There is a mentality shift taking place in Lincoln.
A lot of column space, radio hits and message board posts have been devoted to the immense roster overhaul that has taken place since coach Scott Frost and his staff were hired. Most objective observers can admit a talent upgrade was needed. Perhaps even more importantly, an overhaul of the mindset inside of One Memorial Drive was especially necessary.
On Thursday, when the head coach was asked about the notion of “offseason momentum," he offered this non-nonsense answer.
“Offseason momentum is for newspapers and fans on websites," Frost said. “Like I said, it’s time to prove it. I hope our guys are ready for it. I think they’re going to have more confidence going into this year because of the way they look, the way they feel, the way they can move, how much stronger they are. I think they’re a tighter knit group now.
"So, the offseason is going well, but it doesn’t really matter until the rubber hits the road and we get tested. We need to see if the progress that we made is going to make a difference.”
To be clear, Frost isn’t against offseason excitement. He said that any excitement they have around the program is positive. He just doesn’t want was is created to be phony excitement. Frost wants people excited because they are doing things the right way, which is what he's seeing from his players already.
Senior defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun has seen three different staffs during his time at Nebraska. He was recruited by Bo Pelini, played for Mike Riley and now gets to be part of the initial group hoping to get Nebraska football back on track with Frost.
He has noticed a change in the culture already.
“Definitely a different culture, change in culture," Akinmoladun said. "Everybody is wanting to win and that’s something that has been different from the years I’ve been playing. And it’s not just one position group. It’s not just offense. It’s collectively the coaches, the players, everybody around Husker Nation. We all want us to win and we all have that same mindset. So, it’s really nice that we have that culture now and coming into the first practice, having a really high expectation for everything.”
After a breakout season in 2017, defensive end Ben Stille will be counted on this season to be a consistent playmaker for defensive line coach Mike Dawson. Stille may have summed up the new mindset that is starting to set in better than anyone.
“When we’re putting in all that work in the offseason, that gives you the right to be able to compete on the field, but it doesn’t give you the right to win games," Stille said.
There's plenty left to prove for Nebraska, but the mentality is shifting in the right direction.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.