Big Ten Spring Football Cancellations and Suspensions
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Noah Vedral Can Focus on Football Again

August 22, 2019

Something abnormal happens whenever Noah Vedral leaves the practice field and heads for the second-floor lobby area of the Hawks Championship Center for media availability. Last Wednesday marked the first time he’s met with the media this fall camp, and he was asked about everything you could think to ask a quarterback in this offense. How’s the defense? Wide receivers look good? Who’s handling the bulk of the running back carries? Center?

Everything. 

Except one thing. 

Noah Vedral isn’t often asked about Noah Vedral.

I’m guilty of this, too. My first few questions were about his quarterback peer, Luke McCaffrey, and the progress the youngster has made. Such is the life when you’re the guy who knows what this offense does better than any single player on the team. Vedral spent his first year of college ball with Scott Frost in Orlando at UCF. He watched firsthand as the 2017 Knights built arguably the best offense in the country.

Then he came to Lincoln and turned into an on-field coach of sorts. 

“Yeah I don’t have to call or text any coaches,” wideout Jaevon McQuitty said. “I can just call Noah Vedral and ask [him], ‘Hey, what do I have on this?’” 

If McQuitty doesn’t see the signal from the sideline, Vedral is his guy. They take classes together. They worked a ton together during summer 7-on-7s. He, Vedral and Andrew Bunch play Apex Legends together. McQuitty calls Vedral mature and poised.

It’s easy to forget this guy is a redshirt sophomore. (That’s becoming a clichéd sentiment with Adrian Martinez around, too, so apologies, but in this case it’s appropriate.)

“He’s a guy I can trust,” McQuitty says.

He’s a guy coaches can trust, too.

On Friday of last week, Frost said Vedral was playing as well as he’s seen him play in all their time together. On Wednesday, quarterback coach Mario Verduzco said almost the same thing.

“He’s added more weight and has managed to keep his weight on,” Verduzco started. “He’s throwing the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball since I’ve been around him.”

He was smooth in the spring. He’s only built on that throughout the summer and into the fall. He’s more relaxed. “You can just kind of tell,” Verduzco says. “He knows what to expect.” Perhaps that’s a product of his environment. It’s a lot calmer this season.

In 2017, Vedral was a true freshman who moved from Wahoo, Nebraska, to Orlando, Florida, to start college football and then went on a 13-0 ride that ended in Atlanta with a Peach Bowl win over Auburn. That’s an incredibly wild year for an 18-year-old kid from the Midwest. 

Then in 2018, Vedral came home but didn’t get into a game until Bethune-Cookman as there was an initial “Will they, won’t they?” game with regards to an eligibility waiver and then he was in a holding pattern once the team finally applied for it.

“Calmer,” Vedral said of this summer. “It’s easier to be focused on football. There are no side distractions, no compliance, no email that I’m constantly waiting on or stuff like that. It feels more centered around football now than it is about outside stuff, so it’s a lot more settling. A lot calmer. It makes it a lot easier to come to work every day and stay locked in on tape, on practice, on the schemes we’re working on and whatever install we have left to put in. So it’s a lot easier to be focused.”

Verduzco called it “extraneous craziness swirling around his head.” All that change can get tiresome. With now-clear skies, there’s a direct translation to the football field. Maybe that’s got something to do with his play in fall camp. 

“And partially due to the fact he’s getting the reps he needs to get and last year he didn’t because he wasn’t going to play,” Verduzco said.

Because of that fact, this isn’t really even classified as Vedral’s Year 3 within the offense. At least not in Verduzco’s eyes.

“Really last year, for me at least, in looking at the whole thing was just a wash,” he said. “There wasn’t that sort of experience aspect to compliment what was going on in his brain cognitively, in terms of knowing the Xs and Os. He lost all that time in my mind, so I don’t look at him as a third-year guy who’s been in the offense, I really look at him as a guy who’s only been in it for two years.”

Frost said he’s seeing “amazing things” from Vedral on the practice field inside Hawks. In the coming days, Verduzco expects Frost will come talk to him about the No. 2 quarterback job, the one Vedral is fighting McCaffrey and Andrew Bunch and Matt Masker to hold onto. The reps will get split and game prep will start up. Vedral will be involved.

Normal.

“That routine,” he says, “is really nice to get back into.”

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