Scott Frost’s reputation with quarterbacks precedes him. The second question for Nebraska’s new head coach at the very first coach availability Monday’s Big Ten Media Days in Chicago concerned the position he played for the Huskers. It’s also a position that has produced some eye-popping numbers under Frost as a coach.
“I think we've done a great job identifying quarterbacks in our offense and developing quarterbacks in our offense,” Frost said. “I’m kind of proud of that track record.”
Then came the track record.
First there was 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. He led the country in passer rating that year. Over three seasons with the Ducks, Mariota threw just 14 interceptions (against 105 touchdowns) on 1,167 career attempts, an interception rate of 1.2 percent.
Vernon Adams, a transfer from FCS Eastern Washington, followed Mariota at Oregon in 2015. While missing three games due to injury, Adams also led the country with a 179.09 passer rating.
Frost had a slew of quarterback to choose from in his first season at UCF, making the move to true freshman McKenzie Milton in the third game of the season in 2016. Milton finished his sophomore campaign with 37 passing touchdowns and the second-best QB rating in the country behind Heisman-winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma. Milton finished eighth in Heisman voting in 2017.
The common thread between the three Frost-coached quarterbacks?
"Marcus had three offers coming out of high school and Vernon had none and McKenzie had three," Frost said. "They weren't 5-star kids. But they had the right stuff. I think our quarterback coach and our staff do a great job of identifying that and putting them in situations where they can win."
And win those quarterbacks did. The three combined to go 35-6 in the three seasons Frost mentioned, leading offenses that ranked fourth, fifth and first in the nation in scoring. That should make Nebraska's new offense one that has the attention of high school quarterbacks across the country.
"I think the things our offense can do to highlight a quarterback and develop a quarterback make our offense as attractive an offense as there is in the country for a quarterback," Frost said.
So what does a quarterback need to succeed in an offense with as good a track record of producing efficient play as any in the country?
"The number one trait that a quarterback in our offense has to have is he has to be a fast blinker, he has to be able to process information really quickly and be a step ahead of the game," Frost said. "All the guys that we've had that have excelled have had that trait."
Nebraska will open fall camp with three main candidates for the job in 2018. True freshman Adrian Martinez and redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia took the top-unit reps for Nebraska in the spring game. Sophomore walk-on Andrew Bunch led the second unit alongside sophomore Noah Vedral, a UCF transfer who must sit out the upcoming season due to NCAA rules. True freshman walk-on Matt Masker also joined the program for summer workouts.
The competition for Nebraska's top spot could grab headlines through much of August if no quarterback separates himself from the pack, but Frost has a deadline in mind for deciding on a starter.
"I'd like to make a decision at least by a week before the [first] game," he said. "I think when you're going into preparation for a game, you need to know who the guy is. We'll make the decision when it's clear who the guy is and not before. We won't wait after it becomes clear. I'm excited to see those guys compete. We've got a long way to go. We're going to play a young guy no matter what but we've got good talent there."
The Huskers open fall camp on Aug. 3.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.