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Hail Varsity Mailbag
Photo Credit: Quentin Lueninghoener

Mailbag: Husker History and Top Shot, Nebrasketball Moving Forward, and More

March 03, 2021

It’s Wednesday, and Wednesday is Mailbag Day. Let’s get to it.

NBA Top Shot is a digital card collecting site where a person can collect video clips of different moments in the NBA. If they were to have an NCAA top shot site, what are some moments from Husker History (any sport) that would be most valuable to you? (@Starkastic8) 

Mike Babcock: Going back, Johnny Rodgers’ punt return in the 1971 Game of the Century, Jim Kubacki’s 18-footer with 3 seconds remaining in the Huskers’ 43-41 upset of Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in 1958, pretty much any race Merlene Ottey won during the early 1980s. 

Erin Sorensen: This feels like cheating just a tad, but I’d say Jack Hoffman’s touchdown run in Nebraska’s 2013 spring game. There are plenty of Nebraska moments I will never forget (like Brandon Reilly’s touchdown against Michigan State because I was standing right there when it happened), but the most impactful moment for me will always be Jack’s run. I was in Memorial Stadium for that, and I remember not really understanding what was happening until it was in motion. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Memorial Stadium as loud as it was for that run, even without a full stadium.  

With that said, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the Hoffman family. They lost Andy Hoffman to brain cancer this week, and it’s just so wildly unfair. Cancer sucks (although I put it even more bluntly on Twitter the other day), and I’m just heartsick over this for the Hoffman family (and all families impacted by cancer). It just feels unfathomable after everything the Hoffmans have been through, but Andy’s legacy will live on. Team Jack exists because of the work he helped put into it, and that work will continue for a long, long time. 

What role do you think Bryce McGowens plays on next year’s Nebrasketball team? (@Starkastic8) 

Jacob Padilla: He’ll play as large of a role as he shows he’s ready to handle. Nebraska had a starting spot and 13 shots a game open up when Teddy Allen left the program, and I have to think he’ll be part of the solution for replacing that production. McGowens is pretty slight at this point, and the Big Ten is a pretty physical league. He’s going to have to make some strides physically and show he can handle that contact next season and still be effective. That being said, his talent is undeniable and Nebraska has big expectations for him. He should be a double-digit scorer and a key piece of what they’re going to do next season. I don’t know that he’ll carry the same usage that Allen did, but Hoiberg should put him in some good situations to maximize his ability to shoot to the ball and get to the rack.  

How many open scholarships does Nebraska men’s basketball have? Out of the current roster, who do you think will be remaining, including Kobe and Thor? (@CarnesRegg) 

JP: With Allen’s departure, Nebraska is currently at the 13-scholarship limit. The Huskers over-signed by one when Bryce McGowens sent in his letter of intent. I think you can probably look at a returning core of Trey McGowens, Derrick Walker, Lat Mayen, Eduardo Andre and Dalano Banton. Trevor Lakes’ plan was always to use this season to adjust and look to crack the rotation next season. Beyond that we have a lot of guys who aren’t playing much or have seen their playing time fluctuate over the course of the season, and when that’s the case you should never be surprised if someone decides to move on. Of the two seniors, I think Webster is more likely to return, though both haven’t publicly indicated if they’re leaning one way or the other. 

Any chances one of the football players will be drafted this year? (@InDaWilderness) 

Greg Smith: Brenden Jaimes should be a lock to get drafted. I think one other player surprises and gets drafted between Dicaprio Bootle and Matt Farniok. 

MB: Ditto on Jaimes, hoping the other two Greg mentions. 

ES: I think Bootle will get a look as an undrafted free agent. Maybe I’ll be surprised here, but I think he tends to get overlooked. That was the case when he was being recruited out of high school and he knows that. People look at his size and get stuck there. If he can get picked up as an UDFA, I could see him working his way onto a roster or practice squad. He’s a hard worker and doesn’t take no for an answer, so someone will get a heck of a deal out of that. 

George Kusche became Nebraska’s first Big Ten individual cross country champion by running 24.01 in an 8k race. How would you do in the approximate 5-mile race? (@dmhusker1) 

MB: Are you kidding? I’d probably still be running if I started back in the day. I was slow in the ultimate sense of the word. Let’s leave it at that. 

ES: I run about an 11-minute mile so I’m not winning any races but it works for me.

JP: How would I do? Not well.  

What do you make of the recent two-game winning streak for the men’s basketball team? (email submission) 

MB: The stretches in which the team is passing the ball and moving have been longer, less one-on-one stuff. Seeing the 3-pointers drop early also helps. 

JP: Mike’s last point there is the most important one: shots are falling, and not just the 3s. It’s a lot easier to stick with the man and ball movement when you’re being rewarded for your effort by seeing the ball go through the rim, and that can fuel your defensive effort as well. I’m just happy for those guys that they’ve finally gotten a couple breaks to go their way and have seen at least a little bit of success. For everything they had to go through to play college basketball this season during a pandemic, they deserved at least a couple more wins. 

Jackson Hannah was an elite LB coming out of high school and was really getting a push by many schools including Alabama. In his freshmen year there was talk that he may play outside that year…injury cut that down. I really liked him as a player but I can’t get a serious answer. Is he battling for that OLB spot this year? (reg frevell on YouTube) 

GS: It’s been a multi-layered struggle for Hannah since arriving in Lincoln. There have been injuries and he’s not really put on a lot of weight so far. Hopefully he’s able to put together a fully healthy offseason. He’s at risk of getting passed up by new high school and JUCO players.  

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