Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Frost Talks Zavier Betts’ Absence, Thin Tight End Room and More

March 24, 2022

Receiver Zavier Betts is no longer a member of Nebraska’s football team, according to head coach Scott Frost.

Frost met with the media on Thursday inside Memorial Stadium and started things off by saying Thursday’s practice was the best of the spring.

“We’re putting in some new things on defense, we’re combining two systems on offense,” Frost said. “It just takes a while to rep some things and get better at them. Mostly, then guys just came to work today. It was a long, hard practice today and I thought they fought through the whole thing.”

But it was the roster developments the coach provided that caught attention. Betts, a product of Bellevue West High School and a four-star recruit in the 2020 class, caught 20 passes for 286 yards last season. In 18 games in his Husker career, he had 32 catches for 417 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 109 yards and one score.

“Zavier is not a member of the team right now,” Frost said.

Frost didn’t give much more info than that. When asked if he anticipated Betts would return to the team, Frost responded, “It doesn’t matter right now, he’s not a member of the team.”

Betts wasn’t the only roster news of the day. The tight end room is looking thin after Frost mentioned that Thomas Fidone II, Chancellor Brewington and Chris Hickman are all not practicing. That means the young players in the room, like Nate Boerkircher, a third-year player from Aurora, Nebraska, as well as AJ Rollins and James Carnie, are getting all the reps they could hope for this spring.

“We need some of those guys to step up obviously. James and AJ and Boerkircher, we’ll probably highlight Boerk right now,” Frost said. “He’s doing a really good job. And we need some guys to step up at that spot. Those guys are certainly getting reps with Travis out for the spring, and they need them and they’re taking advantage of them.”

Boerkircher, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, played in three games last year and caught two passes for 14 yards.

More news and notes:

>> Frost has liked what he’s seen at the offensive line, which is a unit that he’s watched rotate players at different positions.

“I’ve said it a bunch, but there’s just been noticeable improvement to me on some of the techniques and details and fundamentals,” he said. “They’ve been plugging guys into different spots, every time I look up there’s a left tackle playing right guard and a right guard playing left tackle. Guys need to be able to play multiple things so when we fit it all together and get the best five guys out there, they’re ready to do it. And I think they’re getting a lot of experience with that right now.”

>> On the running back front, Frost highlighted Rahmir Johnson, Anthony Grant and Jaquez Yant as the three guys who impressed him on Thursday. Gabe Ervin Jr., who started as the No. 1 back last season before going down with a season-ending injury at Oklahoma, is still rehabbing and looking to get closer to 100% for the fall. A couple true freshmen, Ajay Allen from Louisiana and Emmett Johnson from Minnesota, will join the team in the summer.

“Were without Gabe Ervin right now, and he’s certainly going to be a part of that mix,” Frost said. “Brody Belt can play a lot of different positions and we’re going to have some new bodies in here, too, come summer. So a lot of these positions will unfold down the road.”

>> Chubba Purdy, a transfer quarterback from Florida State, is “doing everything but live reps right now,” Frost said. Purdy had been nicked up a bit while the team was practicing in the first half of the spring.

>> The center position is one of the more intriguing questions on the offense. Both Trent Hixson and Ethan Piper have been working there.

“They’re doing a great job. They’re all smart kids and they’re doing a great job understanding what we’re asking them to do,” o-line coach Donovan Raiola said. “Obviously, the center is an important position, and just getting everyone on the same page and they’re doing a great job with it.”

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