Matt Rhule said he didn’t get much sleep last night. He couldn’t fall asleep until nearly 1 a.m., just a few short hours shy of his 4:15 a.m. wake-up call. Rhule said it was “out of excitement, you know.”
Rhule wanted his team to attack the spring season like the Huskers did with winter conditioning. That started early Monday morning with practice promptly at 6 a.m. Rhule wasn’t a huge fan of the early practice but he wanted to give the team the entire Easter weekend off. In order to do so, he had to shuffle a practice somewhere else. And in order to minimize impact on class schedules, that practice kicked off camp earlier today.
The first day of spring practice doesn’t typically yield a lot of news but Rhule provided a few roster updates. Returning leading rusher Anthony Grant and cornerback-to-receiver-back-to-cornerback Tommi Hill are currently suspended from the football team. Neither are in particular trouble, Rhule said they are currently both held out of practice to meet program standards. That includes school work and grades. The head coach said their statuses are fluid and could change daily.
“Nothing bad other than just our standard as our program,” Rhule said of Grant. “Good kid, just have to get him pointed in the right direction.”
Chris Hickman and Tyreke Johnson are no longer with the team and moved on from their own accord. James Carnie is also no longer with the football program. Roster turnover and departures were expected this spring. Nebraska remains over the 85-scholarship limit and needs to hit that number by fall camp.
Rhule also confirmed positional shuffles within the program already. Lincoln Southeast graduate Jake Appleget, who did not play last season although he made the travel roster to Purdue, has moved to offense. Coaches noted Appleget’s athleticism and pass-catching ability from high school so the former Knight is currently working with the tight ends group. Brodie Tagaloa, who’s still limited because of injury, has moved from tight end to the defensive line. Janiran Bonner is working out as a hybrid F-type tight end, Rhule said. Bonner arrived in Lincoln as a highly recruited receiver but could more easily see the field in that position rather than in a pure wide receiver role among a crowded field.
At his own separate interview station, quarterback Heinrich Haarberg said he’s open to a positional change. Rhule and his coaching staff have a history of shuffling athletes into positions where they can see the field. Sometimes that involves moving guys in “micro-doses,” where they try both positions in practice and see where they’re comfortable. The head coach touched on that briefly Monday morning.
“We can point to that, some of the success we’ve had,” Rhule said. “We’ve had coaches in the NFL and all these guys want to get to the NFL. I think that helps. But, again, we never make anyone do it. I’ll tell them I think this is their best shot and if they don’t want to do it, I understand.”
Haarberg continues to workout with quarterbacks after gaining praise from the coaching staff in the offseason. If Haarberg stays at quarterback, he and that group won’t throw as much in the Hawks Championship Indoor setting. Rhule wants them to throw more outdoor among the elements.