Summer workouts began Monday for the Huskers. Everyone is now incredibly sore. Sore to the point of someone like inside backer Joey Johnson not even wanting to get out of bed in the mornings.
Like last year, the team has broken into different lifting groups. Most of the team’s walk-ons are in one group while the remaining scholarship guys are split up into two other groups. There’s circuit training, an explosive day and a recovery day. The only real off days are on the weekends.
Nebraska is looking leaner.
“The workout hasn’t necessarily changed — little tweaks here and there, adding a little bit more explosive lifts in there — but we’re grinding,” junior linebacker JoJo Domann said. “Today was a Thursday light squat day and not only was it not very light but the rest of our lifts, we’re going balls to the wall. We thought today, Thursday light, was harder than Monday heavy. We’re in the locker room after today’s lift like, ‘Holy smokes, that was harder than Monday.’ It’s just how hard you push yourself.”
For someone like Braxton Clark, who got a pared down version of the workouts as an incoming freshman last season, the workouts are yielding big results. The redshirt freshman corner is up to around 205 pounds after arriving on campus a year ago weighing 188.
Guys like freshman linebacker Garrett Nelson and redshirt freshman center Cameron Jurgens are leading the charge for a team that’s increasingly putting more and more weight on the bar. On Jurgens: “He’s one of… maybe the strongest guy on the team,” said senior lineman Christian Gaylord.
According to Greg Smith, Nebraska will have a full eight weeks of summer conditioning this year — starting two weeks earlier than last year — that will include another session with The Program, led by former special forces commander Erik Kapitulik.
A few more quick summer updates:
>> Lookalikes: Speaking of Jurgens, the uncanny resemblance to head coach Scott Frost is a very real thing.
“It was kind of funny the first time I met Coach Frost, he said, ‘Has anyone said you look like me? Because I get a lot of people that say I look like you,’ so I laughed at that,” Jurgens recalled.
He even has members of the strength staff or other players refer to him as “Coach” in passing. State shotput records aren’t the only similarities here.
On the field Jurgens has progressed well. He’s meshing with the offensive line room just fine.
>> Barret and Bear: Sophomore kicker Barret Pickering recently adopted a dog. His name is Bear and he’s an Australian Shephard rescue. A friend’s parent found Bear and his sister abandoned and fostered the dog until they could find a home. Pickering said he couldn’t pass him up.
It’s the first dog he’s ever owned on his own, and he’s always wanted to name a dog Bear.
“I like that it would be confusing for people,” he said.
The names have already caused trouble at a few airports, to which Pickering just laughs.
It’s another step in the maturation process of the young kicker (see there’s always a football tie). He wakes up earlier than usual every morning to give the pup some attention before he has to start his days. Turns out Pickering does the kickering and now he’s trying to teach some trickering. (*Deletes account*)
(Side note: Pickering is a big fan of his new catch phrase. It high school it was a little more subtle; people just called him “Barret Kickering.”)
>> Number News: Offseason number changes continue to be one of the highlights of the offseason. Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Masker is going to wear No. 18 this season after wearing No. 11 last season. Tight end Austin Allen also wears No. 11 and Masker was forced to switch.
There might be a little bit of controversy with the number on defense though, as Clark is switching from No. 15 to No. 11. Defensive tackle Vaha Vainuku wore that number last year and didn't seem to have any intention of changing when asked about it.
Two players on the same side of the ball could have the same number, they just can't share the field at the same time. Simon Otte and Breon Dixon, both outside linebackers, both wore No. 34 last year, for example.
>> 150 Years: To celebrate 150 years of college football, Nebraska is wearing a "150" patch on their jerseys this season.
>> Family: Gaylord has two tattoos on his right arm. One on the inside of his bicep reads "I count it as a privilege," after a lullaby his mother used to sing to him and his siblings as a kid (his siblings have the same tattoo). Family is always nearby.
And now, maybe moreso than at any point in his four-plus years in Lincoln, the offensive line room feels like a family.
"I’d say we’re the closest we’ve been since I’ve been here," he said. "We’re very relaxed with one another. We just like to goof around, but at the same time, we like to get things done. So I feel like we’re going to have a good season up front because in the past we haven’t been doing that well."
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.