Competition reigns supreme on a good football team.
Nebraska had a handful of early enrollees on the defensive side of the football from the 2019 recruiting class. Defensive end Brant Banks, inside linebacker Nick Henrich and outside linebacker Garrett Nelson all joined the team in January.
And those early enrollees are already shaking things up. That’s an advantage to getting players into a program early. It also helps build the culture right away.
“I think we've embraced the attitude where I tell those guys that the last meeting we ever have is, 'I'm going on the road and I am trying to replace you,” defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said on Wednesday. “Everybody in this room. Period. Your job is to teach the new guys how to take your job and know they can't do it.' I think Mo Barry and some of those [defensive backs] are embracing that job. 'I'm going to teach you how to take my job, bud, but you can't do it. You can't outplay me. You can't outwork me.' That's a huge step in the right direction for us."
Throughout spring practice, many of Nebraska’s coaches have mentioned the change they have seen in the culture on the team. The program is going from being a coach-led organization to more and more players on the team taking the bull by the horns on leadership.
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It helps when the players come in with a love of the game and ready to work.
"The freshman group, the early enrollees, have really impressed me,” Coach Scott Frost said. “They've come in with a maturity and a love for the game that is refreshing to see. If the guys on campus are any indication of the recruiting class that we got, we're going to be in good hands for a long time."
The early enrollee group also includes wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, quarterback Luke McCaffrey, wide receiver Jamie Nance and tight end Chris Hickman. They have all received praise at various points this spring, not just for their work on the field but in the locker room and the classroom.
Based on what inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud said on Wednesday, the players arriving in the summer (including Jackson Hannah) also can’t wait to get to Lincoln and make an early impact.
“All those kids that weren’t mid-year guys are all fired up,” Ruud said. “They are all chomping at the bit to get out here. That’s what you want from your young guys. They should be ready to get here and be ready to roll.”
Outside of the players who are out with injury, fans will be able to see this new attitude in action for the first time during the sold-out Red-White Spring Game.
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.