Safety Tre Neal has a unique vantage point of Nebraska's football staff. Aside from the coaches and support staff, Neal is the only person in the building that was around when coach Scott Frost and his staff first came together in Orlando.
Now that Neal has joined the staff in Lincoln, he can see the similarities and the differences of Frost's first season at Central Florida in comparison to his first at Nebraska.
“The thing that I’ve noticed the most is not even the players, it’s the coaches,” Neal said. “The first year [at UCF], that was the first year they were together and kind of worked together, it was a little bit [of] them trying to feel out each other while also feeling out the players and how to run practice and stuff like that. Now it’s Year 1 here and Year 3 for them working together.
"So there’s a smoothness and a calmness about their demeanor that carries over in practice and that’s something that helps us as a group. Some of these guys are new to it. Seeing them so calm and positive and how they’re attacking everything, it rubs off on the players and it allows us to do it.”
Neal has only been at Nebraska since summer and he's still getting up to speed on all things Huskers. One thing he was aware of prior to joining Nebraska was the impact that Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter had on the program. Neal knew about the two former Blackshirts because Frost talked about them in Orlando.
However, Neal didn’t realize how much it meant to Frost to be back at his alma mater until the defensive duo came to speak to the team.
“I think I first saw it when Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter came to talk to us," Neal saod. "At UCF, he talked about those guys but we didn’t really know too much about them, just from being down south, but he spoke very highly of them there.
"But actually getting to see when they came and to see the fire that they brought, you could see that passion in his eyes.”
Frost was sitting near Neal during the talk from Wistrom and Peter. He remembers looking over at his head coach and seeing something he hadn't seen before.
"It was just different," Neal said. "That was the first time I saw how much it means to him to be back here.”
When asked, Frost agreed with Neal. He knew he was fired up by his former teammates.
“When you’re away from guys like that for a while you forget how much passion there is,” Frost said. "Grant and Jason’s passion for Nebraska football was evident even the other day. It’s inspiring to be around that kind of passion, guys that care that much, guys that are willing to lay it on the line that much. Maybe it’s just the past coming back to me, but they pushed my buttons.
"I was ready to play after I listened to them talk and I think a lot of guys took their talk to heart.”
Frost is hoping his team displays that type of passion when the Huskers host Akron this Saturday at 7 p.m. CT in front of a sold-out Memorial Stadium crowd.
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.