Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Drake’s Takes: Spring Game Final Thoughts and Jackie Robinson Day

April 15, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes gives some final thoughts on the spring game and discusses Jackie Robinson Day. 

Spring Game 

Nebraska capped off its spring with last week’s spring game, and honestly, there’s not much else to say about it. 

Transfer and presumed starter Casey Thompson threw four passes. The first half was two-hand touch. The highlight of that segment was a long touchdown run by transfer running back Anthony Grant, where he was almost definitely touched near the line of scrimmage. Still, the speed was impressive.

Garrett Nelson was also impressive, with a couple of sacks in the first half and a generally great showing. If you’d rather look at that as a bad sign for the offensive line, there’s room to do that. 

The white team, which was just the defense, pulled out the win after picking off a pass from Heinrich Haarberg late. The red team definitely could have run the clock out and won, but I appreciate the Huskers giving the chance for a more exciting ending. 

The most notable thing was arguably how unremarkable it was. There were multiple ugly punts and a missed field goal. The offense had some struggles throughout. For all the offseason changes, a lot of things looked exactly the same as they were in the fall. 

But of course, that shouldn’t define expectations for the upcoming season. It was a scrimmage, and there’s a lot of time for any actual issues to be sorted out. There were some well-placed passes by the new quarterbacks, and the passing game leaned on tight ends despite the top players at that position not playing.

That seems to be a feature of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s offense, and it’s nice to see that Nebraska will lean on that strength.  

Jackie Robinson Day

Today is Jackie Robinson Day, marking the day Robinson made his Major League Baseball debut.

Nebraska will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of that debut, as the baseball and softball teams will wear special warm-ups and bring back Black former Huskers to throw out the first pitch.

For the baseball team, that’ll be Shawn Buchanan, a second-team All-Big Eight honoree and two-time captain in his career from 1988-91. 

The baseball program doesn’t have an outstanding history when it comes to Black players. Last year, Brice Matthews became the first Black player on the team since 2014. Still, there are a few who have made big impacts throughout the program’s history, including Buchanan and All-American Ken Harvey. 

On the other side, Nebraska softball will be bringing back Peaches James. James is one of the most successful pitchers in Husker history, being named a second-team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year her senior year. 

James is one of many successful Black softball players to come through Nebraska. MJ Knighten was a four-time All-Big Ten selection and is now the youngest active Division I softball coach at San Diego. 

Tori Tyson and Kiki Stokes are two more players that came through the Husker program and are now head coaches. Tyson had her playing career limited by injury, but is now coaching at Howard. Stokes has the head job at Upper Iowa, after being a two-time third-team All-American in her playing days.

Currently, Courtney Wallace continues to be a key contributor in her fourth year with the team. Oregon transfer Mya Felder is currently leading the team in batting average, and has been vocal about her identity as a Black woman in softball. 

It’s cool to see Black players making an impact in baseball and softball, at Nebraska and beyond. Hopefully, we can see that presence increase as the years go on.

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