Chubba Purdy’s feet are feeling much better.
Nebraska’s transfer quarterback from Florida State didn’t have the start he imagined after committing to the Huskers in January. Last April’s spring game was just the third practice that Purdy was able to go through as a full participant because he felt discomfort in his feet shortly after arriving in Lincoln.
“I missed a lot of spring, but I also got a lot of mental reps and stuff,” Purdy said on ‘Sports Nightly’ this week. “Spring was huge for me being here, so I feel like I got a lot of things done. So now I’m feeling way better and I’m ready to get rolling.”
If you were to go by who was wearing the green no-touch jerseys during the spring game, the competition for Nebraska’s starting quarterback is a three-man race between Purdy, Texas transfer Casey Thompson and Logan Smothers. Though a starter hasn’t been publicly named yet, it appears Thompson, the most experienced of the trio and a 10-game starter for the Longhorns, is the leading candidate to win the job.
But when head coach Scott Frost and his first-year offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, begin fall practices in late July, Purdy is going to look like a different quarterback than the limited one they saw during the spring.
Purdy’s goals for the summer include staying healthy, hitting the weight room and working with his receivers in 7-on-7 drills every morning. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder finds 7-on-7 very useful—there can never be enough practice making the right reads in the passing game, even if there’s no pass rush.
Those drills also help the new quarterbacks—and there are three of them in Purdy, Thompson and true freshman Richard Torres—learn about their receivers and create chemistry.
“It’s super important, because there are a lot of guys with different speeds,” Purdy said. “Tight ends, you have to be timed up with them, they’re a little slower. And we have a lot of fast receivers, so you have to get the ball out on time. So right now, working out on the indoor and doing seven-on-seven and routes on air is very big for the quarterbacks.”
Purdy’s relationship with Whipple goes back to Purdy’s playing days at Perry High School in Arizona. Whipple, then the OC at Pittsburgh and someone with Arizona roots himself after moving there as a child, recruited Purdy to play for the Panthers.
The four-star quarterback ultimately signed with Florida State, but after two seasons in Tallahassee, Purdy entered the transfer portal and Whipple was the first to reach out and do an in-home visit. Purdy remembers getting into the game when Florida State hosted Pitt in 2020, a contest the Seminoles lost 41-17. Whipple met with his future quarterback on the field afterward.
That bond has created trust between the two.
“He’s been around for a long time. He’s been running the same offense for many, many years,” Purdy said. “He’s had a lot of success at Pitt, he had a lot of success with the Steelers and he’s just a genius all around. When it comes to football, he knows everything about football. It’s just awesome that the quarterbacks get to see a legend around, because he really knows what he’s doing and all his play-calling is phenomenal.”
Purdy admits there’s a lot for Nebraska’s quarterbacks to learn with Whipple’s offense. But one thing that helps the learning process is the calm, cool and collected nature of the veteran coach.
“He’s laid back when we watch film and is always making sure that we know what our reads are, going through our progressions,” Purdy said. “I think we have a lot on our plate, but at the same time, with him being our coach, I think we’ll be just fine.”
To help make himself feel at home and comfortable in the office, Whipple prefers to take off his shoes and roll with socks only. That quirk helps manufacture an easygoing atmosphere, and Purdy said he and the rest of the quarterbacks join in on shedding the shoes while watching film.
“We walk around barefoot. It feels good because you just have shoes on all day,” Purdy said. “So when you get to take off your shoes and walk around, it feels really good. So, I see why he does it.”
Learning the offense is a group effort for the Husker quarterbacks. When a mistake is made, all of them come together to help correct it. If there’s a bad read, everyone’s asking why to help fix it. The room sticks together.
“We just really try to help each other out because it’s a new playbook,” Purdy said. “We were all thrown into it real quick, so we have to help each other out and be there for each other, and coach Whipple helps us out a lot with that. But the quarterbacks, for the main part, we’re here for each other.”
With a little over a month left until fall practice starts, Purdy says the offense is taking baby steps. The receivers want to fine-tune their routes. The quarterbacks want the correct footwork and depth on their drops and to be on time with their throws.
“You don’t want to just dive into it and throw the whole entire playbook at these kids because that’s not a good way to learn,” Purdy said. “Just taking it little by little, and I think we have plenty of time for everyone to learn the playbook and get everyone on the same page. So I think, by the time fall camp comes around, we’ll be just fine.”
Purdy didn’t get the start he envisioned at Nebraska. But with a clean bill of health, he’s looking to show the coaches and team what he’s capable of.