Ready or Not
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Ready or Not, Jack Stoll Tackles Leadership Role for Tight Ends

August 15, 2018

Any time a coach or player discusses the tight end position at Nebraska, Jack Stoll is the first name mentioned. As the only tight end on the roster who has taken a snap a the college level, Stoll had no choice but to step up.

“When I started out this camp, I went around the room and asked all those guys how many reps everybody’s played,” tight ends coach Sean Beckton said. “Jack was the only one that’s played. So I said, ‘You’re the leader of this group here.’ So to start the spring, in the summer, I wanted him to be the guy over summer to lead all the individual meetings, all the drill work, and it’s really starting to carry over. He’s not a natural leader, but we’re forcing it on him and he’s doing an extremely good job of it so far.”

Stoll may not be a natural leader, but he’s certainly done a good job of earning his teammates’ respect

“Jack, he’s a great leader,” redshirt freshman Austin Allen said. “He’s an even better guy off camera than he is on camera. There so many leadership things that he does without anybody seeing it that he doesn’t get appreciated for, I guess you could say. He’s always the guy who will walk up to the freshmen and say, ‘Hey, come in before meetings; we’re going to go over some stuff, all right?’ That’s without coaching. Coach [Beckton] will walk in and see Jack and that’s just who Jack is. I’m very appreciative of him and he’s helping the guys below him; he’s helping the guys that are trying to take his spot. So overall, he’s making us a better tight end group.”

One area in which Allen isn’t going to follow Stoll, however, is the hair department. Stoll is a fan of the “party in the back” cut.

“He tried to get me to grow a mullet,” Allen said. “I was with it for a bit, but it started growing and I was like, ‘I can’t do that to myself.’ I don’t know. He can rock it; I feel like he’s just got the facial structure and the body frame to rock a mullet.”

The tight end room for fall camp consists of Stoll as a sophomore, Allen and Kurt Rafdal as redshirt freshmen and true freshmen Cameron Jurgens, Katerina Legrone and walk-on Bryson Krull, making Allen and Rafdal the most experienced after Stoll as well. Beckon said he’s counting on the guys that were on the team last year to bring the newcomers along.

“Jack and Austin and all those guys have been tasked with making sure those freshmen and young guys understand what’s going on in the playbook, understand the new install for the next day,” Beckton said. “So those guys get in here early, they’re in the meeting room in between breaks going over everything with the young guys. That’s important, building team culture for the brotherhood.”

The Huskers have a variety of body types in the tight end room. Stoll is listed at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. True freshman Cam Jurgens is in a similar mold at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds. Legrone and Krull are converted big receivers at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. And then there are the twin towers in Allen (6-foot-8, 245 pounds) and Rafdal (6-foot-7, 250 pounds).

“Watching in film, Coach calls us the trees when we’re blocking,” Allen said. “He says, ‘You can’t be a tree, though. You’ve got to play like you’re 6-3 and not 6-8.’ He’s really getting on us to bend, just in drill, individual drills, play lower than what you’d think so when it comes to game time, you’re playing lower than you usually would.”

Jurgen's is a different story; getting better leverage as a blocker isn’t something that he has to focus too much on in practice.

“The first thing I noticed about him is he’s a great blocker,” said Allen, who was an in-state commit from Aurora just like Jurgens, a Beatrice product. “He’ll move guys off the ball, he’ll move guys five yards. It doesn’t matter if it’s the starter or somebody lower, he’s going to go at you hard and he’s going to block you. He’s going to block you with everything he’s got because he’s a strong, powerful dude. He’s going to move you.” 

Allen said agility is the thing Jurgens needs to improve the most, but he is coming off a broken ankle suffered late in his senior season. Mobility will continue to return. For the time being, though, Allen said Jurgens is also ahead of the game from a mental standpoint.

“He’s getting the details down too,” Allen said. “His playbook’s coming pretty easy for him too.”

Regardless of who is on the field and whatever the player’s individual strengths might be, he has to do it all in Coach Scott Frost’s offense, and rounding out that skill set has been a focus for all of Nebraska’s tight ends.

“He doesn’t care,” Allen said about Bekcton. “Obviously it would be better to have Jack go in there and dig out a D-end, but he says ‘Austin, get in there;’ I’ve got to be able to do that too. I have to be able to spread out and go catch the ball. Y and R, it doesn’t matter; he’ll flip us. You have to do everything.”

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