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Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Special Teams, More Detailed Drill Work and Other Observations from Husker Practice

April 04, 2023

Nebraska crossed the midway point of spring ball on Tuesday and Coach Matt Rhule opened up practice to the media for a third open viewing period.

Here are some notes and observations from the 35-minute open period.

>> The green no-contact crew saw some changes. Offensive lineman Teddy Prochazka, defensive lineman Brodie Tagaloa, defensive back Javin Wright and the five healthy quarterbacks remained in green jerseys. Joining them were offensive linemen Ben Scott and Keegan Menning, wide receivers Alex Bullock and Barron Miles Jr. and defensive back Omar Brown.

After spending the first couple of weeks in green jerseys, redshirt freshman tight end Jake Appleget and freshman Dwight Bootle II were both in normal practice jerseys.

>> AJ Rollins’ move from tight end to defensive line looks to be a permanent one, at least for the spring. After wearing a gray jersey (signifying the players could play on either side of the ball), Rollins joined the red-clad defensive crew.

However, Jalil Martin remained in a gray jersey and was working out with the wideouts during position drills. Fellow defensive back Javier Morton joined Martin in gray, though he was working with the defensive backs.

>> After stretches, the team jumped directly into special teams drills on the field outside of the Hawks Center.

The punt returners included wideouts Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, Zavier Betts, Billy Kemp IV and Elliott Brown, though that crew was working on fair catches or letting the ball go rather than returns. The kickoff returners included Garcia-Castaneda, Kemp, Betts and running backs Anthony Grant and Rahmir Johnson.

Special teams coordinator Ed Foley stressed finishing the return to blockers and returners, emphasis on fighting through contact. Defensive backs coach Evan Cooper was vocal on the sideline, coaching up the gunners.

Later on in practice, the specialists took to Memorial Stadium to get some extra work in. Kickers Timmy Bleekrode and Spencer Pankratz and punter Brian Buschini worked on kickoffs while long snappers Camden Witucki and Marco Ortiz (listed as a tight end on the roster) were snapping to punter Jacob Hohl.

>> During position drills, Cooper worked with the secondary on the pursuit of running backs and flowing to the ball.

Linebackers coach Rob Dvoracek was working with his group on stunt work, moving around cans to meet the ball carrier. The ‘backers came with emphasis on violent contact during drill work.

Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola praised veteran Ethan Piper and freshman Gunnar Gottula for their reps. Raiola had the linemen finishing run blocks 15 yards down the field with a focus on head and body placement. The linemen also conducted a drill that featured an interior double-team block on the snap before one of the lineman scraped off to pick up a defender on the second level.

>> Notable visitors included Ahman Green, Caleb Tannor, 2023 signees Malachi Coleman and Jaylen Lloyd, walk-on commit Grant Seagren, a couple 2024 targets and 2025 Omaha North lineman Tyson Terry among others. 

Coleman has been present for every practice the media has observed.

Lloyd spent time talking with Dr. Lawrence Chatters, Nebraska’s Executive Associate AD for Strategic Initiatives, about track and school.

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