Ben Stille, Austin Allen and Deontai Williams were the three Huskers in Indianapolis representing the Nebraska football team on Thursday. Each spent nearly an hour at individual podiums, discussing a wide range of topics from who has impressed them most on the team to name, image and likeness. Coach Scott Frost also spent an hour at the podium, expanding on things he shared on the main stage and more.
With so much audio, plenty of quotes and notes will hit the cutting room floor. It’s inevitable in an environment like this but we’re going to give you an exclusive look at some of what was said that may or may not find its way into bigger stories elsewhere.
>> Now that Stille is the veteran in the defensive line room, he’s made a point of being a sounding board and mentor for those younger. He remembers what defensive end Ross Dzuris meant for him as a mentor during his freshman season, so Stille is trying to do the same. One of the younger defensive linemen he’s taken under his wing is Casey Rogers. He said he’s really been impressed with the work Rogers has put in and is excited to see what he does this season.
>> If Stille could give his younger self a piece of advice?
“I think something I guess I would tell myself is to have a sense of urgency, I guess that’s the biggest word,” he said. “When you’re young and you look forward you see four years ahead of yourself five years ahead of yourself. You’re kind of looking at the old guys at the time, and I just had such an admiration and respect for the old guys at the time. I was like, dang you’ve been doing this for a long time. I really respect that about you. Just knowing what it takes to do college football on a daily basis and on a yearly basis. What it does to you mentally and physically I just had a ton of respect.
“Knowing I had all that time I guess, I don’t think I had the sense of urgency in the present. So just really focusing on the present and having that sense of urgency in everything you do. Because everything matters. Every drill matters. Every little thing matters. Just having that mindset, I think is a big thing.”
>> Through all of its ups and downs over the past two decades, one thing Nebraska has held onto is its streak of sellouts dating back to 1962. It’s not a given, yet, that will continue in 2021.
Athletic Director Trev Alberts said Thursday he’s seen the numbers, and, while declining to divulge them, noted there’s work to do.
Allen, a Nebraska native, made his pitch for keeping it going.
“The sellout streak means a lot to a lot of fans,” he said. “I encourage Husker fans to not [let it end]. I think in my eyes, it’s not always about sellout streaks. It’s about the passion of the fans. I want 85,000 passionate fans who are giving their all to Husker athletics. I don’t want 5,000 guys who are just going to flip you off and call you this and that. You don’t need that.
“It’s Husker athletics, though. Fans are going to say what they want to say on a loss and they’re going to say what they want to say on a win. So, come one, come all, and let’s keep the sellout streak going.”
>> Quarterback Adrian Martinez may not have been at Big Ten Media Days, but he was discussed plenty. Allen had one of the more interesting notes on Martinez as he heads into the new season.
“Adrian is super, super confident right now,” Allen said. “That’s all I’ve got to say about it. He has nothing to lose. He’ll tell you that he has had a couple of off years, the last couple of years. He had a great freshman year, trimmed down 15 pounds this last offseason. He’s the second fastest guy on the team. It’s crazy. I think you’re going to see a completely different Adrian than we’ve seen the last couple of years and it’s going to be for the better as a leader and as a player and in his character.”
>> What is an area Allen would like to work on personally?
“It would probably be my biggest weakness, my run-blocking, but I’m not going to say that’s what’s hurting me as a football player. I feel like it’s up to par, in golf terms.”
>> When asked about some guys who seem like they could take a step, Frost said he was really looking forward to seeing inside linebacker Nick Henrich play this upcoming season. In all, Frost feels like the linebacker group should be able to run better than it has in the past.
>> Stille said Oliver Martin might be the strongest guy on the team pound-for-pound.
>> Frost was asked about whether they have a guy who handles portal stuff.
“We have a couple guys that are looking at the transfer portal,” he said. “We get reports on it every day. If there’s someone of interest, then that gets passed along to assistant coaches to evaluate and then potentially up to me, then legwork’s done. We have a good process for that.”
>> Stille was asked about the preseason poll picking Nebraska fifth in the Big Ten West. Needless to say, it was news to him.
“This is my first time hearing of it,” he said. “But I think we need to prove something on the field to deserve anything else. And so it really has no effect on us. We’re gonna continue to do what we do and control what we can control.”
>> “We say he runs like a deer.”
Who is Williams talking about? None other than Zavier Betts. He’s a player that Williams thinks has all the potential in the world but doesn’t yet know it. “He could be very good,” Williams said.
As for the toughest player for Williams to cover right now, he quickly answered with Samori Touré.
>> What has life been like balancing being a father and a football player for Williams?
“Everything I try to do is professional, on and off the field. Managing time is something I had to learn when my son was born. I was never good with time. Managing all that is just a practice, you know? A practice for me and the next level, and after I retire from the NFL, putting in time, making my own business, foundations, spending time with kids around the world and my family as well. It’s just a growing period, basically, in my life. College football has been a growing period in my life.”
As for his goals in 2021?
“To show the world that we can change the narrative of Nebraska Cornhusker football.”