Spring football brings a new round of excitement for everyone. Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher was a happy man getting to be on the field with his players and described it like opening up Christmas presents. The long-time coach gets a chance to see who he recruited and brought to Lincoln with a chance to coach them up. What could be better than that?
It’s a totally different room for Fisher entering this spring. The departures of Deontai Williams, Marquel Dismuke and Cam Taylor-Britt left big shoes to fill. Seven new players are entering the mix for him. Five of those seven are already on campus working with the team. He likes what he has seen so far.
“Those guys have been excellent,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t have brought in a better group of guys. Character-wise those guys are awesome. Those guys jumped right in. For the most part, the guys that were here already were younger players as far as being on the field. But veterans as a part as a culture. Those guys have been phenomenal since they’ve been here.”
The message is clear to the returning players in the group according to Fisher. He wants them all to realize there is depth in the room. There is also opportunity. If you weren’t a guy that played 80% of the snaps during the 2021 season it’s your time to get snaps. The players that Fisher recruited this offseason came to Nebraska for a reason. They saw the opportunity to play with players leaving the program. That’s why those players were so eager to hit the field on Monday for the first practice of spring.
“I told those guys when I was in the NFL I was a starter my whole career in the NFL,” Fisher said. “Every year that I played NFL the teams brought in someone to take my spot. I’m talking every single year. If it was a first-round pick and I was drafted the second or they took a free agent in the offseason. When we showed up at camp, I had to beat those guys out. I know those guys were brought in and had the money, tags and all that. But I still had to beat those guys out. So, the mentality is the same way here. I brought in guys to not be anyone’s backup.”
It’s one thing to say that needs to be the mentality. It’s another thing for players to see it in action. One thing that helps players understand the new reality is the transfer portal. It’s a different ballgame when a guy coming in has a couple years of college experience. That same fire might not be there if you hear about a freshman coming in. A returning player knows that freshman has a big change. Getting used to college, putting weight on and learning the playbook are difficult.
There is an urgency at many positions for Nebraska this spring. Defensive back might be the most competitive spot on the team. Fisher cross trains his players so any spot can be up for grabs. That even applies to returning starter Quinton Newsome. He will need to embrace the challenge like anyone else.
“The way to look at it for me is Quinton Newsom is part of the defensive back room and he will have to practice every day to be able to touch to field,” Fisher said. “He’s going to have to come with it because I’ve got some guys that can play.”
Fisher said that so far Newsome has handled that message like a pro. How the rest of the players in the room take the clear message about competition this spring will go a long way to determine who wins spots this fall.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.