It’s that time of year when Nebraska’s draft streak comes up. The Huskers, starting with the 1963 draft, have had multiple players selected each draft. Nebraska is also one of five schools since 1967 (the start of the common draft era) to have a player taken each year alongside Florida, Michigan, Michigan State and USC.
Depending upon which mock draft you look at, both streaks might be in jeopardy. There are no surefire selections among the Huskers’ draft-eligible prospects. Nathan Gerry might be Nebraska’s best bet, but things aren’t trending up at the moment. This recent six-round mock draft from NFL.com included no Huskers.
Gerry did, however, make Pro Football Focus’s final Top 200 Prospects list. PFF has long carried the flag for the Gerry fan club, so there’s not a ton new here, but below is the quick take on Gerry:
Gerry is most effective in the box, as he is a solid run defender and can make plays against the pass underneath with his excellent feel for the game. In three years of play at Nebraska, he gave up a completion percentage of just 51.5 percent and picked off 13 passes, but his limited change of direction and playing speed could make him a liability in man coverage at the next level.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to tally up how Nebraska’s one player in the top 200 compared against the rest of the teams on the Huskers’ 2017 schedule. Here’s that breakdown by number of top-200 draft prospects:
0 – Fresno State, Maryland, Oregon, Purdue (NU’s record against those teams: 4-0)
1 – Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota (3-0)
2 – Northwestern (1-0)
3 – Iowa, Wisconsin (0-2)
4 – Wyoming (1-0)
5 – Tennessee (0-1)
6 – Ohio State (0-1)
Now, one ranking is far from the be-all, end-all, but if I told you Nebraska had one top-200 player and then asked you to guess the number on each of the Huskers’ 2017 opponents, you probably would’ve gotten pretty close to the actual tally with maybe two exceptions. I would have assumed Oregon had at least one player in the rankings and I never would’ve guessed that Wyoming had four.
A $10,000 Locker
Tom Herman might be obsessed with lockers. You started to hear the new Texas head coach make the case for renovations almost immediately after he took the job. Then he made a big show of taking a sledgehammer to the old lockers. Then, earlier this month, he unveiled the new lockers, sleek stainless steel with glowing doors, a 43-inch TV and a helmet-drying fan among other bells and whistles. (Sadly, there were no literal bells or whistles, which I definitely would’ve included just to drive the point home: “We have all the bells and whistles, including actual bells and whistles.”)
Price tag? According to this story from Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com — which really must be the greatest day in the locker industry — the new space lockers cost $10,500 each.
And, in perhaps the greatest mile-marker along the road of this sport’s ongoing evolution, the chief complaint on Twitter is not the cost, but that the very nice lockers might only serve to make Texas football “soft.” That has been a chief complaint among Longhorn fans of late because it seems to always be the complaint when a blue-blood underachieves. (Nebraska loses to Iowa? Not tough.)
Herman responded to that critique in Feldman’s story:
“A – I don’t care, but B – I think they’d rather us be soft with really good players than soft with really bad players, right? We’re not gonna be soft. We gave our guys at Houston more in 23 months than probably any other non-Power 5 school has ever given a program in that time, and the last thing you would call that team is soft. And we’re not gonna be soft here. You need good players. The finest facilities in the country attract really good players. Soft isn’t anything about what they get and the gear they get. Yeah, they have a Kevin Durant backpack instead of the standard Nike backpack. So? That’s mind-blowing to me that people would say that because you have nice things, you’re soft. No, you’re soft because your culture is soft.”
. . .
“My constituency is not the public,” Herman said. “My constituency is our players and the recruits, our former players and the coaches of the great state of Texas. As long as they know what our program is about and how we combat softness every day, then I can sleep easy. Do you wish that the casual fan would dive deeper and put the pieces together the way they need to? Certainly, but this is one of the 1,000 things you wished the casual fan would do differently or better or more accurately. You can’t concern yourself with that because they’re gonna get wrong more often than not.”
The Grab Bag
- Nebrasketball picked up a pair of new players for 2017-18 over the weekend. Does that change how you feel about this upcoming season? You can answer that question in our new poll.
- Quarterback coach Steve Calhoun offers his take on Patrick O’Brien’s spring and where he goes from here.
- Nebraska baseball took two of three from Minnesota over the weekend. Mike Babcock recaps it here.
- 5-star defensive end Micah Parsons decommitted from Penn State over the weekend.
- Michigan is in Rome with a full media circus in tow and every bit of this is making me uncomfortable.
Today’s Song of Today
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.