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Mailbag: Lavonte David’s Career, Nadab Joseph’s Future, Opting Out

August 25, 2020
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Wednesday means it’s mailbag time, so let’s get right to it.

With many NFL players starting to announce they will not play next season due to the pandemic, do you think that will encourage more college students (maybe those who have NFL futures or were worried about backlash) to follow suit? (@Sal_Vasta3)

Erin Sorensen: Maybe. I think college athletes will worry about lack of playing time affecting their futures, regardless of what those in the NFL might do. I think seeing professional athletes make a decision could help them make theirs, but it’s a different scenario. College athletes may have their scholarships honored if they opt out but what happens if it’s their senior season? If their school is able to play some sort of schedule but they’re not playing, does it affect their chance at being invited to things like the NFL Combine or their chance at being drafted? Those questions are likely going to drive more of your decisions for student-athletes. For those that are younger or maybe don’t have professional dreams? Sure, seeing their favorite NFL athletes (or any professional athlete for that matter) may help them make whatever decision it is that they make. (Although this did just happen, so what do I know.)

Mike Babcock: I do think more college athletes will follow that example, to the point at which the collegiate season will be in jeopardy—just as the NFL season could be in jeopardy. MLB and the NBA will be models for the NFL If problems in those sports increase (MLB’s Marlins), the NFL might back away. It involves more contact and testing. And if the NFL backs away, many college athletes are likely to do the same.

Derek Peterson: If we start seeing big-name NFL guys opting out of a 2020 season, then yes, I do think college players will follow suit. Their scholarships will be honored if they elect to not play, and if their future at the school is impacted by such a decision, that’s not the school or the staff that cares most about what’s in their best interest. I also think if the season gets pushed to the spring you’ll see a lot of the projected top of the NFL Draft board opt to sit out.

What is the take on the college football playoff? Does it expand from four teams? (@serk1124)

Brandon Vogel: I think there’s too much uncertainty over the season as a whole right now to focus too much on expanding the Playoff. It would make sense in theory for a season that could have conference-only play. Getting more teams in would decrease the likelihood of getting the selections wrong, but at this point I’m just hoping they can get a conference-only season in. The regular old four-team Playoff at the end of that would feel like a bonus.

Greg Smith: Talk about a topic that would be front and center if not for the current climate. I do think it gets expanded relatively soon. I just don’t think there’s going to be much desire to push that through now given the problems trying to get conference-only schedules played.

Scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you there will be a college football season this fall? 1 being you think there’s no chance and 10 being they will for sure have it. (@alex_olson21)

BV: Mark me down for a six on the proposition that there will be some college football this fall. A month ago, I was probably approaching an eight.

ES: I’m around a five. Like Brandon, I was around an eight about a month ago. I go back and forth on what I think will happen, so I think going 50-50 right now feels right.

Jacob Padilla: I’m at a 5 or 6 as well. They’re definitely going to try, but we only have one more month until games are supposed to start and it doesn’t seem like things are trending in the right direction quickly enough to feel confident they’ll be able to pull it off.

MB: I’m at 4, tops.

DP: I just want to copy and paste what Brandon wrote. But I won’t. Six.

When is Nadab Joseph expected on campus? And does he have a legit shot/expectation to be a starter this season? (@Sal_Vasta3)

JP: I don’t know when he’s supposed to arrive, but I’d imagine it has to be soon. He certainly throws a wrench into what I thought was a fairly easy group to figure out based on what we’ve seen and heard – Bootle and Taylor-Britt at corner, Dismuke and Williams at safety and Clark, Newsome and Farmer primarily competing for back-up and sub-package reps. If Joseph is truly as talented as his pedigree suggests, he’ll likely leapfrog at least Clark and Newsome at corner and could push Taylor-Britt as well (we’re high on him, but we have yet to see him play full-time as an outside corner). Perhaps this leads to Nebraska playing more true nickel looks than its base defense with all three of Bootle, Taylor-Britt and Joseph out there. Travis Fisher certainly has some options.

DP: I like the last option Jacob presented the best. Some kind of rover position would suit Taylor-Britt well. Him and JoJo Domann. Nebraska has two guys on the roster where, if it wanted to, it could get hella creative with. If Joseph is as advertised, it might come down to the simple question of who’s going to be a more consistent playmaker: Caleb Tannor or Cam Taylor-Britt?

Let’s say the Big Ten reduces the number of players on the roster. What players would you pick to play both sides if the ball? What position would they play? (@Corn_Huskers)

ES: Linemen are usually a safe enough bet, right? Someone from the offensive line could swap to the defensive line or vice versa.

JP: Just how much are we reducing the roster? I think you need to establish that ground rule before we can really dive into this. Derek did a great breakdown on this a while ago and we discussed it a little more in the comments.

