Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Looking to Keep His Starting Safety Role, Myles Farmer Is Balancing Competition and Leadership

June 15, 2022

It’s time for Myles Farmer to take the next step. His head coach, Scott Frost, said so.

Last April during an interview on ‘Sports Nightly,’ Frost was asked about the three starters from 2021—corner Cam Taylor-Britt and safeties Deontai Williams and Marquel Dismuke—who have since departed the program. The fifth-year coach said he’s expecting two players in particular to emerge as leaders in a defensive backs room that lost experience but is awfully crowded.

One name Frost mentioned was corner Quinton Newsome, who started opposite Taylor-Britt and wound up fifth on the team in tackles with 57. The other was Farmer, who played in every game but started the final four at safety following a season-ending injury to Williams at Minnesota.

“The biggest thing for me is those two have to take over back there. They’ve both been really good players for us, but we lost Deontai, Cam Taylor-Britt—it’s those guys’ show now,” Frost said of Newsome and Farmer. “I think, if possible, the talent is maybe improved overall from the secondary from last year, but the leadership is gone, and we need those guys to step up and help some of the new guys and young guys be consistent and reliable back there.”

Frost isn’t the only one who knows Farmer needs to take a step forward at safety. Farmer himself is well aware of it, too. The Atlanta native watched as Nebraska brought in 33 new faces this offseason—15 from the transfer portal, 15 from the high-school ranks and three from junior colleges. Of those 33, nine are defensive backs. Of those nine, three are safeties in DeShon Singleton, Jalil Martin and Kaine Williams.

Williams, who spent his true freshman year at Alabama, was an especially interesting add, mostly because of the timing. He didn’t commit to Nebraska until May 15, well after the Huskers went through spring practices. Husker defensive backs coach Travis Fisher hasn’t been shy about creating an atmosphere ripe with competition.

“It’s easy sometimes to look back and not see anyone on your tail,” Fisher said during spring ball, “but the right kind of player doesn’t ever look back to see how far someone is behind. The right kind of player, every day, just looks forward.”

So Farmer is in an interesting spot. He’s expected to be a leader and role model for the new guys in the room while also fighting to keep his starting job from those same players.

“It was my purpose to fill those roles and bring the new guys along and help them, and at the same time work on my own craft,” Farmer told ‘Sports Nightly’ last week.

Nebraska’s defense was the strength of the team last year. A key part of that was because it was an experienced group up front on the defensive line and in the back end with Taylor-Britt, Williams and Dismuke. That won’t be the case in the secondary this year, with Newsome and Farmer being the only returning players who have played meaningful snaps in a Big Ten game.

Farmer believes it’s his responsibility to uphold the culture the defense had last year. That’s why he’s trying his best to be there for the new faces in his room.

“We take these new guys and we nurture them really, we take them under our wing,” Farmer said. “If we go somewhere at night, they’re coming with us. And we let them know, you’re at home now. You have a new family, new set of brothers and we’re going to love your momma the same way you love your momma. We’re all bros here.”

Echoing what Frost said, Farmer wants to be the one in charge on the field. To be the quarterback of the defense. He wants to instill tough love, too. When it comes time for him to make a play, he wants to make it. And when it comes time for his teammate to make a play, and it doesn’t get made, he’ll get on them.

Farmer had good teachers in the leadership department last year. The moment Taylor-Britt was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals brought joy to Farmer’s heart. Nebraska fans are well aware of the peaks and valleys of Taylor-Britt’s career. But ultimately, the corner made changes, kept playing his role and he is seeing the benefits.

Farmer wants to take what he learned from Taylor-Britt and use it for his own career.

“Personality, that’s what I got from him, that’s what I learned,” Farmer said with a smile. “And just handling business as a man. Being there, people want to see you be vocal and just an all-around leader on and off the field. That’s what I learned from Cam.

“To see a guy like that that I’ve known since I’ve been here and he’s helped groom me. I watched his struggles, his ups and downs, and for him to do what he’s been waiting to do, it’s a good feeling.”

When Farmer was coming out of Westlake High School as a 3-star prospect, the game was understandably fast for him. But lately, he’s said it’s slowed down. Farmer has three interceptions and forced one fumble the past two seasons.

The ball tends to find him.

“I feel like I’m in control and I could do what I need to do,” he said.

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