Another week brings another mailbag. The full staff is on hand so let’s get right to it.
Which professional athlete or team do you wish you would have been able to see in person? (@Corn_Huskers)
Mike Babcock: Any of the 49ers’ Super Bowl teams in the ‘80s. Arnold Palmer maybe. Satchel Paige in his prime. Bill Russell.
Jacob Padilla: This is a tough question to answer for me. Michael Jordan is the obvious first answer. It would be pretty amazing to see the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson in person too to see just how they put up the kind of numbers they did.
Kyle Kardell: Not an easy answer here, but I will go with Bo Jackson. He was one of a kind and would’ve been neat to see the superhuman in person.
If you had to choose between talent or character in a commit, which would you choose if you couldn’t have both? (@JJStark8)
Erin Sorensen: I would take character, because what is talent without character? What good is talent if it gets in trouble and can’t stay on a team? What good is talent if it treats people poorly? With that said, talent is important too. This question is tough because either reply comes with its own set of downfalls. You take character and it sounds like you’re ready to build a team entirely built on heart (which isn’t going to match up well against some of the most talented teams, let’s be honest). You take talent and it sounds like you don’t care if the commit is a good person or not (which is also entirely subjective, I suppose). You ideally want to find a balance, but that’s not what you asked. For the sake of drawing a line, I’m taking character. I caution that answer from saying too much one way or the other though.
MB: Character, without thinking twice. Hopefully, you get both. But choosing talent over character can be sort of a win-at-all-cost attitude.
KK: Character simply has more upside. It can be molded, coached and developed. You usually know what you are getting when you recruit talent.
JP: If you don’t get both, you’re not going to have your job for long. Character without talent and talent without character will both likely lead to losses because the kids who can get on the field aren’t good enough and the guys who are good enough probably will have trouble staying on the field. The reality is most teams choose the talent route and hope whatever character flaws there are can be kept in check. It’s great to have good character kids in your program, but if they can’t actually play, it won’t really matter.
Derek Peterson: Hard work beats talent when talent won’t work hard.
Let's say Nebraska gets College GameDay and goes to the B1G title game. Is Martinez actually able to push for the Heismen, or do we have to wait another year for him to develop? (@InDaWilderness)
ES: I’ve said this for a while and meant it: If Nebraska wins 10 games this season and Martinez puts up the same type of numbers he did in 2018, he will be in New York City in December. College GameDay does not matter. If Nebraska wins 10 games, it likely means the team made it to the Big Ten title game so that sort of fits together. Now, if Nebraska only wins seven games this year, I don’t think Martinez is getting invited to NYC. If you haven’t noticed, my answer is heavily reliant on the performance on the team. I think Martinez is at a level where it makes sense that he’s getting Heisman hype. I don’t think another year is needed for that to develop. The question now is if the team around him can help get him there.
MB: Erin’s got it right. Being in the Heisman conversation requires being on a team that’s in the national conversation as well. So it’s not just dependent on the play of Martinez. Right now, when his name gets mentioned in connection with the Heisman, I suspect (am pretty sure in fact) it’s out of respect for his talent not really a belief that he’s going to be in New York City in December.
JP: As good as I think Adrian Martinez can be, I don’t anticipate him putting up Lamar Jackson-esque numbers, which is pretty much the only way to be a true Hesiman contender without playing for a team that is pushing to make the College Football Playoff. You might have to wait for a year, but the wait would be for the team around him to develop more so than him developing his own game.
DP: My guy Tim Tebow won the Heisman in 2007 as a sophomore on a team that went 9-4, didn’t play in the SEC title game and lost the Capital One Bowl. That season he threw for 3,286 yards (66.9 percent clip), 32 touchdowns and six picks. He ran for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns. That was an SEC record for ground scores and an FBS record for ground scores by a quarterback. If Martinez has a season where he breaks records like that (doesn’t necessarily have to be rushing, though what would his numbers look like if the Huskers just said to hell with it with their running back room and went all in on the quarterback the way Florida used Tebow), he’d be in New York City in December even absent a Big Ten title game berth. Otherwise he’d need the team success Erin is talking about to stay on pace with guys like Tua and Trevor Lawrence.
Is Mohamed Barry NU’s Shaquem Griffin? (@sweetermanders)
Brandon Vogel: That would be nice for Nebraska if he were. Comparisons like this are always tough, but there are some similarities here. Barry took a big jump in Year 1 under this staff, like Griffin at UCF. He displays some similar traits to Griffin here in the offseason of his final year, too. I’ll put it this way: Barry is probably Nebraska’s best bet to have a Griffin-like rise.
JP: Like Brandon said, it’s tough to compare the two because their roles are different. Barry is probably Nebraska’s best defensive player and is the heart and soul of the team, so they are similar in that way. But Griffin is a splashier player as a guy who is tasked with playing on the edge and getting to the quarterback and therefore it’s easier for him to grab national attention, which doesn’t even speak to the terrific story that he is on top of his talent. I don’t think Barry will be Griffin, but I do think he is going to have a terrific season.
DP: I agree with Brandon.
What are our chances with IWCC DT Winfrey and WR Rogers? Any official word on Jahkeem Green's eligibility status? (@_LilBigRed12_)
Greg Smith: Nebraska’s chances with Winfrey are good, expect them to get an official visit. Rogers doesn’t have any offer yet from Nebraska so the evaluation is still ongoing. There hasn’t been official word on Green but he’s still expected to join the team later in the summer.
Who do you think will be the next commit? (@huskermef)
GS: I’ll go with Nash Hutmacher after takes his official visit to Wisconsin in June.
BV: Might be a race between Hutmacher and Blaise Gunnerson in early June. Give me Gunnerson, just to be different from our expert, Greg. (Note: I’ll probably be wrong.)
What's taking so long with the commits? Why aren't we getting any yet? (@ApolloSolace)
GS: Every year around this time this question pops up. Nebraska is on the same schedule is was on last year before going on a huge summer run of commitments. The last commitment was six weeks ago. By comparison, Wisconsin just got its first commitment in 5 months for the 2020 class. There is nothing to worry about.
JP: Nebraska has its quarterback, a 4-star offensive tackle and a 4-star wide receiver in its 2020 class right now, and they’re firmly in the mix with a handful of their other top targets heading into the summer. They’ve got a nice little core to build this class around and seem to be in pretty good shape to make this class something special – in due time.
Also, do the Raptors have even the smallest of chances of beating Golden State? (@ApolloSolace)
MB: I had the Bucks gliding past the Raptors, so I’d disagree with the Laker fan above. And the Warriors are my team. But I think the Raptors have a shot, particularly with uncertainty about Durant and Cousins (not sure of his status). I like the way the Raptors have scrapped. And I’m not quick to dismiss Leonard.
BV: 55% chance according to FiveThirtyEight’s model. Not saying that’s the gospel truth, no projection is, but, yes, they have more than the smallest chance.
DP: If Kevin Durant plays the bulk of the series, Golden State wins. If Durant misses at least the first two games, Toronto wins. I thought Milwaukee matched up better with the Dubs, but you can’t count out Kawhi the way he’s playing. The last time Leonard played the Warriors, he had his team up 20 in the first half and Golden State needed a dirty play to stop him. So…
JP: They have a chance – something crazy can always happen as we saw in 2016. Toronto is legitmately very good and Kawhi Leonard is playing at an unbelievable level. However, I’m taking the Warriors regardless of how many games Kevin Durant plays.