Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Football Staff Emphasizing Recovery and Cautious With Some Going Into Spring Practices

March 11, 2023

Inside Nebraska’s expansive new $165-million sports facility are dedicated training and recovery spaces. New strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell arrived just in time to lend his expertise. Assistants he’s hired have extensive knowledge with rehab and athlete recovery programs. Athlete health is vastly important to head coach Matt Rhule and his staff.

Player safety is a large component in the team’s winter workouts. Stretches and workouts involve expanding comfortable ranges of motion. Certain workouts are catered to positions but every player requires toughness and durability. The best ability is availability, as the staff motto goes.

“I think one of the best things we can do, again, is availability. We don’t put that on the players, we put that on us,” Rhule said. “We can’t have our best players not out on the field. They’ve got to be healthy. That starts with movement quality, gets in the regeneration, and there’s an investment from the athletic department here with the new building, to make sure that we have the best of the best in terms of recovery, regeneration and keeping guys healthy.”

Rhule’s staff inherited injuries that required accommodating this winter and into spring practice. Nick Henrich and Marques Buford are both involved in workouts but will be sidelined for most of spring ball with ACL injuries. Ty Robinson and Teddy Prochazka are in various stages of recovery from shoulder injuries. Quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Logan Smothers are also recovering.

Players like Thomas Fidone II also require some attention. Fidone has only played in one game across two seasons in Lincoln while battling knee injuries. He wanted to play last season. He said coaches hollered at him on the sidelines about not playing. Ultimately, Fidone didn’t get the medical green light and he didn’t play. The Council Bluffs native is now in incredible shape, weighing 255 pounds on his immense frame. He’s also the fastest he’s ever been, giving him confidence that his injuries are behind him.

“I think I can be the best tight end in all of college football,” Fidone said earlier this week. “I think I can be a first round pick, second round pick. It’s just I’ve had a few setbacks and the saying is one step back is setup for a major comeback. That’s how I look at it. I don’t think (injuries) changed the destination, it just changed the timing.”

Fidone said he’s completely ready to go this spring. He’s impressed in workouts and the coaching staff chose him as a leader in winter conditioning events. He immediately jumped out to Rhule during offseason workouts from a physical standpoint. The head coach said on Monday the coaching staff wants to “be smart” with the tight end, adding it’s his job to prevent repeated ACL injuries.

Last year’s starting quarterback, Casey Thompson, is coming off shoulder surgery and a brutal season. While Thompson’s recovery has gone well, Rhule said they’ll be careful with him. Thompson might be able to throw at some point but not much else. The quarterback’s been diligent in his recovery, Rhule said, and athletic trainer Drew Hamlin is ensuring a full recovery on Thompson’s end. Nebraska coaches can’t oversee throwing workouts with the Oklahoma City transfer at this point, per NCAA rules, so Rhule couldn’t confirm his activities on personal time. Thompson tried fighting through his injury and showed his toughness in getting up from repeated hits during the 2022 season. That’s where this staff’s recovery focus steps in.

“I’m sure everyone wants to be healthy, but it’s important to come back,” Rhule said. “To me, re-injury is the biggest no-no. We don’t want to have re-injury. We have to make sure things are fully healed.”

Rhule wants a physical, purposeful spring season. Grueling workouts and practices requires top-level rest and recovery so players maintain health. Rhule’s made it clear that he’s willing to sacrifice missed reps for long-term player health. In turn, the coaching staff and university are investing resources—$165 million worth in the new facility—to support those intentions.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.