Jahkeem Green "Everything We’re Looking For" to the Huskers
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Jahkeem Green “Everything We’re Looking For” to the Huskers

August 19, 2019

As long as he does what he needs to, Jahkeem Green is not a guy to come in and redshirt. 

A credit transfer quirk for an online math class kept SEC schools off the table. No problem. Their loss is Nebraska’s gain because Green, a junior college transfer defensive lineman from Highland C.C., is good enough to play in the SEC. And he’s talented enough to show up at Nebraska after 10 fall camp practices and play a role for the Huskers in 2019.

“No doubt,” line coach Tony Tuioti said Monday. “He’s a guy who can play more than four games for us.”

Green practiced in pads for the first time Monday morning. He made a few plays in the run game that surprised even coaches. Learning the playbook is going to take time. Understanding how Tuioti asks his linemen to play is going to take time. But with the help of Tony Washington, a GA working with Tuioti, there’s a plan in place to get Green caught up, and there’s a desire from Green to get caught up.

“He’s doing extra stuff now, which is great, so we’re going to try and close the gap as much as we can before we get to Aug. 31 with him,” Tuioti said. “We’ve got a plan in place with Coach [Zach] Duval and a plan in place with Tony Washington, our GA, who does a great job getting extra film time and extra walkthroughs with him so he can be ready to go.”

The biggest thing will just be conditioning.

“He’s got to get himself in shape because right now he’s at two plays and after that, it’s a big drop-off from three and four,” Tuioti said. “That’s what happens when you’re not training with us for a long period of time over the summer.”

And then defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said the same thing. 

“I think we knew what kind of talent he was, he just has to get comfortable in the scheme. He's got to play himself into shape,” he said. “No matter how much you do between your last game in December and your first practice, you come in and everyone else has 15 practices on you, you're going to be a little out of shape playing yourself into football.”

The end lines are all the same. “He’s going to be a really good player for us,” or some variation. But they come with a qualifier: get in shape first. And if that’s the only issue, there isn’t really an issue. Matt Farniok had a line when fall camp officially started that was something to the effect of working with Duval is either going to get a guy in really, really good shape or really, really, really good shape. 

As long as Green is willing, Duval can be his best friend.

“He’s trying to get himself in shape,” Tuioti said. “Right now there’s a little bit of tunnel vision, as the goal is to just get him ready for Aug. 31 and play things by ear. The playbook will take time, learning technique will take time, but the natural athletic ability to just go make plays? “He’s got everything we’re looking for.”

In an attempt to help that learning curve, Green is playing just one spot right now — left end. He has the frame to play some nose, and he’ll learn that, too, eventually, as Tuioti likes to “job swap” and move his guys around all over the line, “But right now we’re just trying to have him master one position,” Tuioti said.

The expectation with JUCO guys is that they can drop into a system and be a plug-and-play option. In his experience, Tuioti has, for the most part, found that to be the case on his line, but playing for him isn’t just about finding the ball and running to it. 

There are reads to make. There are situational keys. There’s a time to go, he says, and a time to play the run, but each lineman has to know which mode they’re supposed to be in so they can execute the calls properly. “If not, then they’re just playing intramural football,” he says, “they’re playing the same way no matter what the down or distance or the situation is.” 

Those things seem to be coming along nicely with the newest Husker, so if and when the conditioning element gets worked out, Husker coaches are high on what Green can do this season. 

Other Notes from the Defensive Line

>> Tuioti gave a little update as to who is playing where. Green, Carlos Davis and Deontre Thomas are his top three guys at left end. Ben Stille, Khalil Davis and Casey Rogers are his top three guys at right end. Darrion and Damion Daniels are the two in the middle. 

On several occasions Tuioti has talked about his top seven, which seems to be made up of the Davis brothers, the Daniels brothers, Stille, Thomas and Green. He said Monday that Rogers, redshirt freshman Tate Wildeman and true freshman Ty Robinson are the next three guys pushing to get into that top seven.

>> Nebraska has played with four-man fronts at times throughout fall camp. There are also times where Tuioti has messed with a three-man front that features Damion at nose guard and Darrion at the end position. He’s trying to get as many guys comfortable playing with each other as possible.

“Our guys know in order for us to be really, really good I should be able to throw any combination of three guys and they should be able to play all three positions at a high level,” he said. 

“I don’t want there to be the same three guys out there all the time, we’ve got to be able to adjust to different people, and that’s how the game’s going to flow, too, so it’s more realistic for them. I feel comfortable with being able to mix and match any six guys that I’ve got right now.”

Over the course of the next week, reps in practice will start getting pared down as both sides of the ball form scout teams and a depth chart starts to form.

>> From Day 1, Tuioti has stressed run defense to his entire group. If you want to make the standout plays on third down, you have to do the dirty work on first and second.

“We talked about defeating the block in front of us and being effective in the run game,” he said. “That’s first and foremost for us. In order for us to have the right to rush the passer, we’ve got to be stout in the run game. We’ve got to win early first and second down to earn the right to rush the passer on third down.”

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