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Big Red Recon: Recruiting Gains, Spring Practice and Patrick O’Brien

April 13, 2018

We are past the point in spring where the dominant talk is about how players are buying in and now guys are starting to separate themselves on the depth chart. We haven’t see that depth chart but we know there has already been one player decide to move on when Patrick O’Brien was granted his release on Thursday. Players have seemingly hit a bit of a wall with their conditioning as a lot of coaches talked this week about the need to push through and focus on executing plays properly. We are just one week until the sold out spring game on April 21. 

Class Breakdown

Husker Commits

Thomas Grayson‍, running back, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Garrett Nelson‍, defensive end, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 

Ethan Piper‍, defensive tackle, Norfolk, Nebraska

Garrett Snodgrass‍, athlete, York, Nebraska 

2019 Needs

QB 1 DL 3
RB 1 MLB 1
WR 3 OLB 2
TE 0 DB 4
OL 4 K/P 0


Additional Recon

>>Rightfully so, there has been a lot of talk this winter and “spring” that transfer quarterback Noah Vedral has been helping the quarterbacks and the rest of the offense when it comes to learning the playbook and picking up the nuances of the attack. One thing I was curious about when we got to talk to the quarterbacks on Tuesday was if Vedral was able to help prepare the team for what was coming with winter conditioning under Zach Duval.

“When people wanted to know what winter conditioning was going to be like and then what the expectations were, I was able to help a little bit there," Vedral said. "Now, the thing people forget is I was still a true freshman [at UCF last season]. I had never been through a spring with this staff, so this is still my first go around through spring. But it's still the same strength program, the workouts are similar, maybe the spacing and the timing of the workouts was different, but I was able to predict to a certain extent what we were going to do.”

>>One of the interesting stories that came out of quarterback day on Tuesday was about how Adrian Martinez and incoming running back Maurice Washington first met at the Under Armour All-America Game. Washington was the MVP of the game, scoring three touchdowns, which left an impression on everyone, including Martinez.

“I’ll tell you a little story. He was actually on the other team, so we practiced on different fields," Martinez said. "One day I ran into him while we were warming up. He came up to me and said 'Hey, man, I really love Nebraska, I’m going to visit, really like it.' I was thinking, 'OK, awesome.' I didn’t know who he was. We get to the game and the first guy scores a touchdown and I’m like who is that? Oh, we need to get that guy, I need to make sure to talk to him again. It worked out thankfully. We are really happy to have him and he looks like a heck of a player.”

>>To put a bow on the whole O’Brien saga, let’s walk through how this all unfolded. I’m told that on Tuesday, O'Brien was told that the reps were going to be divided up differently so the staff could give more evaluation to the quarterbacks that they saw as contenders for the starting job. In fact, he was moved to fourth string and may not have received a single rep during Tuesday’s practice. Then he declined to speak to media because he was upset about what happened. On Wednesday, O’Brien did talk with quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and informed him of his decision to leave. Thursday, he was granted his release from his scholarship by Scott Frost after not attending a practice in which he would not have seen any reps anyway. This is the best move for O’Brien as he was never likely to see the field here because of the system fit. The school I’m hearing about so far for him is San Jose State. 

>>Keep in mind that Nebraska likely has at least four more scholarship players that need to move on between now and fall camp. The number is three if Noah Vedral doesn’t go on scholarship this summer but most expect that will happen once things are worked out with UCF. O’Brien was the first but certainly won’t be the last player to leave.

>>On a local recruiting note, I’m hearing some positive things about where Nebraska currently stands with the Omaha Burke duo. Four-star linebacker (HV Rating: 89.5) Nick Henrich and 4-star tight end (HV Rating: 90.3) Chris Hickman. Henrich, as I reported, is still visiting Nebraska on April 17 for a practice, and still deciding on the spring game. Hickman visited last week with his mom for a practice and enjoyed his unofficial visit. Hickman will be in attendance for the spring game. The new staff has put a huge effort into making up ground with them both, and it appears to be taking hold. 

>>There are a couple of things I’m now hearing consistently about spring practice so far. The defense is clearly ahead of the offense right now. That’s how it should be at this point in spring, especially as Nebraska gets the quarterback situation ironed out. Also, the wide receivers are doing well running their routes and catching the football, but the majority of them still have far to go with their blocking. “No block, no rock” is a mantra of Frost and offensive coordinator Troy Walters. Wide receiver Mike Williams, defensive tackle Damion Daniels and linebacker Breon Dixon all consistently get praised by people I talk to. 

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