In 2021, Teddy Prochazka started two games at left tackle as a true freshman before a knee injury knocked him out for the rest of the year. He started three games last season before a shoulder injury ended his season once again.
This spring has been all about getting healthy and in football shape for the 6-foot-10, former top-100 recruit out of Elkhorn.
Prochazka said he lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time after his knee surgery in 2021. Ahead of his second injury, he decided to put on some weight to better prepare for what he might lose, but he went too far in the other direction. He said he topped out at 330-something pounds, though he’s back down to 324 currently.
Prochazka has been a member of the green jersey no-contact crew throughout spring.
“I’m limited, so I can do the individual stuff and then once we move to the live periods, I kind of go over to the pit is what we call it and go get some cardio work and stuff like rope work and all that stuff,” Prochazka said. “It’s getting me into shape, especially since I want to be kind of leaning out and losing some of that bad weight that I had. I’ve appreciated it. They push me to get me back into football shape, and so it’s been good.”
Prochazka said the programs new strength coach, Corey Campbell, has helped him get his feet back underneath him after his surgery and has helped him improve his agility from where it was pre-injury, even if he isn’t full-go just yet.
One noticeable change under the new coaching staff is that linemen are no longer required to wear knee braces, though Prochazka has not opted out just yet because of his previous knee injury.
“I’m a little bit superstitious with that, I’d like to protect them,” Prochazka said. “So I’m going to keep them on and if eventually down the road I get comfortable, maybe I’ll lose them, but I don’t see that happening.”
Prochazka is an outlier in the offensive line room in that regard, however.
“It was a pretty big celebration once we realized that you didn’t have to wear them anymore,” Prochazka said. “And then we looked around the room and I was the only one wearing them. So it wasn’t too much fun for me, but everyone else had a good time.”
Prochazka hasn’t been able to fully participate in team stuff as the Huskers have gone about learning the new offensive system under coordinator Marcus Satterfield, but unlike his teammates at other positions he at least hasn’t had to adjust to a new position coach with Matt Rhule retaining offensive line coach Donovan Raiola.
“It’s been good,” Prochazka said. “We get to keep the same mindset and same ideology throughout this whole transition. It’s been good for us to kind of just keep that consistency throughout … It’s pretty much just what Raiola has been coaching. We’re just going with that. Coach Rhule does a good job of kind of putting his touch onto certain things, but I feel like we’re all just moving together.”
Both Rhule and Satterfield have offensive line coaching in their background, and the linemen will occasionally see Rhule floating around and offering a word of encouragement or instruction.
“The way that they talk, certain ways that they coach and go about coaching and things that they say, you can kind of tell that they’ve been around it and they understand what the position is and how it works,” Prochazka said. “So I can definitely tell.”
That being said, it’s entirely Raiola’s room, and Rhule is allowing the offensive line coach to run his room as he sees fit.
“He’ll get on us but a lot of the stuff that we do in practice we talk about in meetings,” Prochazka said. “So if it’s something that we continuously mess up, we’re going to talk about in the meetings. He always says it’s never as good as it is, or it’s never as bad as you think it is. We always just stay on one level plane and that’s just kind of mindset you have to take into meetings and be ready to get coached.”
Taking — and giving — coaching is something Prochazka has worked on during the time that he’s been sidelined. Without being able to set foot on the field, he’s looked for other ways to make an impact on the team over the past year.
“I feel like being able to coach up your teammates and being able to coach up the guys around you in a positive way, not like ‘Oh, this the way that you’re supposed to do it,’ but just kind of giving them helpful tips,” Prochazka said. “You can tell when some someone’s not really looking for that or when they’re looking for coaching, you know how to approach that now, and then I can also take that into my game. Because if I’m coaching it and saying that, I can’t just not do it. So that brings into my game like if I’m going to hold someone else to this standard, I’ve got to hold myself to that standard.”
The standard Raiola is trying to establish with his offensive line is for the unit to see the field through one set of eyes, an area in which the group has taken strides.
“They’re getting a lot better,” Raiola said. “We talk about one set of eyes. Five guys playing as one, one set of eyes. They’re really taking hold of it and running with it.”
Prochazka said that emphasis began last season, with offensive linemen moving around campus as a pack.
“We started that last year with moving together and staying together, and that’s kind of how you have to have that mindset for the offensive line is that we’re all five guys seeing through one set of eyes,” Prochazka said. “Moving together and staying together as a unit, that just kind of helps us bond with each other and know that hey, I’m with my guy to my left, I’m with my guy to the right, we’re going to be together and move as one.”
The Huskers have reached the final stretch of spring ball with Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game just a few days away. That should mark the end of Prochazka’s time in a green jersey as he anticipates being fully cleared for the fall, but it also means he’ll have to watch from the sideline one more time as his teammates take the field at Memorial Stadium to close out Rhule’s first spring in Lincoln.
“I was saying the other day that I haven’t played in a spring game since my freshman year, so it’ll be tough,” Prochazka said. “I wish I could be out there with everyone competing, but it is what it is. I’ll be, long run, looking forward to the season in fall camp.”
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.