They were the 10 single-digit jersey winners. That was everyone’s first thought. The official Nebraska football Twitter account released “The Ten” at the conclusion of the first summer workout week and everyone got the wrong idea. The group listed in “The Ten” has grown and now includes 54 players, as of Sunday, well beyond single-digit jersey designation. Even head coach Matt Rhule started noticing people getting the wrong idea. So let the correcting of the record be known.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) July 2, 2023
The Ten pertains to the 10-80-10 rule. It’s a study in productivity and teamwork that Rhule’s become a believer in. As fully explained in the final chapter of the Hail Varsity series “Matt Rhule Builds a Program,” this theory essentially states the top 10% of the team becomes leaders, the bottom 10% act in a counter-productive way and the middle 80% are swayed either way. Rhule wants the top 10% to grow by influencing the middle 80% enough. Hence numbers growing to half the team. Strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell reiterated belief in the 10-80-10 theory with Jessica Coody on a recent episode of Sports Nightly, explaining what being in the top 10% means.
“They do everything the right way, they hold themselves to a high standard,” Campbell said. “They hold their teammates to a high standard, they do whatever it takes to be successful. And they bring guys along with them. That’s where we aim for everybody on this team to be.”
He said that number has grown far beyond 10% now because that elite group of Huskers is pulling the middle 80% up to their level. And they raise the standard each week. Borrowing a phrase from the other coaches, Campbell said “today’s price is not tomorrow’s price.” Campbell and the other coaches evaluate weight room performance, study hall performance, behavior and attendance at the training table and all over the spectrum. He said players have come up to coaches asking what they need to do in order to be part of the top 10%. That collective drive is now carrying the team through summer workouts.
“I love the way the guys are buying into it,” Campbell said. “And my hope is that list continues to grow because if we have a team of 10-percenters we’re going to be a tough team to deal with come the fall.”
The Huskers finished the fourth week of summer workouts when Campbell spoke with Coody last week, just before the Fourth of July holiday break. Campbell said it was good seeing them running in the heat and back in the weight room. He thought they had “a really good winter, really good spring ball” then returned to continue momentum. In addition to workouts, the Huskers have organized team activities each Tuesday and Thursday. They hone football skills, like 7-on-7, during those times. That allows them to correlate skills learned from spring ball and workouts into practice before practice.
Campbell explained his team’s main goals for this summer workout series. The first is conditioning and movement. He said the Huskers want to be the most-conditioned team so they can execute under any circumstance. Another main goal pertains to “assignment and technique mastery.” Finally, the third goal is to build bonds among the team. The top 10% standouts, driving through harsh workouts, naturally bring the team together. They encourage each other and lean on each other throughout rigorous workouts. Their bond helps the team not only be player-driven but feeds into forward momentum. Campbell and his staff only get the players for 8 hours each week, the same amount of time as every other program in the country. So it’s what the Huskers do within those 8 hours that can truly make a difference.
“It’s the work you do outside of that, that is going to allow you to be the team that you want to be,” Campbell said. “It’s important for them and they understand that. They’re welcoming the challenge of stepping up and leading and holding each other accountable and continuing to push the standard. Because we’re a team that continues to raise the bar. That day before, that price isn’t today’s price. We’re continuing to up that. And with that mindset we’ll be that team we want to be, or position ourselves where we want to be, come August.”
Campbell sees the Huskers gaining more accountability. He sees them driving each other in order to give their most for the team. With a lighter summer class load than in the fall, Campbell sees the summer as an important time to utilize time and energy for team building.
Coody asked Campbell about the noticeable changes among the Husker football players. The strength and conditioning coach downplayed his direct impact, calling it a team effort. He praised dietitian Kristin Coggins for her work in body scans and meal planning. Together, they come up with ways for players to meet weight goals by healthy means. Players can then attack the field and accomplish self-established goals.
Campbell is still not sure if they’ll get in the new weight room in time. Construction on the Go Big Project, while still moving forward, has continually hit snags. Campbell said he’s excited to get in there but doesn’t want to push into the new space before it’s completely ready. While the current weight room offers plenty of resources, the new one offers exponentially more space—even enough to fit the whole team.
The spring game offered Campbell an exciting glimpse at what to expect in Memorial Stadium this fall. He admitted to getting goosebumps thinking about it. But he, as well as the rest of the team, is focusing on each day between now and then.
“That’s the message we tell our guys: Go 1-and-0 today,” he said. “And our mindset is for 70 days we go 1-0 so that when it does kickoff we can go 1-0 that day, too.”