The 2019 Big Ten Media Days are set to take place July 18 and 19 in Chicago, Illinois. On Monday, the Big Ten Conference announced the representatives from all 14 programs. Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, senior linebacker Mohamed Barry and senior defensive lineman Khalil Davis are the three Nebraska players representing the Huskers alongside Coach Scott Frost.
This is the ninth year Nebraska has attended Big Ten Media Days. The Huskers joined the Big Ten Conference in 2011 and then-head coach Bo Pelini was accompanied by I-back Rex Burkhead, defensive lineman Jared Crick and linebacker Lavonte David in Nebraska’s inaugural trip. Since then, a total of 24 different players have been selected to represent the Huskers in Chicago.
Let’s break down those nine years and players by the numbers.
At first glance, you might assume Nebraska should have 27 total representatives over its nine years in the conference. However, three players have been selected in back-to-back years. Those players are Burkheard, quarterback Tommy Armstrong and wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.
Burkheard represented Nebraska in 2011 and 2012. Armstrong and Westerkamp were both selected in 2015 and 2016, however neither made the trip in 2016. The Huskers ultimately opted out of the annual preseason event after the death of Nebraska punter Sam Foltz.
Pro Big Red
Most Big Ten programs send their best players and leaders to Media Days. That’s not the case for all—quarterback Shea Patterson is noticably absent from Michigan’s list this year—but most do. Nebraska included.
Here’s a look at who Nebraska has previously sent to Big Ten Media Days:
- 2018: Mick Stoltenberg (Sr.), Jerald Foster (Sr.), Stanley Morgan (Sr.)
- 2017: Chris Jones (Sr.), Tanner Lee (Sr.), Chris Weber (Sr.)
- 2016: Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Sr.), Josh Banderas (Sr.), Jordan Westerkamp (Sr.)
- 2015: Tommy Armstrong (Jr.), Nathan Gerry (Jr.), Jordan Westerkamp (Jr.)
- 2014: Ameer Abdullah (Sr.), Kenny Bell (Sr.), Corey Cooper (Sr.)
- 2013: Quincy Enunwa (Sr.), Ciante Evans (Sr.), Taylor Martinez (Sr.)
- 2012: Rex Burkhead (Sr.), Will Compton (Sr.), Kyler Reed (Sr.)
- 2011: Rex Burkhead (Jr.), Jared Crick (Sr.), Lavonte David (Sr.)
Of those above, there are nine currently listed on NFL rosters: Burkhead with the New England Patriots, David with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Enunwa with the New York Jets, Ameer Abdullah with the Minnesota Vikings, Gerry with the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones with the Arizona Cardinals, Lee with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Morgan with the Cincinnati Bengals and Foster with the Washington Redskins.
There are three currently listed as free agents: Crick, Compton and Bell. Crick was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2012 and later was with the Denver Broncos from 2016-17, while Compton signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins in 2013 and was later with the Tennessee Titans for one season in 2018. As for Bell, he was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2015 and has had stops since then in Baltimore, Denver and, most recently, the Salt Lake Stallions of the defunct AAF.
Evans is currently in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes and Armstrong is in the Indoor Football League with the Nebraska Danger. Armstrong was also just named rookie of the year for that league. Banderas and Westerkamp have also had various stints in the professional football world—Banderas with the AAF and Westerkamp with the NFL, CFL and AAF—so they could also be considered in the group.
That means 14 (or 16, if you include Banderas and Westerkamp) of the 21 players listed of Nebraska’s Big Ten Media Days attendees currently play or have played professionally at some level. Not a bad number if you’re one of the three adding their name to the list in 2019.
Martinez is the first sophomore to represent Nebraska since the school joined the Big Ten in 2011. In 2019, he’s one of five sophomores to represent any Big Ten team in Chicago.
The five sophomores at the 2019 Big Ten Media Days are the first to attend in three years. Illinois sent then-sophomore running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in 2016.
Just the Two of Us
There are only two quarterbacks attending this year’s Big Ten Media Days. One is Iowa’s Nate Stanley. The other is Martinez.
Says something about Martinez, doesn’t it?
A Little More Defensive
Things are a little more defensive this year. The Big Ten programs are sending only 16 offensive players to 25 defensive players. Michigan State, for example, is sending all defensive players. That includes a linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle.
There are also two special teams players in attendance, including Penn State punter Blake Gillikin. The other is Minnesota walk-on holder Casey O’Brien. O’Brien’s presence at Big Ten Media Days is pretty special, too.
Per the Big Ten:
“Minnesota sophomore and four-time cancer survivor Casey O’Brien will speak on behalf of the students in attendance. Casey is a walk-on holder at Minnesota who was a promising high school quarterback when he noticed a discomfort in his knee. With the help of trainers and doctors at the University of Minnesota, it was discovered that he had osteosarcoma, which is a rare form of bone cancer. Casey beat his cancer and played high school football while going through chemo, but instead of playing QB, he was the team's holder. Cancer returned three more times, but Casey has beaten it every time and is now a proud member of the Minnesota football team.”
But Not so Defensive for Nebraska
Out of the 27 representatives from Nebraska since 2011, only 12 have been defensive players—or 45 percent. However, Frost opted for two defensive players to one offensive this year. That’s only happened twice before for Nebraska since joining the Big Ten: 2011 and 2017.
So, you know, three out of nine years. It’s the offense’s world apparently, and we’re just living in it about two-thirds of the time.
Weight of It
In case you were wondering, the East Division is sending 4,968 pounds of football player to Chicago. The West Division is sending 5,237 pounds. That makes for a grand total of 10,205 pounds of football player representing the Big Ten. And if you want to average the weight per side, the East is approximately 237 pounds per player (4,968 divided by 21 players) and the West is 238 pounds (5,237 divided by 22 players) per player.
And because you were definitely wondering about this, 10,205 pounds is the equivelent of 10,885 footballs in ounces. You’re welcome.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.