward all in Friday's editions of The World-Herald. Until then, check out the latest headlines on the Big Red Today recruiting page.