At the end of his career, do you think Lavonte David will be in the Hall of Fame? (@Sal_Vasta3)

GS: Yes, I think he makes the hall. David has spent his entire career underrated but when he is done folks will look up and think, “Wait a second, he was one of the best linebackers of his era.” He will also have the numbers to back it up.

JP: He definitely will deserve it, but it doesn’t seem like those in and around the NFL pay much attention to anything he does in his career so I won’t be surprised if he’s one of those really good players who has a long wait to get in.

MB: Probably. The problem is, as Greg says, he’s been undervalued. Plus, he’s played for the Bucs. That always seems to be a factor. Put him with, say the Giants, I’d say definitely. But Bucs? He has to do more.

DP: The best thing that could have possibly happened to David’s career happened this offseason. Tom Brady brought TV cameras to Tampa. (To answer your question: yes. I recently saw a side-by-side comparison of David’s and Luke Kuechly’s careers and David had better numbers almost across the board. The latter feels like a shoe-in for the Hall, so as long as David can just get some recognition, things will work themselves out.)

Since Patrick Mahomes is part of the ownership group for the Royals, which current athlete would you want to own your favorite team? (@dmhusker1)

ES: I’m not a big Major League Baseball person to begin with, but I like the Royals. For that reason, Patrick Mahomes—who is the quarterback for my favorite team already—essentially did exactly what you’re asking. Nothing here is hypothetical for me. Mahomes is the best.

JP: Considering Robert Sarver owns my favorite team and he just sold Phoenix’s G League team to save a few bucks, literally anybody else would be an upgrade.

MB: MLB? Giants have been my team since they moved to San Francisco from New York. I’d take any owner who didn’t think Farhan Zaidi’s rebuild idea is sound, with Kapler as manager. Bring back Bochy.

DP: Russell Westbrook will own, at least in part, the Oklahoma City Thunder before it’s all said and done, which is good and right.

When does the schedule come out? (@InDaWilderness)
What will the schedule look like? Any idea if the Big 10 plans on adding extra games to make up for the loss of non-conference matchups? (@FelicioFanClub)

BV: No idea when the schedule is coming out, but schools are scheduled to start fall camp in about a week, so I would be surprised if there wasn’t some sort of determination before then. (I suppose there is a chance conferences could let the camps start and see how things go before making a decision, it just doesn’t seem likely.) As for adding games, I think adding one conference game in the Big Ten is pretty close to the limit of what’s feasible. It hurts to lose those nonconference games, but with so much uncertainty right now more games, rather than fewer, might be counterproductive to getting a season played.

When do you think Nebraska’s first football game is going to be played in the Big Ten? (@CarnesRegg)

ES: Week 0? I have no idea anymore.

DP: If Nebraska and Purdue worked together to move to Week 0, it might not be a bad idea. That current slate of games is begging for a TV-worthy one.

Does NU offer (James Carnie) and possibly take up to three tight ends this class? (@Sal_Vasta3)

GS: I don’t see them taking three tight ends in the class. But if there is a year to do it, it would be this year. Let’s say they nab Thomas Fidone. After that signing, AJ Rollins and James Carnie wouldn’t be the worst idea. Especially considering Rollins and Carnie ultimately have some flexibility to move to outside linebacker. It’s a good problem to have but some dominos need to fall.

JP: Greg has a better grasp on Nebraska’s recruiting strategy than I do, but with the team expecting a smaller class and the local talent in the 2022 class as well, I have a hard time seeing them take three tight ends in this class. Fidone will have a spot if he wants it no matter what, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaches leverage one of the Nebraska kids against the other to try to get a commitment.

Million dollars, but you have to go one year without bathing, would you do it? (@Moostakes)

BV: My gut reaction was, “no, not worth it,” but maybe there’s a path forward here. If I could spend that year, say, hiking the Appalachian Trail or biking through Europe, something where the expectation was to be filthy and my filthiness doesn’t directly impact others (too much), maybe I would entertain such an offer. The $1 million payout would also incentivize me to get in good enough shape to do either of those things as I am not currently.

ES: The money needs to be higher.

MB: Too old to accept that.

What are your favorite board/card/trivia games? What do you recommend for adults and families? (@Corn_Huskers)

GS: I love a good game of UNO. That’s my go-to right now. Can’t beat the classics.

BV: I’m up for just about any regular card game at just about any time. My wife and I have an epic quarantine gin rummy series going on (good game for two people). Cribbage is a classic. But my favorite card game—and the game that should be the state card game of Nebraska—is pitch. Four-point, five-point, 10-point, 13-point, whatever variation, I’m always in.

JP: I played a lot of card games growing up (Rummy, Speed, Kings in the Corner, Poker) but I’m not sure I even remember how to play all of those games anymore. Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of Skip-Bo, UNO and Yahtzee with my family.

MB: In no particular order: Skip-Bo, UNO and Phase 10. Yahtzee’s good. And 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles.

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